DUNBAR, W.Va. — The Shawnee Sports Complex and the Barboursville Soccer Complex will together host the 2020 U.S. Youth Soccer Eastern Regional Championship, which is expected to have millions of dollars in economic impact for the region.
Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango on Friday led a press conference regarding the tournament, which will be the fourth U.S. Youth Soccer event to be held between the venues over the next two years.
“The Shawnee Sports Complex was designed as a premier facility that would attract the very best events in youth sports, and I want to sincerely thank U.S. Youth Soccer for selecting it to host the four regional events,” he said.
The two facilities will host the U.S. Youth Soccer Eastern Regional President’s Cup in 2019 and 2020 and the Eastern Regional Championship in those years.
According to Salango, the total economic impact of the tournaments will be $56 million. The tournaments are expected to attract more than 300 teams.
The championship events will include boys and girls teams in the 12U and 19U age groups.
“We’ll be bringing literally thousands of players from hundreds of teams to stay in your hotels, to eat at your restaurants, to spend all kind of money in your communities, and we couldn’t be more excited to do so,” said Greg Smith, the general manager for U.S. Youth Soccer’s east region.
“We should be known as the youth soccer capital of the country. That’s what we need to be known as,” U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., noted.
Charleston Mayor Amy Goodwin, who previously served as state tourism commissioner, said the sports facilities’ impact will continue to be significant.
“Sports tourism is not a trend. It’s not a fad. It’s not some millennial gimmick or game,” she said. “Sports tourism, by the way, is the fastest growing segment of travel in the world. That’s it. Sports tourism is where it is right now.”
The Shawnee Sports Complex opened in July 2018 and includes collegiate-sized fields for soccer, football and lacrosse, as well as baseball-softball fields. Salango spearheaded the $17 million effort after joining the commission in February 2017.
This year’s Eastern President’s Cup will take place between June 14 and June 18, and the Eastern Regional Championship from June 28 through July 4. The 2020 President’s Cup will be held June 19 through June 23. The Eastern Regional Championship will begin June 26 and end July 2.