The Premier Sports Campus in Lakewood Ranch, FL was buzzing with activity as athletes playing soccer, rugby, Frisbee and football take to the fields.The U.S. National U17 boys soccer team played two exhibition games against the Clearwater Chargers on Sept. 17, 2011.
“These are the best young soccer players in America,” said Tim Mulqueen, Lakewood Ranch’s director of sports. “It will be a great sight for the entire community to come out and see soccer players who will most likely be playing for Major League Soccer one day.” There are about 40 players on the U.S. National team, from all over the country.
Three other sports took place simultaneously that weekend. A rugby 10’s tournament started on Saturday and continued on Sunday. This world cup rugby event, hosted by the Sarasota Saracens rugby team, brought 20-30 elite rugby teams from around the state to compete both days.
The Ultimate Frisbee world championships also took place Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and the YMCA football league played regular league games all weekend as well.
“That is the great thing about having 22 full-sized fields,” said Mulqueen. “When we are not hosting a major tournament, we can host several smaller events all at the same time.” The last major event at the campus was the Labor Day soccer tournament, which brought in approximately 19,000 amateur athletes and fans, generating more than $8 million in economic impact to the region.
On September 17, light poles went up on eight fields at the sports campus, extending future play into the nighttime hours. The investment will be approximately $1.1 million. “The lights make us very unique in that we are the ONLY local facility that is privately owned that has playing fields with lights,” Mulqueen said. “We can now be host to at least nine national events – events that will be massive in terms of economic impact and exposure to the area that we could not have secured without lights.”
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. http://www.lakewoodranch.com