If you're looking for the perfect climate for your event, look no further than the sports paradise that is Colorado Springs. An altitude of 6,035 feet ensures plenty of fresh mountain air for peak athletic performance and its location at the foot of the Rocky Mountains ensures over 300 sunny days a year.
This optimal environmental climate has resulted in the perfect cultural climate for sports events. That's why Colorado Springs is considered the sports leadership capital of the world; it's home to the United States Olympic Committee and Training Center and more than 45 national and international sports organizations. Furthermore, the community annually hosts more than 100 events—that adds up to about two every week – including the 2009 State Games of America. One of the most comprehensive sports events in the nation, more than 10,000 athletes compete in 31 events ranging from archery to wrestling at venues throughout the city.
With all of this activity, it's no wonder the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau and other community organizations have become expert at helping event organizers create exceptional experiences for their participants easily, efficiently and at a value.
Consider the experience of Ernst Piercy, fire chief of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. He organized a regional Firefighter Combat Challenge for the first time last year. It was a qualifier for a national event which annually attracts hundreds of North American municipal fire departments; the goal is to encourage firefighter fitness and demonstrate the profession's rigors to the public. Wearing 'full bunker gear' and breathing apparatus, competitors race head-to-head as they simulate the physical demands of real-life firefighting by performing a linked series of five tasks including climbing a five-story tower, hoisting, chopping, dragging hoses and rescuing a life-sized, 175-pound 'victim' as they race against themselves, their opponent and the clock.
At first, Piercy was overwhelmed with the idea of hosting the regional event, but the Convention and Visitors Bureau came to his rescue. "They played a critical role in facilitating the whole process," he explained, "from raising the host fees and helping me find other financial sponsors to signing the contract to helping with advertising and publicity. As a result, many teams that never participated before eagerly came to Colorado Springs. While most regional events are lucky to attract 30 teams, we attract more than 100! It was the largest regional event in the nation!"
Piercy fully attributes his success to the Convention & Visitors Bureau, and the Colorado Spring Sports Corporation, which exists to assist the community's Olympic, national and international sports organizations.
"I never could have made this event happen without their support," says Piercy.
"With the multitude of amateur, grassroots events that we host every year, we are very familiar with the process of taking an event successfully from start to finish, even if the organizer is not," said Cheryl McCullough, the Convention and Visitor Bureau's sales manager, Sports and Special Events. "From the smallest events to the largest, we know the drill and are well aware of what to expect and what to take into consideration that may not have ever crossed the organizers' minds. We always provide special recommendations—from hotels to caterers to photography and media to entertainment—that will catapult their event from good to absolutely spectacular.
The bureau is an invaluable resource to attain:
Leads and the very best rates for venues and hotels.
Personalized site inspections and assistance in identifying unique event locations.
Development of promotional materials, DVDs, posters, images and internet links.
Specialized recommendations for transportation, photographers and so much more!
As you would expect from a community that is home to the Olympic Training Center, Colorado Springs has literally dozens of world-class sports event venues. These include:
The United States Air Force Academy, featuring state-of-the-art facilities for boxing, gymnastics, rifle, water polo, fencing, swimming and diving, weight lifting, hockey, baseball, lacrosse, soccer, football and more.
The World Arena Ice Hall, one of the world's finest training facilities, home to dozens of world-class figure skaters and coaches, as well as the Division I Colorado College Men's Hockey Team. It features an NHL and Olympic ice sheets, three jump harnesses, video analysis and ballet studio.
El Pomar Sports Center, home court for the Colorado College basketball and volleyball teams. The building is equipped with a pool, auxiliary gym, climbing wall, racquetball and squash courts, a training room, modern exercise-physiology and bio-mechanics labs, and weight room. A 10,000-square-foot all-purpose Astroturf room accommodates indoor track as well as facilities for limited team practice in other sports.
Washburn Field, located behind El Pomar Sports Center, home stadium for Colorado College's football, men's lacrosse, and track and field teams. A six-lane, quarter-mile, latex track borders the perimeter of the gridiron, lights accommodate night activities and bleacher seating allows for 2,500 spectators. Adjacent to Washburn lies Stewart Field, home to the men's and women's intercollegiate soccer teams as well as the women's lacrosse squad. The recreational tennis courts border the football stadium.
The Richard Gossage Youth Sports Complex featuring baseball diamonds, soccer fields, handicapped access, scoreboards, skateboard facilities,BMX areas and access to the region's stunning hiking trails including Pikes Peak Greenway Trail, Sinton Trail and Templeton Gap Trails. In addition, Colorado Springs features dozens of softball, baseball and soccer fields.
The Memorial Park Skateboard Park designed and built by Team Pain, a world-renowned skate park design/build company, and can host evening events. The 40,000-square-foot, $1-million-plus park facility was voted the best skateboard park in Colorado by local entertainment publications.
The Norris-Penrose Events Center, at the foot of Pikes Peak, featuring state-of-the-art indoor and outdoor arenas. It's the perfect venue for equestrian events and rodeos. The outdoor arenas include four warm-up rings and one competition-size dressage arena along with spectator viewing areas and open judges stands. The climate-controlled 36,000-square-foot center features a sand and clay floor, allowing it to accommodate a diverse array of events.
The exceptional variety of venues is one of many reasons Mark Lucas, executive director of the United States Association of Blind Athletes, chose Colorado Springs to host the past three World Youth Championships attracting athletes from across the globe.
"Colorado Springs could easily accommodate all of our needs," says Lucas. "The facilities and venues are absolutely first class, and when our participants visit from another country, it's wonderful they can take that first-class event experience home with them.
"Moreover, Colorado Springs is so beautiful. While, of course, most of the athletes can't see Pikes Peak, or the breathtaking pink sunsets, they certainly can feel the energy of a culture that genuinely embraces athletes and an environment that is ideal for helping them reach their potential," he continues. "Our athletes and their coaches look forward to participating because they can visit Colorado Springs, it moves beyond sporting event to vacation."
"That's one of the reasons we are among the world's leading sports events destinations," says McCullough. "Participants can bring their entire family and easily stay a couple of extra days and enjoy amazing attractions like the Olympic Training Center, Pikes Peak, thousands upon thousands of acres of state parks, hiking and biking trails, and an abundance of free attractions. You can rest assured that none of your participants will get bored between competitions. This fun atmosphere, combined with our warm and welcoming environmental, business and cultural climate ensures that when you bring an event to Colorado Springs, you will most definitely be considered a hero by everyone who attends!"
For more information about Colorado Springs, go to www.VisitCOS.com.