Youth soccer brings big money to Tucson - Tucson News Now

Youth soccer brings big money to Tucson

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Get ready for some soccer action this weekend.  The largest youth tournament kicked off in Tucson, Friday night.

It's the largest youth youth tournament in Southern Arizona.  The Tucson Association of Realtors just signed a 3-year contract worth more than $80,000 to sponsor the games.

All the players and families gathered at Fort Lowell park in Midtown on Friday evening.  Organizers said the event is bringing 5,000 players into the community.  They will make up 348 teams.  Organizers said the event pumped $3.3 Million in the Tucson economy

Diana Cannon, the tournament director over the years the event had grown to become the third largest in Tucson, right behind the gem show and the Rodeo.

"There's 2,200 hotel rooms booked.  We're talking car rentals and lots of restaurant food," said Cannon.

The event started 24 years ago with less than 100 teams.  Some termed it as the "soccer Olympics" of Tucson.

"The feel of the parade for these players is like being in the Olympics.  We have an Olympics torch,  they have to go through an Olympics arch," said Cannon.

Players came from all over Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas.  They even had a team from Hermosillo, Mexico competing this year. 

Event organizers said for the first time this year, 5-7 year olds were part of the opening night events, competing for fun awards like "best cheer," "best hair", and "best team banner".

Matches will be held in several fields throughout Tucson.

The tournament begins Saturday and Sunday morning at 7:45 AM.  You can check out the complete schedule of events at www.fortlowellshootout.com.

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