By Lindy Thackston
WESTFIELD, IN (July 13, 2015) - A national soccer tournament wraps up at Grand Park in Westfield Monday and another tournament is scheduled for next weekend. More than 3,000 players representing 28 U.S. states are in Central Indiana for the National Premier League Finals. Next weekend is the National Cup XIV Finals and more than 120 teams will descend on the area.
"It is the largest sports park in the country, if not the free world, and people come here and usually their reaction is about the same, saying wow, we had no idea what this was," said Westfield Mayor Andy Cook.
Mayor Cook expected 500,000 visitors last year in the opening year. He says the number ended up topping 900,000 and he expects about 1.2 million visits to the park in 2015.
"The purpose of Grand Park was to develop Westfield’s industry and our industry is not really soccer or baseball, our industry is hospitality," said Mayor Cook. "The goal is to get as many people as we can here and have hospitality build an industry. If you look around right now it’s kind of stark on the horizon."
"Was it kind of a little risk stepping out there? Yes," said the Mayor. "The next wave of what you’ll be seeing out here will be a great interest in sports-oriented businesses: Sports medicine, sports research, and some other sports that the private sector wants us to bring to this area in addition to the retail and hospitality."
Grand Park is more than 400 acres and there are dozens of fields. It cost $45 million to build.
Some residents say traffic isn't smooth sailing with the large crowds.
FOX 59 asked Mayor Cook how the surrounding area is handling the traffic and parking.
"We have some 8 or 9 parking lots. We have room for over 4400 cars. Between scattering the parking and how we schedule games such that we don’t have everybody arriving and leaving at once, like a concert, it’s worked out a lot better than we expected."
"Now what we’re concentrating on is making this an absolute great experience for our million plus visitors that visit Central Indiana. They’re a sporting crowd. We want them to visit the NCAA museum, we want them to see the Speedway, we want to give them much more that they can do."
The National Cup XIV Finals are set for July 17-20.