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Soccer games at Allen Creek boost tourism dollars
54 teams from all over Southeast competed
Spectators line the filed to watch a game between the Georgia Rush team in blue and West Georgia team in black during the Publix Atlanta Cup Soccer Tournament at Allen Creek Soccer Complex Sunday. - photo by Tom Reed

Allen Creek Soccer Complex served as a home for at least 54 different youth soccer teams and families from all over the Southeast this weekend.

For the 10th year in a row, the facility in Gainesville hosted the games as part of the Publix Atlanta Cup Soccer Tournament. There were 91 games over the two days at Allen Creek. It is just one of many venues participating in the cup.

Saturday and Sunday morning were the preliminary games, and Sunday afternoon was the semi-finals. Teams that make it to the finals will play at a central location in Atlanta today.

The cup brought out youth soccer teams from Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, Missouri and South Carolina.

Some of the local soccer teams included Lanier Soccer Association and Georgia Mountains YMCA.

“This tournament is the most prestigious in the state,” said Mike Little, facility manager and acting director for Hall County Parks and Leisure.

“You got some very good teams in this tournament,” said Rick Bellows, from the Lanier Soccer Association.

Rush Neil came here from Alabama with her son, Patrick, and his team, Birmingham United or “BUSA.”

“Our team just wanted to play in the Atlanta Cup,” she said. She added that the competition in the cup is great.

Stewart Day came with his son, Thomas, and his team, Brentwood Soccer Club from Brentwood, Tenn.

“Atlanta Cup offers the South the highest level of competition,” he said.

The Atlanta Cup has been also a good source of revenue and tourism for Hall County.

“All of these teams are staying at hotels, eating out and buying gas and groceries,” Little said. “Even the teams not staying the night are eating out.”

Allen Creek also benefitted from hosting the cup. The facility gets a percentage of the cup’s entry fees. This will go toward its operating cost. The referees of the games are all local people who are receiving some money as well.

“What we found in the economic downturn is people are still willing to spend for sporting events for their kids,” Little said.

“It’s been delightful,” Neil said. “We’ve had a fun weekend out of it.”

Her son’s team had dinner at Biba’s Italian Restaurant. She said the kids had fun there.

“Gainesville is really pretty,” Day said. “It’s been real easy.”

His son’s team had dinner at Fini’s Pizza in Flowery Branch where they had some pizza. He said they were “...treated like family” there.

Both agreed they would like to come back here again for the Atlanta Cup, which is held annually during Labor Day weekend.

“It showcases the county. It’s a beautiful county,” Little said. “They might want to come back, go to the lake or come for vacation.”