With its soaring peaks, desert lands and rolling plains, the mountain region features the most diverse geography of any area in the U.S. Sports event planners benefit from the stunning natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains and other ranges, first-class facilities, eclectic accommodations, dining options for every palate and budget and family-friendly attractions.
The following sampling of regional destinations provides an unforgettable experience with many reasons to keep coming back.
Las Cruces, New Mexico
Rich in history, culture and hospitality, Las Cruces, New Mexico is nestled in Mesilla Valley against the backdrop of the Organ Mountains.
Sports play a major role, with more than 25 venues equipped to host football, baseball, softball, soccer, BMX, skating, basketball, golf, tennis, tee-ball, track and field, swimming, volleyball and more. Las Cruces, the second largest city in the state, also offers over 200 restaurants and more than 3,000 hotel rooms.
Easily accessible from two major interstates and the El Paso International Airport in Texas, the city additionally boasts a mild year-round climate, 350 days of sunshine a year and an average precipitation rate of just over 10 inches. For those reasons, visitors can enjoy sports events, activities, attractions and festivals throughout the year.
“Come to Las Cruces,” said Ed Carnathan, sports sales manager of Visit Las Cruces. “We’re playing outside 365 days a year.”
Sports and recreation are a big deal in Kalispell, Montana, a mountain town known for working hard and playing hard. Residents and visitors alike are lovers of outdoor activities, such as hiking, climbing, biking and logger, water and snow sports.
The four-season town offers a variety of venues: Kidsports Complex, Northwest Montana Fair & Event Center, Montana Raceway Park, indoor and outdoor equestrian venues, hockey rinks, extensive trail systems and more than 500 lakes and rivers.
In fact, sporting events are only one reason to visit. Located just minutes from Glacier National Park and Flathead Lake, the largest freshwater lake in the west, the area offers myriad options in family-friendly lodging, dining and activities.
“Our visitors are blown away by the crystal-clear waters of our lakes and rivers, stunning views in every direction and welcoming and friendly locals,” said Diane Medler, director of Discover Kalispell. “All of that makes for an event that nobody soon forgets.”
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Colorado Springs, Olympic City USA, offers stunning backdrops, unrivaled venues and a sports culture unlike any other destination. Approximately 60 national and international sports organizations, 24 Olympic NGBs, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center all call this Rocky Mountain region home.
The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum and the William J. Hybl Sports Medicine and Performance Center will debut in 2020. Ground has also broken on a new downtown stadium and indoor events center, both set to open in 2021.
The area is a winning choice for planners. Athletes are inspired by citywide views of Pikes Peak from state-of-the-art venues, fields and event centers. In addition, Colorado Springs boasts ample sunshine alongside mild temperatures, making it a viable option even in the shoulder seasons.
“Our strong sports ecosystem, exciting new projects, including additional venues, and experienced staff create an exceptional destination for your next event,” said Cheryl McCullough, director of sports and special events for Visit Colorado Springs.
Fargo and West Fargo, North Dakota, and Moorhead, Minnesota
The sister cities of Fargo and West Fargo, North Dakota, and Moorhead, Minnesota are known for small-town atmospheres and big-city vibes with an array of cultural influences, attractions and activities.
The Fargodome, a multi-purpose facility, has hosted USA Wrestling Junior and Cadet National Championships for more than 25 years. The North American Fastpitch Association World Series took place in 2017-18 at the North Softball Complex, which will also host the USA Softball Class E Nationals in 2020. Scheels Arena is home to the Fargo Force, a USHL hockey team.
Frostival is a six-week celebration of winter which takes place from mid-January through February. Another popular tourist destination is the infamous woodchipper from the movie “Fargo,” which is housed within the visitor center.
“The 20-plus facilities are not only state-of-the-art,” said Fargo-Moorhead Athletic Commission Director of Sports Kali Mork, “but also offer the Midwest friendliness and professionalism that have come to define the region.”
Davis County, Utah
Davis County is Utah’s most popular playground. In addition to seven family-friendly amusement centers and 10 golf courses, the Great Salt Lake is a world-famous geographic feature that astronauts can see from space.
The best place to experience the lake is the 7.2-mile causeway to Antelope Island State Park, which offers spectacular views on both sides. Once on the island, popular activities include biking, hiking, birdwatching and the annual roundup of more than 600 bison to be checked by veterinarians and released or sold at auction.
Davis County is also the perfect basecamp for a ski or snowboard event, with access to nine world-class winter sports resorts all within a one-hour drive. In addition, the area offers over 400 restaurants and more than 1,900 rooms at 21 hotels, with more opening each year.
“We’re just minutes from downtown Salt Lake City and the Salt Lake City International Airport,” said Jessica Merrill, tourism director for Davis County, “so whether it’s business or pleasure, Davis County is your perfect destination.”
With a vibrant, walkable downtown and easy access to mountains, rivers and lakes, Boise, Idaho offers the perfect combination of urban lifestyle and outdoor activities including skiing, mountain biking, hiking, boating, river rafting and fishing.
The Boise State Broncos play at the 33,500-seat Albertsons Stadium located at Boise State University. The Boise Hawks, a farm team for the Chicago Cubs, compete in the 3,500-seat Memorial Stadium. The 5,000-seat Centurylink Arena is home to both the Idaho Steelheads, an AA affiliate of the NHL Dallas Stars, and the Idaho Stampede, part of the NBA Development League.
Offering 31 meeting rooms and 86,000 square feet, Boise Centre is the state’s largest convention center. Just four blocks from downtown is the Boise River Greenbelt, a 25-mile walking and biking path.
“With its convenient air access from most major U.S. cities, an expanded convention center surrounded by hotels and outdoor adventures, Boise really does have it all,” said Taylor Williamson, sports/convention sales manager for the Boise Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Mountain View Event Center in Pocatello, Idaho
Located in Pocatello, Idaho, the 40,000-square-foot Mountain View Event Center is a new multi-purpose facility that can be configured for nearly any size athletic event, trade show, company meeting, reception or party.
The venue has hosted a range of sporting events through the quick placement of special equipment for gymnastics, volleyball, basketball and dance competitions. In addition to ample space for spectators, the center offers modern locker rooms with separate areas for officials, coaches and medical personnel.
Trade shows are similarly accommodated, with convenient same-floor equipment doors. In addition, its high ceilings and climate-controlled environment ensure the comfort of exhibitors and attendees. The center is also easily accessible at the intersection of I-15 and I-86, aided by daily regional airport and bus service.
“Outstanding service isn’t just a catchphrase we use,” said Raul Cano, executive director of Mountain View Event Center. “It’s the only way we do business.”
Utah Valley, Utah
Located in North Central Utah, with picturesque mountains framing the county on both sides and a scenic lake in the middle, Utah Valley is a premier setting offering year-round adventure.
While known for its world-class skiing, Utah Valley enjoys all four seasons. Venues range from rustic mountain retreats, modern convention centers and concert halls to facilities for every sport. Athletic venues include Spanish Fork Sports Park, home to 12 baseball and softball diamonds; UCCU Center, an 8,000-seat multi-purpose arena; and Peaks Ice Arena, a 2,700-seat 2002 Olympic venue with two ice sheets.
Utah Valley is also home to an endless array of family-friendly museums, performing arts events and festivals, along with resorts and other lodging to fit all needs and budgets.
“Utah Valley’s incredible venues and stunning setting create the perfect backdrop for any competition,” said Lee Adamson, director of sales for Explore Utah Valley. SDM