The Kansas Jayhawks may be playing for a shot at the Final Four, but some heated competition closer to home will be expected to fill hotel rooms, boost restaurant orders and otherwise kick up spending during the coming weekend.
The Kaw Valley Soccer Association is fielding a tournament scheduled to draw 75 youth teams for games at Youth Sports Inc. and a few other locations.
The tournament, the Kaw Valley Cup, starts tonight and will send 1,200 boys - third-graders through high school seniors - into games at YSI and on fields at Langston Hughes and the Lawrence virtual schools.
With families in tow from Lawrence, Johnson County, Topeka, Manhattan, Salina, Wichita and other communities as far away as Oklahoma City, the tournament figures to pump up spending for a weekend when the Jayhawks are far from home.
"It's a nice little economic bump for the community," said Keith Meyers, tournament director and premier chairman for the soccer association. "They're eating, shopping and everything else they're doing."
The association itself also is doing its part: The budget for hiring referees alone is about $7,000, Meyers said, which is money going into the pockets of local adults and teens willing to officiate competitive games.
The association figures to clear between $10,000 and $15,000 from the event. The money will be used to help support activities and investments. Among the possibilities: continued upkeep and improvements at YSI, which for this tournament will be taking advantage of newly irrigated fields Nos. 11 and 12.
The Kaw Valley Cup is the first of two major tournaments that the organization conducts each year. The Kansas Cup, a tournament for girls, is conducted each September in Lawrence.