Huge youth soccer tournament hits town
The 22nd annual Grand Mesa Invitational Tournament, a youth soccer tournament hosted by the Grand Junction Soccer Club and Fire FC today and Sunday, will bring more than 2,000 families to Grand Junction from 134 youth soccer teams across four states.
The tournament was already the largest youth sports tournament in Grand Junction, according to the event’s executive director, Shaun Howe, but this year it added more than a dozen new teams.
Howe said the biggest draw for the event is the small-town feel matched with quality competition.
“I think people like coming back to a town like Grand Junction year after year,” Howe said. “I think we’re a little more accommodating than some of the bigger tournaments. In Denver you’ll have 400 teams, and it’s mostly about making money. We do little things like, if a coach brings two teams over, we try to schedule all their games at different times, so the coach can be at every game.”
Howe estimates nearly $800,000 will be brought into the community during the event through spending for hotels, food and shopping.
“We got that number from the (Grand Junction) Visitor Bureau, and they estimated $750,000. We have more teams coming this year, so there will be an increase in revenue.”
The youth soccer squads, including 20 Grand Junction club teams, will play games at Long Family Park and Canyon View Park.
The Grand Junction Soccer Club added teams from Wyoming for the first time in GMIT history and strengthened relationships with Front Range and Salt Lake area clubs.
“We have a large amount of teams from Park City, Utah, for whatever reason,” Howe said. “They like coming over here. We also draw teams from the bigger clubs in Denver, like Edge and Storm.”
Games begin at 8 a.m. today on all fields, and the latest games are slated to start at 6:30 p.m.
Sunday’s games will begin at 8 a.m., and the latest games are scheduled for 5 p.m.