Bill Terry didn’t need a website to tell him this was one of the best soccer cities in the country.
But it was validated recently when Livability.com named Murfreesboro one of the top 10 midsize soccer cities in the country.
“We were pretty excited when we found out,” said Terry, who is president of the Murfreesboro Soccer Club. “We’ve known for a while that we have one of the better programs in the state. We’ve got one of the largest that are under the Tennessee umbrella. We have state-of-the-art facilities.
“Obviously, we feel like there is no better facility in the Southeast than what we have at Richard Siegel Park.”
Murfreesboro was ranked fifth of 10 in the poll, sandwiched between No. 4 Rock Hill, S.C. and No. 6 Chapel Hill, N.C.
The Richard Siegel Soccer Complex is a $13.5 million facilty, which includes 15 fields and a championship stadium and spans 132 acres. It helped the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce along with the Murfreesboro Soccer Club catch U.S. Youth Soccer’s attention. Last year, the city hosted the U.S. Youth Soccer Division I Southern Region Championships. A year prior to that U.S. Youth Soccer brought in the President’s Cup, which is a Division II national tournament.
“When we are looking to host events, the quality of the complex is our top priority,” said Todd Roby, director of communications at U.S. Youth Soccer in a press release. “This generally indicates what a community has invested in the sport and their interest in growing the game.”
Blackman High soccer coach Bill Vice, who is the director of coaching at Murfreesboro Soccer Club, admitted to being a little apprehensive at first to the high ranking. Murfreesboro is the lone Tennessee city in the poll.
“I was pretty surprised,” Vice said. “When it first came out we were doing a camp. I kind of laughed. But then I looked out and we had about 150 kids of all ages participating. I think it’s pretty interesting.
“I guess it validates what we’re doing. We’re kind of in the shadow of the super club in Franklin. They cast a big shadow around the area. We’re coming out of the shadow.”
Thomas Laird, the athletic superintendent for the Murfreesboro Parks and Recreation Department, said it’s not just the facility that gives Murfreesboro such high recognition. The community has a huge part in it for its ability to volunteer for big soccer events.
“This really is a soccer city,” Laird said. “That’s what we are. We have great facilities, but other cities have great facilities. But they don’t have the community support.
“That brought recognition on a national level. Folks from all over the country came in and they were accommodated when they were here because the city rolled out the red carpet. The city seems to always do that when events are held here (in Murfreesboro).”
About 650 volunteers worked at last year’s southern regionals. Fourteen parks employees worked different shifts at the complex during the tournament.
There are benefits from that community support. The city estimated that it brought in about $8 million in tourism during the U.S. Youth Soccer Division I Southern Region Championships last year when more than 180 teams came to Murfreesboro. And in 2010, more than $700,000 in tourism came along with the 32 teams that participated in the Presidents Cup.
“This is certainly an unexpected surprise and a great honor,” said Mona Herring, vice president of the Rutherford County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It has been a pleasure to host several national soccer tournaments, which has showcased this world-class facility and propelled us to be included on this prestigious list.”