They came, they played, and they left.
More than 3,000 athletes converged on Pacesetter Park on Centennial Road for the U.S. Youth Midwest Regional soccer tournament last week - bringing thousands of family and friends to the area.
“From my standpoint it could not have gone much smoother,” said Ken Katafias, the head of Sylvania Area Joint Recreation Department.
“We were very cautious about it, because it was the first time we had hosted a soccer tournament of this magnitude,” he said. “We had a huge amount of investment in labor and preparation and things,” he added, putting a price tag of about $40,000 on the event, for the recreation district.
He said they probably broke even on the tournament.
The tournament put Sylvania's soccer fields on the map - for regional and national play, he said.
The recreation district babied the 20 fields they set up for play, for three weeks prior to the games, he said. No other games were played there during that time.
The Ohio Youth Soccer Association North first bid to host a regional soccer tournament in 1997, but lost. In 1998, they bid again and won a chance to host the 2002 tournament.
A total of 196 teams from Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin played in Pacesetter Park.
One reason the park hosted the tournament was because it had the capacity to have so many games going at the same time, Mr. Katafias said.
Sylvania restaurants near Pacesetter Park were prepared for increased business by scheduling heavier and ordering extra food.
At Nautica Coffee in Mayberry Square near the park, business increased 20 percent during the tournament, co-owner Pam Moody said.
Still that was less than they had anticipated, thinking their fruit smoothies would sell quickly to athletes.
Dessert Depot, an ice cream parlor near Nautica Coffee, also anticipated increased business, said manager Rose Retzcke. Only one family came in from the tournament.
Tournament players didn't stay in Sylvania, which the storeowners said they believed was why business wasn't up more. There are no hotels in the city, so instead, they stayed throughout the Toledo area and in some of its suburbs.
Sylvania Mayor Craig Stough agreed hotels were the key to benefiting economically from the tournament.
Plans for a Wingate Hotel & Suites in downtown Sylvania on Main Street are under way. When the hotel opens, Mayor Stough said he thinks it will do well because of events that draw visitors to the area, such as the annual Jamie Farr Kroger Classic golf tournament. That event starts July 11.
Win Otto, the tournament's chairman, has said it would be at least 10 years before another request to host the tournament would be granted, because the U.S. Youth Soccer organization rotates the sites throughout the Midwest.
Sylvania's own soccer team, the Pacesetter Soccer Club U-15 girls team, lost before reaching the finals.