Minor league baseball seen as good fit for Grand Valley

Phil Castle, The Business Times

While it’s too early to yet predict the full effects of bringing a minor league baseball team to Grand Junction, the owners and managers of the squad believe they’ve found a good home.

“It’s really a no-brainer,” said Tim Ray, general manager of the Grand Junction Rockies. Ray called Grand Junction “the best baseball town in Colorado.”

Rockies press conference
Tim Ray, general manager of the Grand Junction Rockies, meets with reporters during a press conference officially announcing the relocation of the minor league baseball team. (Business Times photos by Phil Castle)

Dick Monfort, an owner of both the Colorado Rockies and the minor league team in Grand Junction, agreed. “It’s a great fit for us.”

A press conference officially announcing the relocation of the Rockies Pioneer League team from Casper, Wyo., to Grand Junction followed approval from the Grand Junction City Council on a lease agreement to use Suplizio Field.

Grand Junction Mayor Tom Kenyon said the timing couldn’t be better given ongoing improvements at Suplizio Field, including $8.3 million in renovations now under construction. “This is absolutely the best venue for the Grand Junction Rockies in their league.”

Jamie Hamilton, chairman of the Junior College Baseball World Series committee, said the minor league team will fit in with the annual junior college competition. Moreover, Hamilton said he expects the Rockies to fit in with the community. “These guys get what it’s about to be a member of the community.”

As of the Nov. 15 press conference, the team already had sold more than 400 season tickets, Ray announced.

Monfort said the Grand Junction team will employ a full-time staff of three as well as part-time workers to sell tickets and concessions. Visiting teams and baseball fans coming to the games likely will boost business for hotels and restaurants.

“There are all sorts of people this touches,” Monfort said.

Debbie Kovalik, executive director of the Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau, said the VCB is researching the effects of minor league baseball on other communities, but hasn’t yet come up with any definite estimates.

Nonetheless, Kovalik expects the Grand Junction Rockies and their 38 home games to bolster tourism business.

“It’s just another wonderful attraction for people who are coming here,” Kovalik said.