Big soccer tourney starts today

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— One of the state's biggest soccer tournaments will take to the fields of Steamboat Springs this weekend.

The 23rd annual Mountain Soccer Tournament begins at 8 a.m. today and runs through Sunday. More than 120 teams and 2,000 players and coaches are expected to take part in the tournament.

"It's a long-lasting tournament," tournament director Eric Tegl said. "Registering begins in January, and I end up having to turn away teams because we don't have field space. I wouldn't say it's the biggest in Colorado, but it probably ranks in the top three."

Games will take place at Steamboat Springs High School, Christian Heritage School, Emerald Park fields, Ski Town fields, Whistler Park and Steamboat Springs Middle School.

Games run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and Saturday. Championship games are scheduled for noon Sunday at the Emerald and Ski Town fields.

"The economic impact is expected to be around $1.2 million for the city," Tegl said. "Each team brings, on average, 14 players, and with the lodging and extra things they can do when they're not playing, that number might be low."

Tegl, who is in his second year as tournament director, said the tournament will bring out some of the better teams from the state and region.

Players between 10 and 18 years old will be broken down into different flights for the three-day tournament.

Along with representation from eight states, Tegl said 11 local teams are expected to compete. Each team will play a minimum of three games.

Tegl said the interesting thing about the Mountain Soccer Tournament - which will feature more than 300 games - is that the money generated from it stays in Steamboat. Most of the money goes to help pay for costs of coaches, trainers, uniforms and player fees.

Whereas on the Front Range it usually costs upwards of $800 to play multiple seasons, in Steamboat it costs less than $150 for players to play.

The big reason for that, Tegl said, are tournaments like this weekend's.

"It takes a lot of work but also keeps the fees down for the parents." Tegl said. "It's a win-win for everybody."

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