Darton to host the Men's Soccer National Championship Tournament November 12-17th
By David Mann
Darton State College will bring the 2012 National Junior College Athletics Association D-I Men’s Soccer National Championship tournament to Albany, the NJCAA announced recently, conveying with it national attention and a solid economic impact to the Albany area.
City officials and business owners alike can anticipate a surge of over 4,000 spectators and hundreds of student-athletes, coaches, and supporting staff to come to Albany in November.
“I was delighted to hear that Darton State College is hosting the NJCAA D-1 men’s soccer national championship tournament in November,” said Albany City Mayor Dorothy Hubbard. “The economic impact of this tournament will certainly be huge for this community and for the city of Albany. Families, teams, and their coaches will stay in our local hotels, shop at our stores, and eat at our restaurants while enjoying the southern hospitality for which we are known. We are indeed excited about this tournament and hopeful that other events of this nature will make Albany their home.”
Indeed the tournament could find a home here, as officials at the NJCAA office have previously suggested. All but one of the past dozen national championship tournaments have either been in Phoenix or in Tyler, Texas. The national office, wanting to give eastern colleges a break from travel costs, has been searching for a new tournament site that would offer a fitting November climate, top-notch facilities, and a supportive surrounding community. Darton State College and the city of Albany seem to fit the bill, and therefore could become the third member within the tournament’s itinerant location.
That would be a welcome deal for local business owners such as Bo Henry.
“It’s great for Darton of course,” he said, “but it’s also real big for Albany and the businesses here. It’s one more thing that puts Albany on the map. Anytime something like this brings kids in from out of town, it’s great for the community.”
Tournament director and Darton State College Events Coordinator Martha Snow estimates an economic impact of about $830,000 for the Albany area, mostly applied to hotel, dining, entertainment, and shopping enterprises.
“It is great to host an event that will give the college, city, and county such national exposure,” she said. “The potential economic impact of this tournament is much greater than the women’s tournaments hosted on-campus in 2006 and 2007 since the tournament format has expanded.”
Unlike the women’s national championships previously hosted by Darton that consisted of eight teams, a total of 12 teams from eight districts will enter the tournament on Nov. 12. The tournament will include 14 matches culminating in a championship final on Nov. 17.
The tournament is expected to bring student-athletes, support staff, and family members associated with the 12 qualifying teams to Albany from eight separate districts within the NJCAA. The 2011 Championship hosted teams from as far east as Maryland and as far west as Arizona.
Darton Athletic Director Michael Kiefer submitted Darton’s tournament bid to the NJCAA, and while he recognizes the positive influence the tournament will bring to the Albany area, he’s also enthusiastically anticipating its impact on Darton State College, he said.
“We are excited that the NJCAA has awarded us the opportunity to host this national championship tournament,” he said. “On a national platform, it provides us the chance to showcase all that Darton State College has to offer.”
All 15 games of the tournament are scheduled for the Darton soccer complex with admission open to the general public. The matches are also scheduled for live Internet broadcast through iHigh.com, giving the college and surrounding interests an easily-accessed, high profile venue for advertising and information sharing.
For information about the tournament please visit http://soccer.darton.edu/