GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Greensboro boosters felt the BB&T Soccer Park at Bryan Park was falling behind and losing events to other soccer venues. So with private and public money, improvements were made at the soccer complex -- $4.5 million total with $3 million coming from the City of Greensboro.
"For our players who train four times a week, it's important when they come to an event it's a world class environment on the field," U.S. Soccer Development Academy Technical Director Miriam Hickey said. "So the field is an important part of that."
The soccer complex now has 21 fields, creating two turf fields, and lights for night games. With the improvements, the U.S. Soccer Development Academy brought their first ever girls' academy soccer showcase to the newly expanded soccer complex. U.S. Soccer Development Academy Director Jared Micklos is thrilled with the additions.
"This facility has been accommodating in meeting our needs," Micklos said. "It has a nice mixture of fields in one place where you can bring an event this size."
Age groups from Under 14, Under 15, and Under 16 and 17 spent five days in Greensboro. When you consider 70 club teams from across the United States, that's about 4,000 players. Plus, according to the Greensboro Convention and Visitor Bureau, add the player's parents and about 400 college scouts, you get 10,000 hotel rooms sold and nearly $4 million spent in Greensboro. Pam Otto and her family is in town from Michigan. They are spending a lot of their time away from the soccer fields checking out the sites of Greensboro.
"It's been fun," Otto said. "We've been able to visit some college campuses as the soccer players are looking toward the future. We also enjoyed the restaurants and hotels."
Emily Lang's family is from Kansas. She said the improved fields are a bonus.
"It's been great. We've played on multiple fields and they all been nice even with the rain," Lang said.
The soccer complex is getting positive reviews. So there's a chance the U.S. Soccer Development Academy could return to Bryan Park.
"We built relationships with facilities and communities," Micklos said. "I think Greensboro has the type of things you need to look at to be a potential host for an event."
Otto hopes the soccer showcase will come back.
"The fields are absolutely beautiful. The facility is phenomenal to play on, the fields are immaculate. I really enjoyed coming to North Carolina."
The Development Academy is a big deal. It can be a pathway that can lead to college soccer, professional or the senior national team that could represent the United States in World Cup competition.