Sports promotions sharpen competitive edge

The Grand Valley offers a lot to attract tourists: outdoor recreation, scenic beauty and, of course, wineries and breweries. But some of the biggest draws involve sports: soccer tournaments, cycling competitions and running events.
It only makes sense, then, to promote sports as a way to bring more visitors to the area.

Fortunately, an organization formed to do just that has experienced success and a growing measure of recognition for its collaborative efforts.

The Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission has announced in quick succession plans to bring an American Softball Association fast-pitch tournament to the Grand Valley in April and the selection of Grand Junction to host the USA Cycling collegiate road national championships in both 2017 and 2018.
The softball tournament, the first such ASA event on the Western Slope, is expected to bring about 60 teams competing in three girls age divisions. The cycling championship features up to 400 of the top road cyclists from colleges across the country.

The commission also announced that it was among the winners of a Readers’ Choice Award from SportsEvents, a trade publication for sports event organizers and the sports commissions, visitor bureaus, hotels and other vendors that work with them. The Grand Junction commission received the award in a category for destinations to watch in 2016. Hopefully, that’s prophetic.

Colorado Mesa University has taken the lead in promoting sports tourism in providing the salary and office space for Jennifer Stoll, executive director of the sports commission. But four other partners also are involved in funding the commission and its efforts: Mesa County, the cities of Fruita and Grand Junction and the town of Palisade.

The efforts of the sports commission tie in nicely with the work of the Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau and others to promote tourism and, in turn, economic development.

Those efforts pay off when visitors fill hotel and motel rooms, buy restaurant meals and shop in stores. Tourism also contributes to sales and lodging tax revenues. The VCB reported that lodging tax collections for 2015 totaled almost $1.4 million. That’s an increase, by the way, of 9.1 percent over 2014.

There are additional benefits from promoting sports events, including media coverage that draws attention to the area. That’s not to mention the repeat business that comes from people who initially come to the Grand Valley as sports participants or spectators, then come back as tourists.

Promoting sports events also can help in developing and maintaining a sort of brand for a community. That couldn’t be more fitting in the Grand Valley, where outdoor recreation is considered one of the potential selling points for the area.What better way to build on that brand than to promote sports events involving outdoor recreation? Mountain biking competitions are among the events that immediately come to mind.

Thankfully, there are abundant reasons for tourists to come to the Grand Valley. Congratulations to the Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission and its constituent partners on their success in promoting even more reasons to do so. Here’s hoping they can build on that success in the months and years to come.