Baton Rouge to host 2014 Youth Soccer Championships

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Baton Rouge will host thousands of youth soccer players in the summer of 2014 for the US Youth Soccer Region III Championships.

Baton Rouge Soccer Association president Bob Johannessen says tournament organizers were so impressed when the city hosted the championships in 2010, they decided to come back.

"When you look at logistics that Baton Rouge Soccer can offer, when you look at the volunteers that our community provides, and you look at the facilities that's provided by BREC....we have all the ingredients to have a really good soccer tournament," said Johannessen.

Thousands of athletes and their families from southern states along the I-10 corridor will come to Baton Rouge for the tournament.

"This is our driving market that we pursue for tourism. It is our customer, so this event will just grow our customer base," said Paul Arrigo, president and CEO of Visit Baton Rouge.

Their ten day stay will mean big bucks for the city.

"We're talking about over 200 teams, probably bringing in somewhere between $18-20 million in economic impact...a huge amount of hotel rooms," said Eric Engemann, vice president of the Baton Rouge Area Sports Foundation.

Engemann says athletics are consistently keeping money rolling into the city. He says the 60 to 70 events taking place here annually create an estimated $30 million in tourism.

"It's just a growth that we're seeing in the amount of people interested in a healthy active lifestyle, and those types of events are going to continue to grow," said Engemann.

Johannessen says this kind of growth keeps the city on track toward becoming a sports mecca for events other than football.

"The bowlers recognize it, the ballooners recognize that, we're starting to see it with soccer. When the soccer people start recognizing have people that play soccer in every state, in almost every community it's become a national sports. It's certainly an international sport," said Johannessen.

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