Darton State College student Blake Muncy, left, makes some noise from the sidelines as he cheers for the home team during the No. 1-seeded Darton men’s soccer team’s matchup with Western Texas in the NJCAA National Tournament at Darton Wednesday. See how the team did in Sports, 1B.
ALBANY, Ga. — Maybe it’s not professional football, but this week’s 2012 National Junior College Athletic Association Division 1 Men’s Soccer National Championship, hosted by Darton State College, is kicking the local economy into a higher gear.
“I’m sure the economic impact of this tournament will be greater than the women’s tournaments in 2006 and 2007,” said Martha Snow, the tournament’s director and Darton’s events coordinator. “Especially since the format has gone from eight to twelve teams.”
In fact, according to Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Rashelle Beasley, most area hotels are filled with an estimated 4,000 soccer enthusiasts, players, coaches, families and four-year recruiters. Estimated impact for the tournament week is upwards of $830,000, Beasley said.
Twelve top soccer teams from as far north and east as Rochester, N.Y., and westward to Arizona are competing for the championship at Darton’s soccer complex. By utilizing a pool system of tournament play, 15 games are scheduled.
“We are excited that the NJCAA has awarded us the opportunity to host this national championship tournament,” Darton Athletic Director Michael Kiefer said in an earlier press release. “On a national platform, it provides us the chance to showcase all that Darton State College has to offer.”
According to Snow, the opportunity to host the tournament came after an NJCAA representative approached the college with the idea and Darton submitted the winning bid.
“(The NJCAA) would like to get into a three-year rotation for hosting,” Snow said, “and they were looking for a college in the East.”
Since Darton was victorious 3-1 in its match with Western Wyoming Monday and defeated Western Texas 3-0 Wednesday, it will advance to the semifinals on Friday, Snow said. No games are scheduled for today.
“Our guys have been No. 1 all year, and we’re really excited to host the tournament and have them participate,” Snow said.