KISS Tournament Boosts $800k Into Local Economy

KISS Tournament Boosts $800k Into Local Economy

Written by Emily Jodway

Kalamazoo, Mich.- The 28th annual KISS tournament took place over Memorial Day weekend in Kalamazoo, drawing in 104 teams of all ages from areas across the Midwest. Organized by MTS Events and hosted by local club Midwest United Kalamazoo, the KISS tournament has grown into a highly respectable and competitive youth soccer event that doubles as a large economic generator for the city each year.

The weekend’s games were played at Kalamazoo’s Drake Road and River Oaks soccer complexes, each with 14 and 23 playable fields, respectively. With over 100 teams spanning 20 divisions, players were split into team groups of four, six, and eight, playing in preliminary games within their group with the chance to qualify for bronze, silver, or gold division finals. Widespread competition from clubs around Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana including recreational, select, and premier teams attend and play in the tournament.

Out-of-state and local clubs alike enjoy the spring season event for the exposure to different teams and styles of play it brings. “The varied level of opponents from out of state makes it a different experience for our teams in regard to playing teams we don’t usually see in league play, and the venues are good as well,” said Mike Rance, Director of coaching at NWI Lions United. “It is in our plans to come back again next season, as we have had two good years of experience at KISS.

Each year, the KISS tournament’s economic impact is calculated via industry-wide research conducted by Discover Kalamazoo. “Based on the data we’ve gathered, the 2018 KISS Tournament had an estimated economic impact of more than $800,000 in direct spending, with 547 total [hotel] room nights picked up,” said Sports Event Development Manager Brian Persky. “Discover Kalamazoo views the KISS Tournament as one of the most long-standing and well-respected youth soccer tournaments in the region.”

With no games being played as part of the tournament on Memorial Day Monday, players, and spectators alike have the opportunity to explore the city and spend time bonding with their teammates and families outside of the soccer fields. “The event is valuable to our region because it brings in a couple thousand visitors to our area every year…they are staying overnight in our hotels, spending money out at our restaurants by eating out with their teammates and families, and purchasing good and services like groceries,” Persky said.

The tournament’s host organization Midwest United also attested to the importance of KISS to the local area and the youth soccer scene as a whole. A nonprofit club, Midwest United cites KISS as their biggest revenue and fundraising source for the club aside from player fees.

“Our teams did well. We hope the tournament grows each year so that we may provide more scholarship options for our members,” said Midwest United Technical Director Neil Ridgway. “We gain numbers from our participation, and we hope that our name carries some ‘weight’ across the region.”

Tournament organizer MTS Events looks ahead to growing the event in 2019, and has already seen commitments from major clubs within the region with plans to send their teams to the KISS tournament next year. “The KISS Tournament has been running in Kalamazoo for almost 30 years; it provides great competition and brings in teams from across the region. We play all games at two fantastic soccer complexes- Kalamazoo is very lucky to have two main soccer facilities like this,” said MTS Events Owner Marc Frankland. “We are looking forward to 2019 already.”

For more information on this and other upcoming tournaments, visit


About MTS Events

Established in 2007, MTS Events provides a turnkey solution to all your sporting event needs, including the setup, marketing and logistics involved in any successful sporting event. Located in downtown Grand Rapids, MTS Events is a growing, event management business that is focused on creating a positive event experience for everyone involved including players, coaches, spectators and staff.

2018 KISS Tournament Division Champions


Girls Gold: Midwest United FC Kzoo 09G Royal

U 9-10

Boys Gold: Midwest United FC Kzoo 08B Royal
Boys Silver: LSC 08


Girls Gold: Midwest United FC Kzoo 08G Royal


Boys Gold: Midwest United FC Kzoo 07B Royal
Girls Gold: Midwest United FC Kzoo 07G Royal


Boys Gold: DP United
Boys Silver: Midwest United FC KW 06B Black
Girls Gold: Midwest United FC Kzoo 06G Royal


Girls Gold: PSC 05 Green
Girls Silver: Midwest United FC Kzoo 05G Royal

U 13-14

Boys Gold: Kingdom SC 04/05 Boys Red
Boys Silver: BC FIRE U14 Boys
Girls Gold: Royal Oak FC ’05 Green
Girls Bronze: SWM 2005


Girls Gold: Midwest United FC Kzoo 04G Royal


Boys Gold: Nationals Union 03 Boys White
Girls Gold: Kingdom SC 03 Girls TT


Boys Gold: Nationals Union 02 Boys Red

U 17-18

Boys Gold: Midwest United FC Kzoo 01B Royal
Boys Silver: Marshall Redhawks 2001


Boys Gold: Troy RedHawks