Soccer could be next goal for sports tourism

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Myrtle Beach may have covered it all when it comes to new facilities for baseball, softball, and basketball, but now there's a new focus for sports tourism. The latest push is to get soccer at the beach.

"It was never a big thing when I was a kid," said Dan Stubborns, who lives in Myrtle Beach. "Of course that's ions ago. But today it seems like there's more and more kids that are participating in soccer so that's probably a good idea to put some soccer fields in."

Soccer may be the next big sport at the beach, but there's a problem. Right now there aren't enough fields to support large soccer related events. At multi-million dollar sports parks like Grand Park at Market Common, you can find major facilities for sports like baseball and softball. But now some city officials say soccer needs the same set up.

Overall, the interest in sports tourism has already expanded to North Myrtle Beach, and now the county may be jumping on the bandwagon. Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes says it's because of the success that sports tourism events bring to the Grand Strand, and soccer could bring even more.

"I think they're seeing what the results can be," said Mayor Rhodes. "And they're giving indication that they're willing to listen to the plan. And that's where the first step is getting them to listen."

Mayor Rhodes also says to make the fields at Grand Park profitable, the grass will have to be turned in to turf, which can cost more than a million dollars. When it comes to where the money will come from to pay for new fields, Rhodes says it will have to come from the city budget. That determines the time frame, as the city won't be able to work on soccer fields until there are enough funds to support the effort.

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