Meridian, Miss. A major sporting event will take place this weekend in Meridian. The Mississippi Soccer Association Kohl's American Cup, which is the Division III Recreational League State Championships. One hundred four teams and roughly five thousand people will descend on Meridian this weekend for an event originally scheduled for Tupelo.
Hampton Thames of Meridian Youth Soccer said, "Due to the tornado and all the damage up there they are no longer able to handle it. This is the recreation soccer throughout our whole state. Every team that will be here had to compete 2 weeks ago in the 4 district tournaments that were held all over the state so this is a big deal."
With just nine days notice, the city of Meridian stepped up to host an event which normally takes month of prep work. Parks and recreation director, Kelvin McGruder, said that when he presented the idea to Mayor Bland, the mayor gave him simple instructions.
He said, "When Hampton mentioned it to us, he called and asked me what I thought, I said let me talk to the mayor and the mayor said 'make it happen'. And that's his main thing. We put a task force together; we had a special meeting with the staff. I asked Hampton for a list of needs and we started working. We'll be working all weekend and spend a little overtime money, but it's good."
The impact we will see in Meridian is nothing we haven't seen before. We hosted this very championship in 2012, and we've hosted the State Games.
According to Dede Mogollon of Meridian Tourism, "Our community is used to seeing the impact of State Games opening weekend where all of our restaurants are busy, our hotels are sold out. We will see that impact this weekend."