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National soccer tourney coming to Myrtle Beach

Another national sporting event is coming to Myrtle Beach, providing a boost in visitors late in the summer, officials from the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce announced Tuesday.

World Soccer Tour, which has teams of three battle on the field, will hold its first three-on-three World Cup Championships in Myrtle Beach from Aug. 6 through Aug. 8.

The event, which will take place at Grand Park near The Market Common, is expected to draw between 1,000 and 2,000 athletes and fans from across the country, officials estimate.

"This is the first national soccer championship for Myrtle Beach and the first such championship to be played at Grand Park," Brad Dean, chamber president and CEO, said in a statement.

"It will be great for the athletes and spectators to have this caliber of sporting event close to a prime shopping, dining and entertainment spot on the Grand Strand."

To participate, teams must qualify in one of 50 qualifying tournaments in 27 states from December to July.

The tour's organizers said they picked Myrtle Beach because of its attractions that will keep fans busy.

"Myrtle Beach is the ideal location for our World Cup because it offers a family destination that will provide our athletes and their family members with plenty to do on and off the soccer fields," Adam Germek, vice president of World Soccer Tour's sales and partnerships, said in a statement.

Some members of Coast Futbol Alliance, a group of more than 450 children and teenagers who play soccer along the Grand Strand, will likely participate, said Ross Morgan, co-director of coaching at Coast FA. The group has a series of three-on-three soccer tournaments during the summer.

"Something that large coming to Myrtle Beach - it's great," he said. "I'm glad. It's about time. We've got such a wonderful area."

This, along with other recent sports tourism announcements, is diversifying the sports tourism landscape in Myrtle Beach, said Roy Edmondson, sports sales manager for the chamber.

"It's using what we have here and trying to go after those events that fit our market," he said.

"This one fit well into our area, so we pursued it."

Chamber officials discussed the Confederate battle flag on the Statehouse grounds, and it was not a problem for the World Soccer Tour, Edmondson said.

The controversy has drawn much attention since the Atlantic Coast Conference withdrew a baseball tournament last summer after disapproval from the state conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

In December, USA Track & Field named Myrtle Beach as the site of two new track events that will come to the area in 2011.

The organization chose the city's Doug Shaw Stadium as the site of the USA Youth Outdoor Track & Field Championships, which will take place June 26 through July 3, 2011, and the Whispering Pines Golf Course as the location of the USATF National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships on Dec. 12, 2011.

It marked the first time the organization, which is the national governing body for track and field, long-distance running and race walking, has awarded a city two youth championships in the same year.