OP hopes to ‘net’ big money with soccer tourney

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Overland Park is home to several thousand new residents, at least for the week.

Eighty-eight teams from 24 states are here for the largest national championship tournament in U.S. Youth Soccer history. The Overland Park Convention and Visitor's Bureau is thrilled and expects about $4 million to get pumped into the economy.

The visitors have 8,000 hotel room nights booked throughout the metro for the week-long tournament. Restaurants and retail stores will feel the economic rush as well.

Ryan Gantz, a soccer dad from Oklahoma, says he's impressed with what he's seen so far.

"They (restaurants) are welcoming, very hospitable. Any place we've been to eat, very good, very clean, very nice city, very well kept," said Gantz. "It has good variety."

Gantz and his family spent Tuesday afternoon at Oak Park Mall. Retailers saw a boom in business soon after the morning session of games ended. It's pretty easy to pick out those from out of town -- they all sport their team colors and jerseys.

Gantz's family was right there with them and shopping was on the list for his daughter, Luka.

"I want to get a birthday present for a friend, but i also want to get some new clothes for Hawaii, if he (dad) Will let me," she joked.

Dad smiled and nodded as if it was a foregone conclusion.

It's scenarios like this that have city leaders in Overland Park and other metro cities salivating. Each new person in the door means another important economic dollar.

The tournament runs through Sunday at the overland park soccer complex.

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