Mountain Region: The Great Outdoor Playground
28 Feb, 2011By: Amy Henderson
The Mountain region of the United States has been known as the ideal playground for the winter sports enthusiast, but truth be told, this region is ideal for any sports enthusiast.
Made up of Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming the region offers more than just skiing.
The NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball organizations all have teams in the Mountain region as well as an abundance of minor league affiliates and collegiate teams.
The United States Olympic Committee is headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, along with more than 45 national governing bodies and other national sports organizations. With excellent facilities on the collegiate and professional level, it only stands to reason that the Olympics would utilize these resources for training and qualifying events.
Natural landscapes and resources play into the hand of venue selection and resources in the mountain region can be considered some of the most versatile in country. Mother Nature has taken it to a whole new level.
"Sometimes people have a misconception of the state of Colorado," said Chelsy Murphy of Experience Colorado Springs. "We have 300 annual days of sunshine and the scenery is pretty hard to beat."
"It's a great backdrop for so many tournaments," she continued. "The scenery provides that excellent element for a great event and with over 50 attractions in the region there is certainly something for everyone."
One event taking advantage of those sunny days in Colorado Springs is the U.S. Women's Open golf tournament. The Broadmoor East Course will host 156 professional and amateur golfers and more than 125,000 spectators.
"The Broadmoor is the main attraction for that event," said Murphy. "They are specifically designed for championship tournaments. Because of our weather, we can begin to play golf in February."
Not about to miss out on the same natural opportunities is Ogden, Utah.
"We are really trying to take advantage of the natural attractions in the area," said Rich Koski, director of sales for the Ogden/Weber Convention & Visitors Bureau. "There are 210 miles of single track mountain and biking trails. We have three ski areas in the county with great access to snowmobiling and we have good fast water for paddling sports in the spring."
The Ogden Marathon held every May has historically been a local marathon; however, its growth over the last several years has acted as a springboard for recognition in the area. According to Koski, the event has grown into a destination marathon with participants from all 50 states and was listed in the January 2011Runner's World magazine as great choice for a first marathon. Also, the event is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon.
In February, The Winter Dew Tour Toyota Championship returned to Ogden with the culmination of the tour at Snowbasin. More than 380 athletes returned to the tour for the third season.
With similar continued success, the XTERRA U.S. National Championships was held in September 2010.
"The world class facilities at Snowbasin," explains Trey Garman, vice president of XTERRA, of their choice in Ogden as the host city. "The mountain is just awesome and they have a great event team that puts on some really great events. The last couple years we have gotten the best weather conditions in the fall and the leaves are just turning into really beautiful scenery."
Henderson, Nevada, has not only the benefit of fantastic weather, but close proximity to one of the hottest destinations in the U.S. - Las Vegas.
Henderson is located just minutes from the Las Vegas strip which provides ample hotel accommodations for large groups. The area boasts over 100,000 square feet of flexible events space, 70 baseball fields and 16 regulation soccer fields with more in the works.
"We have secured a lot of international groups," said Ed Kirby, national sales manager with Destination Henderson. "Our proximity to Las Vegas has helped; no doubt about it, that has helped."
Henderson was named Sports Illustrated Sportstown by Sports Illustrated and the National Recreation and Park Association.
The World Tenpin Bowling Association (WTBA) has committed to Henderson for 2013 as well as the 2011 and 2012 International Triathlon Union Long Distance Triathlon World Championship.
"We work closely with the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority and Las Vegas Events," said Kirby. "We reach out a lot because we need to work together and we know how important those relationships are."
Success in the Community
Venue selection is a major part of any event's success, but nothing could be done without the people behind it including the event planner, the CVB, staff and volunteers.
The Ogden/Weber CVB certainly gives credit to the community for their part in the success of the sporting events that have been held there.
"We have maintained the Greater Ogden Athletic Legacy (GOAL) which is a database of volunteers and now a foundation that manage events and supply volunteers," said Koski. "That has been a key to our success."
Garman agrees. "For us, in Ogden and Snowbasin, the key is the community support from GOAL," he said. "They are able to rally the community and support the event. Any big event needs a lot of volunteers."
"Coupled with how cool and supportive the people are," Garman continued. "You can't ask for much more than what Ogden and Utah offer."
Corporate support also plays a major factor. Ogden began recruiting corporate businesses to help grow the area while capitalizing on the natural resources and creating a foundation for an outdoor friendly community.
Amer Sports, the maker of Salomon and Atomic skis, moved their headquarters to Ogden, joining Goode Ski Technologies, Scott USA and Rossignol.
"They provide sponsorships for events," said Koski. "They have become good corporate citizens and the employees participate in amateur events. We have created a niche with outdoor sports and focus on biking, running, climbing. Just about anything you want to do outdoors. We've kind of reinvented ourselves."
"Our partnership with corporations in our area is important," said Cheryl McCollough of Experience Colorado Springs. "That means keeping those relationships strong. "
Partnerships and technology have always gone hand in glove. With the internet being utilized as a major resource for event planners in choosing a destination, it's imperative that websites are up-to-date and accurate.
"When we talk with someone who is considering Colorado," said Cheryl McCollough of Experience Colorado Springs. "We send them to the website and it acts as another sales person for us. Event planners travel, so having a website that really communicates to the area is great to be able to provide."
With the insane growth of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, whether you are marketing a destination or searching for one, utilizing these sites is a no brainer.
"We are always looking to be in the forefront of technology," McCollough continued. "The visual aspect of social media is so important and knowing how to use those avenues to really get your name out there. We've really capitalized on that. We do have a mobile site, so planners can access our website from smart phones and we are currently working on an app as well to help during the planning stages and be a companion when they are on the road."
Some exciting events in the Mountain Region include: 2011 USA Field Hockey Championships and the National Campus Champ Series Soccer Championship to Phoenix; Denver Big took place in January and the area will host the 2012 NCAA Women's Basketball Championships Final Four and theFIL Men's Lacrosse World Championships in 2014. Utah will host the FIM Superbike World Championship in Tooele and the ABA BMX Big Mt. Jam in Sandy.
Key websites to access information on the mountain region, its venues, accommodations and attractions include: