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Local Business Scores Big With Soccer

Friday, December 9, 2011


The 2011 Development Academy Winter Showcase and Nike International Friendlies brought 21,000 people to Lakewood Ranch last week for U.S. Soccer’s most highly attended showcase ever. For the highly anticipated international matchup between the Brazil U17 team and the U.S. U17 team, more than 6,000 people attended and the game was broadcast live on the Fox Soccer channel.

Soccer players made a big impact on the local economy, filling up shops, restaurants and hotels from Venice to St. Armand’s Circle to downtown Sarasota, Lakewood Ranch and Bradenton. The estimated economic impact from this tournament alone is approximately $6 million. In 2012, 25 events are already scheduled at the Premier Sports Campus, with a projected economic impact of more than $60 million. Here are some local testimonials from several area business people:

Drew Dalabakis, Managing Partner, Carrabba’s Italian Grill:
“Busy is an understatement – we were definitely busy. It gave us a great jump in December. We’re up maybe 20 percent for the week already, for those two days so it was very significant. The employees enjoyed it – they benefit going into Christmas time.”

Marisol Balente, Kitchen Manager, Chipotle:
“It was really, really busy, we almost ran out of food – ran out of salsa, rice, ran out of everything. It’s a very good thing and now we have to hire more people because our sales are expected to go up. We ran out of everything and had to borrow from some other stores!”

Rob Ferguson, Director of Sales Holiday Inn/Fairfield Suites:
“It’s been crazy, probably since Nov. 26 – so for about 13 days we’ve been nearly sold out from a variety of events over at the fields, but this week with the soccer showcase, we had the U.S. Federation in, and a team from Ohio. They came in and had great time; they ate and ate some more and spent a lot of time around Lakewood Ranch. Just probably within the past month our occupancy is up about 10 percent just from the impact of events at the soccer fields alone and its great business. Some people might think it’s great for the owners of the hotel but it’s much, much more than that, it’s hours for the employees, it’s buying food and beverage and eating at local restaurants. Every day we’ve seen pizza men coming in with 20 pizzas for the teams over the lunch hour from our local restaurants in Lakewood Ranch, so it’s not just the owners, it’s the impact for the whole community.”

Corey Fornier, Assistant Manager, Jimmy Johns Sub Shop:
“It was pretty crazy! We had a 10-15 percent increase in sales for the week because of it, we did 300 boxed lunches this morning for a few teams and it’s just been hectic but greatly needed business. We came close to running out of bread a couple of times but we got through it. We’re still in our opening period so it really jumped our sales up and watching the vans and vans that kept pulling in was great.”

Next up at the Premier Sports Campus is another 3D Lacrosse Nike Blue Chip tournament this weekend, and the Men’s Olympic soccer team training camp starting December 16.

The Premier Sports Campus at Lakewood Ranch is a multi-purpose facility that is home to 22 full-sized, mixed-use fields for soccer, lacrosse and other amateur sports, and features Celebration grass and underground irrigation. The complex is used for amateur and professional top-flight and world-class sporting tournaments, events, camps and clinics and is located in Lakewood Ranch – the 8,500-acre, award-winning master-planned community in Sarasota and Manatee counties on the West Coast of Florida. www.lakewoodranch.com

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