Res. halls could welcome 1,700 soccer visitors

The proposal still needs regents approval, but the U has done this for 18 years.

Every summer over 25,000 soccer players, coaches and fans from around the world come to Blaine, Minn., to participate in the USA Cup youth soccer tournament, and the University of Minnesota has found a way to benefit from the visitors. Since 1990, guests have stayed in University residence halls during the summer soccer tournament. In 2009, the University is expected to receive $542,395, which they will use to help keep housing costs lower for students, Director of Real Estate Sue Weinberg said. Between July 15 and July 26, about 1,700 players, parents and coaches will fill rooms at Territorial, Centennial and Frontier halls, pending approval by the Board of Regents. During ThursdayâÄôs Board of Regents Facilities Committee meeting, the proposal was approved, sending it to the Board of Regents. Pending approval by the board Friday, the visitors will again stay at the University this summer. Since the University has hosted USA Cup guests since 1990, approval is likely, Weinberg said. Housing and Residential Life will earn more than $277,000 and University Dining Services will receive more than $261,000, with the remaining $3,200 going to Parking and Transportation Services. Although the University uses residence halls to house students for first-year orientation, Weinberg said some of the space is not used during the summer. âÄúThe University has excess capacity in its residence halls, which offers the University the opportunity to generate additional money from summer uses,âÄù she said. Sha Leahey, National Sports Center registrar , said guests who come for the tournament prefer the residence halls because they are cheaper than hotels. Some visitors stay in hotels or participate in a home-stay program with families in the area, but Leahey said the residence halls at the University and Northwestern College always fill quickly and are decided on a first-come, first-serve basis. âÄúItâÄôs good, solid dorm housing, with the meal packages included,âÄù Leahey said. âÄúIt provides a great opportunity for teens that are looking for either a more economical way to travel, or even better than that teams that do not have transportation.âÄù She said people always seem satisfied with their stay, and the USA Cup continues to have a good relationship with the University. While the fiscal benefits of hosting tournament visitors help the University and students by maintaining lower residence hall prices, Conference and Event Services Assistant Director Kim Araya said this is also an opportunity for more people to see the University of Minnesota. âÄúItâÄôs a great way to show off not only our University but our cities to tens of thousands of people who would have probably never come to the University or to the Twin Cities,âÄù Araya said. She said the University provides campus tours for the visitors, and the USA Cup offers tours of the Twin Cities for the summer guests. The University also provides translators during their stay because many of the visitors come from other countries. Although first-year orientations continue while the visitors are in town, Araya said the visitors do not disrupt the flow of orientation.