NCAA College Cup returning to SAS

From the Cary News
March 21, 2007

Every year since 2003, an NCAA soccer champion has been crowned at SAS Stadium.

That will continue through 2009.

Last week, the NCAA announced that the winning bid for the 2008 Women's College Cup and the 2009 Men's College Cup was submitted by the Town of Cary, the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, N.C. State University and the Capital Area Soccer League.

"Cary has shown great support of college soccer," said De'Ann Keller, the NCAA's championship liaison for men's soccer. "They have a great fan base, a great staff with the entities involved. They've shown a commitment to NCAA soccer. It's been a great soccer venue. … We're looking forward to coming back to Cary."

The NCAA has previously staged soccer's final four at SAS Stadium for the women in 2003, 2004 and 2006. The men came to town for the first time in 2005, and they will return later this year.

"It establishes SAS Soccer Park as one of the premier soccer venues in the nation," said Keith Jenkins, who manages the facility. "We're very proud to say we're host to ACC and NCAA events, and it's a great opportunity to showcase the facility and the town of Cary."

In order to receive the bid, the Triangle group submitted a bid package, which addresses needs such as stadium size, practice facilities, attendance and revenue projections, to the NCAA's selection committee. The committee, which is made up of athletic directors, athletic administrators and coaches, reviews each bid at its annual meetings before voting on which site to award the event to.

Because SAS Soccer Park has previously hosted the event, Jenkins said this bid process was easier than past go-rounds. Previously, they've had to travel to the selection committee's meeting and make a formal presentation. But this year, they just had to do a question-and-answer session via teleconference.

"We would not continue to be awarded bids if the NCAA wasn't happy with not only the facility but the service they get from the four host partners," Jenkins said. "CASL, N.C. State, the Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau and ourselves, we all have our own part in the puzzle that makes the event successful."

Part of the event's success rests with CASL hosting a tournament at SAS Soccer Park during the College Cup weekend, which attracts several thousand more people to the area. The teams that participate in the tournament receive game tickets.

At last year's Women's College Cup, more than 16,000 attendees walked through the park's gates for the two days of competition, which created an atmosphere that is hard to overlook when it comes to awarding future events, said N.C. State's Chris Alston.

"I think we're able to guarantee a sellout every time," said Alston, an associate director of marketing at N.C. State, which serves as the host school for the College Cup. "The complex is one of the premier ones in the country. Being the size that it is, we're able to fill it to capacity and make the experience one the student-athlete will always remember. The NCAA sees that and it's very hard to pass up."