The Red Diamond Classic youth soccer tournament drew 5,300 soccer players and had a $6 million economic impact the past two weekends, officials said.
More than 255 of the region’s elite teams came to Birmingham in the tournament’s 20th year.
Over the life of the tourney, the event has had an economic impact in excess of $106 million, with thousands of visitors to the region staying in hotels, eating in restaurants and shopping in Birmingham.
“At its heart, this tournament is the culmination of the hard work and discipline of 5,500 exceptional young athletes, working as teams toward mutual success,” said Bill Bowron, chairman, president and CEO of Red Diamond. “Initially we became involved because of the soccer – I coached my son’s team and saw young people come away with the discipline and team-building skills that the sport instills. And as our involvement grew, the signiﬁcant beneﬁts to the region became obvious.
“We work to show everyone the best that Birmingham has to offer. We don’t want them to play soccer and then just go back to the hotel,” he said. “We point them to our incredible food scene and to visit arts and cultural sites around town. We showcase our region through this widely attended tournament and generate signiﬁcant revenue for the area in the process.”
Those dollars add up and make a difference, said David Galbaugh with the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“When you consider the growth in Birmingham over the last 20 years, it’s remarkable,” Galbaugh said. “The city these players travel to today has leapt forward from what it was in 1998. The hospitality is the same, but the number of amenities and restaurants has skyrocketed. And the Red Diamond Classic has created a host of return visitors who can speak to Birmingham’s amenities and hospitality.”