CREATED Jan 21, 2013
Reporter: Justin Schecker
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The unofficial prime tourism season for Tucson kicked off this weekend with one of the largest annual youth soccer tournaments in the region.
More than 350 teams from across the Southwest competed this weekend on 45 different fields in Tucson.
For the second year in a row, Pamela Jones' daughter and her teammates from Gilbert played in the Tucson Association of REALTORS Soccer Shootout. The players and their families also stayed at the Viscount Suite Hotel for a second time.
"We're surprised they let us back because some people played tag a lot, but that's alright," Jones said.
The Viscount Suite Hotel was close to capacity this weekend, hotel manager Grace Guillen told Nine on Your Side.
"We're almost full and hotels have sent other people here," Guillen said Saturday morning. "But right now, I don't think we could take another person."
Nine on Your Side asked Guillen what the hotel dining area would look like early Sunday morning.
"Well, if you can imagine 594 kids and parents down here in the morning, it's going to be crazy because every kid wants breakfast in the morning before they hit the field," Guillen said.
With large crowds at fields across the city, tournament organizers said they expect non-hospitality businesses to also benefit.
"They're going to eat at our restaurants and rent cars, so that's a huge economic impact, approximately $3.5 million dollars," tournament director Dianna Cannon told Nine on Your Side.
Guillen said she looks forward to this tournament every year because she can relate to many of the guests at her hotel.
"I was once a soccer mom and I really love that all of these parents are so into their kids and the enthusiasm that you see from the kids and the parents," she said.
Another soccer mom, Jones, who attended the University of Arizona, said she can see the upside for businesses in her college town.
"It's phenomenal for them," she said. "It brings in a lot of revenue for them, I'm sure."
The tourism boost continues next month with two more big events. The 59th annual Gem and Mineral Show at the Tucson Convention Center is from Feb. 14-17.
As soon as that's over, the world's top golfers will gather at Dove Mountain for the Accenture Match Play Championship that starts on Feb. 18.