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Tournaments Jul 10, 2012

Field situation forces Maryland to forfeit hosting rights to Region I championships

By Charles Boehm

It’s been rumored in area soccer circles for a week or two, and The Soccer Wire can now confirm the bad news: Maryland will no longer be hosting the 2013 and 2014 U.S. Youth Soccer Region I National Championships.

Maryland State Youth Soccer Association president Ray Greenberg confirmed the development in a recent conversation with TSW, explaining that concerns about field conditions at the Carsins Run Fields, one of two northern Maryland venues (along with Cedar Lane Regional Park) selected to host the next two editions of the tournament, forced him to inform Region I president Bob Palmeiro that MSYSA had to reluctantly back out.

Greenburg noted that poor groundskeeping at the Harford County facility had thrown a major monkey wrench into the recently-completed 2012 Maryland State Cup, as participants in the tournament’s latter stages arrived at Carsins Run to discover that their fields had been covered in woody mulch which made for hazardous conditions and in some cases, forced games to be postponed altogether.

“They put mulch on the fields just before State Cup weekend. It was awful – huge pieces of mulch,” said Greenberg. “I’m not a sod or landscaping expert, but the experts said that they do that mulching twice a year, for nutrients for the soil. They do it on a regular basis but they should not have done that two days before our tournament.”

The situation appalled many participating teams and their families, left MSYSA scrambling and in Greenberg’s view, reflected a wider set of shortcomings on the part of Harford County officials.

“After the debacle at Carsins Run and the lack of commitment of the county to put money into the fields – they had promised money and it didn’t come through – I could not assure the president at our meeting in early June that the fields would be ready,” he continued. “So based on that, and my not wanting to have a substandard event, we voted, with my support, to withdraw the regionals from Maryland in ’13 and ’14….I was relieved, but very sad, because I really wanted the event to come here to Maryland.”

Hosting rights to the Region I championships, each of which involve some 4,000 players in a wide range of age groups representing 15 state associations from West Virginia to Maine, are awarded for two years at a time. Regional officials will select a new site at a meeting later this month, and Maryland will not attempt to find alternate hosting venues for a re-submitted bid.

“They’re going to make a decision at nationals in mid-July,” said Greenberg. “So not much time to put in a bid. I don’t see anything changing between now and then. The lack of commitment from Harford County to host the event there was very disappointing.”

State officials had predicted a total economic impact of some $25 million from the two events, including 15,000 hotel room nights for each tournament.

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