Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

February 13, 2014

Economic kick: Professional soccer welcomed

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — The Southern West Virginia King’s Warriors, a member of the United Soccer League’s Premier Development League, is relocating from Beckley to Bluefield in a welcomed move that will bring professional soccer to our region. This was an unexpected, yet superb, development for the greater Bluefield area.

The team decided to make the move to Bluefield after it was notified last October that the YMCA facility in Beckley would no longer be available to the United Soccer League’s PDL franchise. The new development league will now be based out of the East River Soccer Complex in Bluefield.

There are more than 100 teams in the United States and Canada in the United Soccer League and the Premier Development League has 64 clubs. The King’s Warriors will play in the five-team South Atlantic Division. Other teams in that division are the West Virginia Chaos, based in Charleston, the Carolina Dynamo from Greensboro, N.C., the Cincinnati Dutch Lions, the River City Rovers of Louisville, Ky., and the South Carolina United Bantams from Greenwood, S.C.

The season will consists of 14 games and the King’s Warriors will play seven regular home season games and one “friendly” at the East River Soccer Complex. The “friendly” contest is against the USL’s Pro Division Charlotte Eagles. The King’s Warriors are an affiliate of the Eagles.

Maximum ticket prices will only be $8 per game and there will be discounts for youth players. The first game will be Friday, May 16, at 7 p.m. against the South Carolina United Bantams.

The arrival of the Southern West Virginia King’s Warriors in Bluefield is great news, and a fantastic addition to the region’s spring and summer recreational opportunities. In addition to Minor League Baseball teams in both Bluefield and Princeton, we will now have professional development league soccer to enjoy as well.

The team is part of the Nehemiah Group, a Christian non-profit organization founded by Dr. James Blume Jr., a Summers County physician, pastor and soccer enthusiast.

“The King’s Warriors are the most visible component of the Nehemiah Group,” Blume said last week in a press conference announcing the arrival of the development league in Bluefield. “We have players from all over the world, from all continents and we are trying to make opportunities for kids in this area and bring a professional level of soccer to this area.”

Given the strong Christian component of the league, area families can anticipate clean, family fun. And the local economy can expect another boost from the arrival of professional soccer. Area hotels, motels, restaurants, convenience stores, department stores and shopping malls will benefit from the out-of-town players, teams, family members and fans who will be traveling to Bluefield.

It’s a win-win for all. And, for once, Beckley’s loss is Bluefield’s gain.