VOL. 127 | NO. 197 | Tuesday, October 9, 2012
By Don Wade
Like so many good ideas, the one for the Mike Rose Soccer Complex had buy-in from several quarters.
The Mike Rose Soccer Complex stadium is home for the University of Memphis men’s and women’s teams. The facility’s 16 regulation fields and 2,500-seat stadium also play host to numerous tournaments annually.
(Photos: Lance Murphey)
The late John C. Talley developed the business plan. Then Shelby County Mayor Jim Rout supported the concept.
The corporate community believed the complex could be a success, and the soccer community was starving for a state-of-the-art facility that could change soccer’s footprint in the area.
“John would be very pleased and proud with how soccer has grown in Memphis,” said Kim Talley, John’s wife, and general manager at the complex, which opened in August 1998.
“Soccer wouldn’t be what it is in Memphis without this facility,” said assistant general manager Simon Lacon.
As important as the complex has been for soccer, it has been just as successful for Memphis-area business. When out-of-town teams come in for tournaments – and even international squads have to come to Memphis to play at Mike Rose – they bring not just coaches and players, but family and friends.
A recent U.S. Soccer Federation report calculated economic impact for four major tournaments to be most likely just under $7 million for a metro area such as Memphis, but possibly almost $8 million. And that’s not counting local attendees.
The calculations are based on an average stay of two nights, with an average hotel cost of $125 per day and $250 in other expenditures, such as restaurants and entertainment, over those two days.
And remember, this is just for four tournaments. This year, the complex has 20 tournaments – of various sizes – on the schedule. Each year, Lacon says, they book about 28,000 rooms through their hotel program. Out-of-town teams are required to reserve rooms at one of the complex’s “preferred” or “approved” hotels, standard operating procedure for a soccer or baseball complex.
Courtyard by Marriott Collierville, which is near the Mike Rose Complex just off Tenn. 385 where Memphis and Collierville come together, is one of the “preferred” hotels.
“They’re one of our top three accounts,” said Cindy Kinard, the hotel’s director of sales. “They provide a lot of weekend business.”
The hotel also has the advantage of being at The Avenue Collierville.
The University of Memphis women’s team, who plays its home games at the Mike Rose Soccer Complex stadium, recently defeated the University of Southern Mississippi.
“All the soccer moms, they love the mall,” Kinard said.
For players and coaches, of course, it’s about the fields. Mike Rose has 16 FIFA regulation fields, plus the 2,500-seat stadium field that was dedicated in 2001 and serves as the home field for the University of Memphis men’s and women’s soccer programs.
“And if other college fields are flooded, they come play at Mike Rose,” Talley said.
This year, she said they expect somewhere between 7,000 and 7,500 games will be played at the complex.
“So our challenge,” she added, “is making sure we have grass. We have an outstanding maintenance staff.”
Larry Creson, 48, executive director of the Mid-South Futbol Club and a former pro player for the old indoor league Memphis Storm, still sounds stunned at the quality of the fields available to young players.
“They are playing on surfaces I never got to play on coming up,” he said.
“It makes players want to play,” said Paul Furlong, executive director of the Collierville Soccer Association. “Although they may take it a little for granted now.”
The Mike Rose Soccer Complex has been around long enough that growth has occurred in many ways. Adult league participation, for example, has grown from around 400 players to about 2,000, Lacon said.
“When they finish playing as youth, they know they’ve got a place to play if they aren’t going to college,” Talley said.
But the impact on youth players who want to play in college is undeniable. College showcases for high school boys and girls are now a staple at Mike Rose.
“You won’t see North Carolina, here, to be honest,” Creson said, “but you will see small D1, D2 and D3 for the men and we’ve actually got a lot of girls from here playing in the SEC.”
When the Talley’s son, Carey, was still playing professionally in MLS he’d bring in players once a year for a fundraiser to benefit the John C. Talley Pediatric Neurological Research Fund. In recent years, they’ve held a benefit golf tournament.
As for what might come next for the Mike Rose Soccer Complex, Kim Talley isn’t quite ready to say, but one gets the feeling there is another idea.
“There might be something down the road,” she said with a smile. “Who knows?”