The 24th annual Steamboat Mountain Soccer Tournament may be down a little in numbers this year, but that doesn't mean the effect on the local economy isn't still substantial.
Tournament director Eric Tegl said he expects about 100 teams for this year's tournament, down from the traditional 120 or more the tournament usually gets.
Still, the tournament, which starts today and runs through Sunday, serves as one of the biggest sports-related tourist draws of the year.
"As we try to keep building this the important thing for people to know is what an impact it has," Tegl said. "It's all run by volunteers. All parents of soccer players do this and it's one of the biggest tourism weekends."
The tournament features play at Christian Heritage School, Steamboat Springs High School, Ski Town fields, Emerald Park and Whistler Field.
Play begins today at 8 a.m. and will conclude with championship games Sunday, including girls and boys teams in divisions U-11 through U-18. Teams from California, Wyoming, Nebraska and Texas are expected to compete, in addition to more than 10 teams from Routt County and other squads from Colorado. In addition to the youth tournaments, a coaches' game is Saturday night.
The level of play will not be as high as some tournaments across the state, but still will be competitive, Tegl said.
"The level of play is, it's pretty much a non-premier tournament," he said. "It's above recreational and about in the middle ground of most tournaments."
Games run from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and Saturday. Championship games are scheduled Sunday at the Emerald and Ski Town fields.
Tegl said the interesting thing about the Mountain Soccer Tournament - which will feature more than 250 games - is that the money generated from it stays in Steamboat. Most of the money generated helps pay for coaches, trainers, uniforms and player fees.