CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - A huge soccer tournament kicks off this weekend drawing thousands to the Richmond area and to SportsQuest which has been under a dark cloud. Some call the tournament a shining example of sports tourism despite the recent negative headlines.
SportsQuest is hosting the Jefferson Cup which draws youth soccer players from more than 30 states. An economic boost for the county and a bright moment for the founder caught in a negative light.
The best of the best set to play at SportsQuest among other local soccer fields for the coveted Jefferson Cup.
"Out of the 916 total teams we had 1400 applications," said Scott Turner with the Richmond Strikers.
Turner said SportsQuest is an important venue for the tournament which is now in its 33rd year.
"I never had a second doubt that we would be using SportsQuest this year and hopefully for many more years to come," said Turner.
Positive news for SportsQuest founder, Steve Burton.
In recent weeks, the company got evicted from its training facility for owing thousands in back rent. It's also facing legal action by State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
"No comment on those things," said Burton.
Before walking away after my line of questioning about the negative news, Burton had this to say.
"There's different sections of business for SportsQuest and some of them have more challenges than others. The tournament business is going strong and some of the other businesses we're seeking for solutions," said Burton.
Turner said a northern Virginia tournament is using the negative SportsQuest headlines to draw teams away from the Jefferson Cup.
A posting on the Annandale Premier Cup web site links to a news article about the Cuccinelli lawsuit below a headline: "Does this spell the end of Jeff Cup at SportsQuest?"
Annandale's executive director said he's not trying to draw teams away that the Jefferson Cup is not his competition.
"It's a true shame for what they're doing for the community and especially when it's for the betterment for themselves," said Burton.
More than 24,000 hotel rooms have been booked for the Jefferson Cup. The region expects a reported $15 million economic boost.
"It's great for the community. It's great for the hotels," said Turner.
The tournament will play out over the next three weekends.
SportsQuest had 21 days to respond to the Cuccinelli lawsuit which was filed February 7th. Today, SportsQuest filed an order with the court for an extension on that deadline. We'll keep you posted.