When it comes to sports, no other area of the country can say it has as much to offer as Colorado Springs. The region not only is home to 45 national sports organizations (22 of which are national governing bodies), but also has the venues and expertise to host all types of competitions and world-class events.
“Sports has such a huge presence here,” says Cheryl McCullough, senior sales manager for sports and special events for the Colorado Springs CVB. “We have dozens of amateur and grassroots sports organizations, which leads to excellent venues and a community that is very sports-oriented and supportive. This all helps to differentiate us from other cities.”
For sports tourism, that’s a huge difference—and advantage. “A lot of people call Colorado Springs a sports Mecca,” McCullough continues. “There’s always something going on in this area, and that helps to attract even more sports and events. The opportunity to work with all these organizations and event organizers to make their events successful is just awesome.”
Not only is the city home to the U.S. Olympic Committee, but it also has an official U.S. Olympic Training Center that recently opened its doors to hosting all types of events, including nontraditional sports (in March, it hosted a sport-stacking regional championship). The facility includes an Olympic-size swimming pool, indoor shooting range, Velodrome and gymnasiums. Additionally, since the venue is used to train Olympic and Paralympic athletes, there also are weight rooms, a sports laboratory and athlete dormitories, as well as an education center.
“We definitely are diverse and have venues that can handle all sorts of sports, including nontraditional events,” McCullough says. “We recently wrapped up two huge hockey tournaments, and now we have our baseball tournaments. Soccer is big too, as are all field sports. We have amazing figure skating events here, venues for swimming, equestrian, BMX, skateboarding—we have a lot of flexibility.”
Facilities For Any Event
For sports event organizers and tournament owners, Colorado Springs has everything necessary to run a successful, profitable and fun event. There are dozens of softball/baseball fields and multi-use fields available, at a multitude of venues. Some of the major facilities:
• El Pomar Youth Sports Park has nine baseball/softball fields, eight natural grass soccer/lacrosse fields, and one championship-size artificial turf field among its 58 acres. The park also features an outdoor inline hockey rink and a full-service concession area. In May 2013, the facility will host the U.S. Lacrosse WCLA Championships for the second straight year.
• Colorado Springs World Arena and the World Arena Ice Hall is home to Division I Colorado College Tiger hockey. The World Arena has 8,000 seats and 19,500 square feet on the arena floor (26,000 square feet in the concourse) and is large enough to host world-class events while maintaining an intimate setting. The World Arena Ice Hall, with NHL and Olympic ice sheets, is an official U.S. Olympic training site for figure skating and home to dozens of world-class skaters and coaches.
• Colorado College El Pomar Sports Center, home to the college’s basketball and volleyball teams, also has a pool and racquetball and squash courts. The lighted Washburn Field is the college’s stadium for football, men’s lacrosse and track and field teams. A six-lane, quarter-mile, latex track borders the perimeter, with seating for 2,500 spectators. Stewart Field is home to the men’s and women’s soccer teams as well as women’s lacrosse.
• Memorial Park provides a wealth of outdoor opportunities, with three baseball/softball fields, 15 football/soccer fields, 12 tennis courts, Mark "Pa" Sertich Ice Center (with 2,000 seats) and the 7-Eleven U.S. Olympic Training Center Velodrome, a fast track used for bicycle and inline skating training/racing.
• Memorial Skateboard Park, created by world-renowned skate park design/build company Team Pain, is a 40,000-square-foot facility that can host events, day or evening. Amenities include bowls, a street course, backyard-style pool and a unique “hole-in-the-wall" feature. Last year, two new six-foot and 14-foot vertical ramps were added.
• Rick “Goose” Gossage Youth Sports Complex features baseball diamonds, soccer fields, 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.
• Norris-Penrose Events Center, at the foot of Pikes Peak, features state-of-the-art indoor and outdoor arenas that are perfect for equestrian events and rodeos. The outdoor arenas include four warm-up rings and one competition-size dressage arena along with spectator viewing areas. The climate-controlled 36,000-square-foot center features a sand and clay floor, allowing it to accommodate a diverse array of events including motocross, monster truck events and concerts.
In addition, there are many more facilities available in Colorado Springs, such as:
• Cottonwood Creek Complex: three baseball/fast-pitch softball fields, four soccer fields, tennis courts, in-line hockey court, disc golf course, walking and running paths
• Four Diamond Sports Complex: four baseball/fast-pitch softball fields, football/soccer field
• The Grace Center: centrally located multi-sports complex with football field, soccer/lacrosse field, baseball field, and track & field surface
• Leon Young Youth Sports Complex: eight baseball/fast-pitch softball fields
• Olympic 7-Eleven Velodrome: 600 seats and two tracks
• Palmer Park: two baseball/fast-pitch softball fields, football/soccer field, 25 miles of trails (hiking, jogging, equestrian), three volleyball courts
• Sky Sox Security Service Baseball Field: suitable for a variety of events, with seating for 8,400
• Sky View Adult Softball Complex: eight baseball/fast-pitch softball fields
• University of Colorado at Colorado Springs: facilities include basketball/volleyball court and multiple fields for softball, soccer, etc.
Many people think of Colorado Springs, at 6,035 feet, as having snow all the time. In reality, its location on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains produces a much more inviting (and mild) climate. The area has more than 300 days of sunshine annually and average temperatures range from 41 degrees in January to 85 in July.
“We’re considered an ‘alpine desert,’ and it’s a much drier climate here,” McCullough says. “It’s a great vacation, or ‘sport-cation,’ area. There is a lot to see and do—we have more than 55 attractions in this region, and half of them are free. It’s a great opportunity for families to pack up the car, come and enjoy their child’s tournament, then enjoy the sights.”
Those sights are some of the most beautiful in the country. In fact, Katharine Lee Bates, a teacher at Colorado College in the 1890s, was inspired to write the lyrics to “America the Beautiful” after a trip up Pikes Peak.
Colorado Springs is centrally located in the U.S. and easy to reach. Highways lead right into the heart of the region, and the airport is 11 miles from downtown. The more than 14,000 hotel rooms can accommodate any size sporting event while meeting the needs of any budget.
Services the CVB can provide include help with finding accommodations; personalized site inspections and assistance in locating unique event sites, promotional materials, DVDs, posters and images; recommendations for transportation, photographers, caterers and more.
“Not only does our location make Colorado Springs a convenient, economical, and exciting choice, but we have the venues and expertise to host competitions, invitationals, conferences, and world-class sporting events of any size or budget—it’s really one-stop planning for a successful and well-organized event,” McCullough says. “Plus, we really value the relationships we have with our event organizers.”
For more information, visit VisitCOS.com/Sports.