Sports commission a hidden sparkplug
Have you heard about the Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission’s latest coup?
Probably not. Like the Grand Junction Economic Partnership and the United Way, the commission works tirelessly to make the Grand Valley a better place. But it does so in a very specific way and with a much lower profile.
The commission basically brings sporting events to Grand Junction, thus increasing exposure of the area’s many amenities and providing a economic boost at the same time.
For example, later this month, Grand Junction will host the USA Cycling Collegiate and Para Road National Championships. Last month the commission brought the state masters swim meet to town and this summer the Train to Hunt regional and national championships — combining fitness with archery shooting — will take place at Powderhorn.
Last fall the commission secured a $25,000 grant from the Colorado Tourism Office. The funds, added to the $50,000 investment from its public partners, means the commission will be fully funded for the 2017 fiscal year. The commission is a collaborative effort between Mesa County, Colorado Mesa University and the municipalities of Grand Junction, Fruita and Palisade, to promote sports tourism in the community.
It’s part of a comprehensive strategy to diversify the local economy. Retail options and medical care used to be the driving force behind out-of-town dollars circulating throughout the Grand Valley economy. The retail advantage has diminished, but outdoor recreation and sports tourism have immense potential, City Manager Greg Caton told the Sentinel’s editorial board last year.
The commission can either organize its own local sporting events — like the Rim Rock Run — or submit bids to host events for other organizations. For example, it submitted 20 bids to host NCAA championships for six different sports over a four-year period, ranging from 2018 to 2022. Winning bids will be announced today.
The commission also helped JUCO achieve recognition by SportsEvents Magazine as “an Award-Winning Event to Watch.” The commission nominated JUCO for the award and assisted in making the community aware of the award and getting people to vote.
“We are humbled to receive the award as a 2017 sports event to watch in America,” said Jamie Hamilton, JUCO tournament chairman. “Our community has known how special the JUCO tournament is, but with the assistance of the Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission, our volunteers and fans are getting the national recognition they so richly deserve.”
Jennifer Stoll is the executive director of the commission. The group has done a stellar job — with limited resources — of capitalizing on the valley’s assets. The public investment in sports tourism is starting to pay dividents. Hopefully recent successes will ensure that the public partners continue to give the commission the resources it needs to attract more events to the community.