CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- Starting April 27, history will be made as the entirety of both the NCAA men's and women's soccer tournaments will be played inside the state of North Carolina. It's an extraordinary event during extraordinary times.
"All of this is at the last minute. This planning is taking place in about four to five weeks compared to a normal six to 12 months," said Scott Dupree, the Executive Director of the Greater Raleigh Sports Alliance.
Dupree said he wasn't surprised when the NCAA reached out late last year.
"What they really know is that the framework is already established here," Dupree said. "This is probably the one place they could pick up the phone and call and say 'can we pull this off?' So now we're about to find out if we can do it."
The seamless partnerships in place between the city of Cary, the GRSA and everyone else involved, including official host school UNC, made it a no-brainer. Unlike basketball, soccer presents some unique logistical concerns.
"You've got to deal with weather, and you also have to give the fields time to recover," Dupree said. "You can't find a nice soccer field and play on it all day and all night; you have to find lots of fields that are all high quality enough. Not just regular soccer fields but elite soccer fields."
In all, 84 teams will spend the first two rounds scattered at locations across the state before descending on Cary for the rest of their respective tourneys.
"It's going to be a controlled environment," Dupree said. "Extensive health and safety protocols, extensive testing. We're still working out the hotel plan but the teams are going to be in as few hotels as possible."
It all culminates with a championship doubleheader at WakeMed Soccer Park on May 17. Dupree will be there with a smile on his face.
"Cary is the college soccer capital of the US," he said.
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