It's soccer fever around the globe as teams battle it out for a chance to take home the World Cup, but Palm Beach County has soccer fever on a local level as over 200 youth soccer teams across the U.S. have invaded Wellington in hopes of becoming national champions.
But it's not just fun and games... the economic impact is expected to be huge.The youth tournament is every 2 years and this year Wellington scored the winning goal.
The matches don't began until Thursday but if the opening ceremonies are an indication the economic impact could last for some time.
In true World Cup fashion 3500 soccer players from across the country walked the track at Palm Beach Central High School as they were introduced. Some came from as far as Hawaii.
"To make it across the continental U.S. what a great experience for this young man, " says Hawaii Coach John Verarde.
In the stands hundreds of friends and family cheered in excitement for their favorite teams. The national president of NYSO, Mike Wade, says choosing the International Polo Club as it's playing field was a no brainer.
"It was a very easy decision the facilities here at the polo club are second to none," says Wade.
And it's a goal Palm Beach County Sports Commissioner George Linley says he's been trying to score for four years.
"These national games take place once every two years, this is the first time these games are in Florida," says Linley.
Working with the local AYSO, Linley says they put together a bid highlighting the International Polo Club. "Because of the 220 teams they needed to find a venue that could host 30 soccer fields in one location, you can fit four to six soccer fields on one polo field."
But besides the convenience, the economic impact from hosting the games is huge with 10,000 hotel rooms from Jupiter to Boca Raton booked and a possible $7 to $8 million return on a $200,000 investment.
But while the adults think of economic impact and location Palm Beach County kids are just happy to have home field advantage.
"I'm excited because I don't have to travel far and we made it to nationals it's like the best thing in the world," says Brittany Benedict.
The games kick off Thursday. The next host will be Knoxville.
©2007 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Latest Local News Stories