Teams from Oklahoma, Arkansas, and all around Mississippi participated in the event. I had a field the entire weekend regarding the 8/9-year-old division. The teams are basically all-star players from their travel teams participating in the event.
FNC Park - as usual - did a fine job hosting the event. Some of the staff is or at one point was on the OHS Baseball Team or other high school teams. The park itself or the actual tournament was not the problem.
The hotels in the City of Oxford was however.
This bugged me once I heard about it. I had three teams from Oklahoma participating on my field the entire weekend. In local papers such as the Oxford Citizen and Oxford Eagle, it was all about how FNC Park was able to work out with the hotels to block up rooms for the visitors entering Oxford would have rooms for the teams and their parents and to be able to put this tournament on in order to earn the bid.
That's all fine and good - until the price of those rooms came out.
This is not an Ole Miss Football weekend where no matter what the charge is, the rooms will be booked. 60,000 fans are coming in to try and cram into 700 hotel rooms. After Oxford, the nearest ones are in Batesville near I-55.
At the Hampton Inn on the west side of town. I looked up the hotel prices on their website. They range from $119 a night (a normal rate in Oxford during the week) to $169 a night (weekend rate). I have heard from multiple families that the hotel was charging $220 a night - up $100 from a normal weekday rate and $50 of a weekend rate. Why? Because they knew about the tournament and purposely jacked up the prices.
Know what that did? Drive them out of Oxford. Those families were driven out of Oxford and out towards Batesville because they could not find a reasonably priced room in town or the hotel was already booked up. (Worth noting an International Conference was being held by Ole Miss in the science department the previous week causing the other hotel rooms to be booked up). Those families went to Batesville for a hotel room at more than half the price. They are also eating at those restaurants as well as Batesville is a hotbed for travelers on I-55. I'm willing to bet most of the available rooms for the tournament did not sell out.
This is not the first time the money-hungry hotels refused to do what the customers wanted. Oxford tried to place a bid for the Kohl's Cup - a Statewide Youth Soccer Tournament held once a year during the 1st weekend in May. A D3 Tournament where more than 100+ teams would participate. Oxford did not get that bid. You know why? The hotels were going to charge full fare to FNC Park just for the REFEREES to stay in a hotel room. $100 per night (that's for one of the cheaper hotels) - for two nights - to block off about 20 rooms just for the referees and other Mississippi Soccer Association staff members required to run the Tournament. Referees stay two to a room. For those doing the math, that is $4,000 just to spend on traveling referees and other MSA staff members needing to stay the night.
Let's put that into perspective - teams are charged on average around $350 for a Tournament Fee. Sounds like a lot, right? Well, 11-12 teams would have to enter the Kohl's Cup just to pay off the referees to stay at the hotel. That's not including the referee fees to pay for the games (which can cost anywhere from $44 to field a crew to as much as $100 per game - and that adds up quickly for as many games as they put on). If FNC Park could corral rooms for just even $70 a night, that would help decrease the cost by $1,200 - or about 3-4 teams fees' worth.
So let's redo the math: $10,700 (approx) in referee fees for all the games with full crews (a Center plus 2 Assistants) + a $800 assignor fee (is charged $5 per game to assign the refs), $4,000 for referees to stay in hotel rooms. In total team Tournament Fees, the income is around $32,000. Just in referee costs, it would be around $15,500 (enough to buy a new car) - leaving $16,500 for the rest of the Tournament where the Tournament Director gets paid, the staff that keeps all the scores and deals with the other money, not to mention the FNC Park Workers, and the fact that MSA takes some money as it is a major event by them (similiar how the MHSAA does it). At the end of it all, the profit margin does not reach 5 digits. FNC Park's real profit may only come from the parking fee they charge entering the park and whatever is made by the concession stands. The city of Oxford - should - benefit by eating at the restaurants and staying at the hotels (supposedly) because of the 2% food/lodging tax that is put on.
But the tournament doesn't go on if you cannot put the referees - especially those that travel - in a reasonably priced hotel room. If there is not adequate referees to field all the games, there is no tournament or there will be some REALLY poor refereed matches if there is not enough referees to give them some type of rest during the day.
But because the hotels "want their *fair* share", their greedy hands forced Oxford to not be able to host the tournament - and there is no money in their pockets. The teams that would be coming also couldn't stay there because we have hotels charging North of $200 when their regular rates are typically much further south of that mark.
If Oxford is EVER going to really be a hotbed for Soccer Tournaments in Mississippi - let alone along the Southeast - the hotels MUST do their part and accommodate within reason. Baseball has gotten up there, but it won't get much further if our reputation is that we charge the worth of King Midas.