LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Almost 5,500 soccer players, coaches and trainers will invade the Premier Sports Campus this Labor Day weekend for the 2013 Labor Day Showcase, one of the area's largest soccer tournaments.
Close to 300 teams, with players ages 10 through 18, will compete in the annual event held 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 8 a.m. to around noon Monday.
The Chargers Soccer Club, the group hosting the tournament, expects teams from all over Florida and some from out of state. A handful of teams from Sarasota and Manatee counties will compete.
Among the local teams competing is FC Sarasota, which will be sending its U17 boys and U18 girls teams. The clubs like to play at the Premier Sports Campus because of its excellent facilities and playing surfaces, said Graham Hutton, director of coaching.
"It's a local tournament, so we don't have the other expenses, like hotel accommodations," he added.
The economic impact of the event is vast since participants and their families eat, drink and sleep over the long weekend.
Nicole Rissler, director of sports for Visit Sarasota County, estimates the area will rake in between $2 million and $2.5 million from the event.
Tournament organizers anticipate some 5,400 athletes and 8,700 spectators, Rissler said. About 2,200 nights are expected to be booked at area hotels.
The tournament also serves as advertisement for the Lakewood Ranch community and for the Chargers Soccer Club.
"It's good for us to (host this) because it brings attention to Lakewood Ranch. People come in and see all the houses and the amenities and sees Manatee and Sarasota as a whole," said Rob O'Nan, president of the Chargers. "For the Chargers, it helps us build our club."
The tournament, which will span 22 fields, is free.
Sabrina Rocco, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @sabrinarocco.