TBAYS Fall Tournament Canceled, Area Tourism Suffers

The Traverse Bay Area Youth Soccer, or TBAYS, canceled their annual Autumn Classic tournament on August 20.

Screen Shot 2020 08 21 At 2.55.32 PmThey are one of many organizations that have postponed a major event that brings tourists to the area because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Traverse Bay Area Youth Soccer, though it’s a small nonprofit, we bring anywhere from $2.5 to $5 million depending on how well our tournaments do to Grand Traverse county and to northern Michigan,” said TBAYS Technical Director Jason Smith.

TBAYS received notification from the Michigan Youth Soccer Association that all tournaments in their organization would be cancelled through September 30.

“Up until that point we had watched other tournaments that were in early August and early September cancel,” said Smith. “We were hoping for a late last stampede to try and get some teams up here to host a tournament, but the state decided that it’s not safe at this time and travel to the region.”

The nonprofit relies on their annual tournaments for funding.

“We use those funds from the tournament not only to operate Keystone Soccer Complex,” said Smith. “We also use it to offset the cost of travel soccer so it’s had quite a bit of impact.”

Cancellation of events like the Autumn Classic Tournament have also had a big impact on tourism in the area.

“When these big events come to town and bring people in, everybody is busy,” said Summerside Properties Director of Operations Ron Robinson. “The hotels, the restaurants, the gas stations, the convenience stores, everybody is here and when you add that many people into the population, it’s a lot of dollars that are going into the economy.”

His Traverse City hotels, Cambria Suites, Comfort Inn, and Best Western, have been booked out in the past because of these tournaments.

“When we take a team at a hotel, it is typically 14 rooms,” said Robinson.”There’s probably 8,000-10,000 people that come to Traverse City just for that soccer tournament.”

Robinson has been surprised with the amount of traffic his hotels have gotten despite so many tourist events being cancelled.

“One thing that’s a little unusual with all the events cancelled is there’s still a lot of people coming to Traverse City,” said Robinson. “We’re not busy as we were last year but we had a lot more business than we expected with all the events cancelled.”

TBAYS hopes to return in the spring with their Cherry Capital Cup in May.