Bill Harte wants to bring soccer to the sands of Long Beach.
A co-founder of the Beach 5 Sand Soccer Series, Harte travelled from Maryland earlier this month to ask the City Council to consider granting his company access to the beaches to run an estimated 75-team, one-day soccer tournament this summer or next.
“The event is a wonderful experience for players and parents and brings a lot of business to local establishments,” Harte wrote in an e-mail to Patch, adding that his company has already talked with the city officials about bringing the tourney to Long Beach after the Feb. 7 council meeting.
In pitching his series to Long Beach, Harte wrote in an e-mail to City Councilman Mike Fagen that his company’s tourney started in Ocean City, Maryland, in 2006 with 40 teams and now boasts more than 300 teams and has spread from their base in Maryland to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and Grand Haven, Michigan.
In his presentation to the City Council, Harte said that Long Island, with its many youths that play soccer, was basically fertile ground for the series. But to hold the event, Harte would need eight fields, each 30x40 yards, on a Friday from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m., either in July or August. “On Sunday the beach is back to normal,” he said.
Harte said that his team has 10 field marshals and would not look for any city staff to set up or break down their own equipment. His market research estimates 11,000 soccer players, boys and girls between the ages of 7 and 19, are within a 15-minute drive of Long Beach. He anticipates about 75 teams would play the first year, which would total about 650 kids and parents, and to participated each team would pay $375.
In what he called a fiscally conservative prediction, Harte believes the tourney will generate about $60,000 in revenue for the local shops, a number that doesn't include gas stations and hotels. He believes that in five years the tourney could bring in over 4,000 players and at least $320,000 in revenue to Long Beach.
Paul Gillespie, chief of Long Beach Lifeguards, said the amount of space Harte needs would take up three of the city’s 24 beaches. Gillespie noted that “because the beach is so packed on the weekends, during the summer finding space for any kind of tournament will be tough.”
He believes the best time for the event would be early summer or during a weekday. He added that since the economic downturn, beach crowds have grown. “The beach is full by 1 p.m. on the weekend,” said Gillespie, who nevertheless loves the idea of bringing another sporting event to the beach.
“If the city OK’s it, we’ll work something out,” he added.
Meanwhile, Fagen, who has worked with Harte to possibly bring the tourney to Long Beach, awaits further details about it.
“Mr. Harte is providing us with economic impact information as well as details on the physical size of the event,” Fagen said. “We look forward to learning more about his event.”