On November 5, the U.S. Bank Rim Rock Run brought more than 400 runners and their supporters to the greater Grand Junction area from across the country. The athletes stayed in local hotels, and ate and shopped in area establishments. In the days since the race, participants have shared their positive experiences in our community on social media and promoted the event to other runners.
This is exactly the outcome that the Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission (GGJSC) hoped for. A collaborative effort between Colorado Mesa University, the City of Grand Junction, Mesa County, the City of Fruita and the Town of Palisade, the GGJSC represents the region in attracting new and enhancing existing sporting events that capitalize on local strengths and positively impact the economy and community.
According to the National Association of Sports Commissions, the sport tourism industry drives approximately $8.96 billion of spending annually, and this amount is on the rise. Home to more than 10,000 miles of trails, alpine recreation, state-of-the-art athletic facilities, and abundant shopping and dining opportunities, the greater Grand Junction area is in an ideal position to increase its share of this growing market. Established in 2013, the GGJSC is dedicated to advancing this cause.
Though young, the organization already has a track record of success. Since its establishment, the GGJSC has brought the Special Olympics Colorado Summer Games, cycling and running races, including the Colorado Masters Swim Association State Championships and the Rim Rock Marathon, to the region.
Significant economic impact has been generated by these events. For example, the Special Olympics Summer Games draws more than 1,800 non-local participants and spectators and yields an estimated economic impact of more than $480,000 for the community.
Each sporting event brings participants, their support teams and spectators alike — sometimes from around the world — to the greater Grand Junction area. These individuals spend money on accommodations, meals and retailers. Industry research shows that the average amount spent on outdoor activities and sporting events in a market of our area’s size is $168 to $221 per person, per day. A family of four spends approximately $700 to attend a weekend sports event. Those dollars provide taxable revenue for the local economy.
Media coverage of these events and the positive experience the community provides promote additional tourism to the area as well, shining a spotlight on the natural amenities. Visitors to past events have included business owners who saw the area as a good place to relocate, contributing to the overall diversification of the local economy.
Hosting major sporting events has contributed to the quality of life in our region as well. These events are often open to local athletes, encouraging a healthy lifestyle. Since they require a large volunteer effort, community members are involved every step of the way. They also afford opportunities to attend incredible events that would otherwise be missing from our community. The greater Grand Junction area has a stellar reputation for being friendly and welcoming, and involvement in exciting sporting events only increases a larger sense of community.
Next spring, our area will host the 2017 USA Cycling Collegiate Road and Para-Cycling National Championship. (The collegiate race will return to the region in 2018.) We hope you’ll join us for these exciting races featuring world-class athletes. Our economy — and our community — will benefit.
About the Author:
Jennifer Stoll is the executive director of the GGJSC. She is a CMU graduate, has a master’s degree in Sport Administration from the University of Louisville and is currently pursuing her PhD in Sport Management from Troy University. Her sports background began as a student-athlete and her professional career includes working for the PGA of America’s Championships Department. Jennifer is a Certified Sports Event Executive and an active member of the National Association of Sports Commissions and the North American Society for Sport Management.