Memorial Day weekend starts the summer season, and in the Pikes Peak region that means more bikers, hikers and outdoor recreation activities. It also translates to added revenue for the Colorado Springs and surrounding areas.
Many of the people who visit Colorado for recreational activities and to experience our natural resources are from far enough away that they stay in hotels and eat at restaurants. That has a financial impact for Colorado Springs.
Many people visit for the outdoor values we have in our community. It is so easy to disappear over to the Garden of the Gods, Red Rock Canyon or North Cheyenne Cañon and be right outside of town within 10 minutes. Yet it feels like you’re 100 miles away from the city. You can work downtown and take your mountain bike for a good half-hour ride at lunch.
The Springs will be a special destination for thousands of out-of-town guests this summer bringing an even greater financial impact due to much anticipated events.
The Rocky Mountain State Games will be hosted in late July by the Colorado Springs Sports Corp. for the 16th year. The event has grown steadily and attracted a record 10,314 participants and more than 15,000 spectators in 2016.
The second event, the inaugural Colorado Classic, is set for August. A variety of fun events surround the professional cyclists’ Aug. 10 stage race — the kickoff leg of the Classic — with the start and finish line at the same spot in downtown Colorado Springs. Plus, NBC Sports will televise the event, providing an even bigger economic boost, officials say.
Obviously, summer outdoor recreation in the Pikes Peak region means income — whether it involves pro athletes or amateurs. And that’s perfect for a community now branding itself as Olympic City USA.
Rocky Mountain State GamesCompetitors have increased from 2,016 in 2002 to more than 10,000 the past three years. Osborne and his team figure more than 60 percent of those participants and their families stay in a local hotel during the State Games.
“We’ve got more than 25,000 people involved, counting spectators, and they’re spending money and staying all over town,” he said. “They’re competing at 40 different venues, all the way from the Air Force Academy down to Fort Carson. Many are spending multiple nights in town and eating out, so it’s a big economic driver.”
The State Games attract competitors who vary in age from senior citizens to grade-schoolers, so the event often becomes a family vacation if mom and dad are traveling to watch their children participate.
“The beauty of the State Games is it’s an Olympic-style event for all ages and skill levels,” Osborne said. “It’s a perfect fit for our city — Olympic City USA. It’s part of the DNA of our community. And it’s gotten so big, it now takes two different weekends because of the magnitude of the event.”
The Rocky Mountain State Games are scheduled July 21-23 and July 28-30.
Colorado Springs and the Sports Corp. hosted the State Games of America in 2005, 2007 and 2009.
Colorado ClassicThe pro cycling event is a new and improved version of USA Pro Challenge, the seven-stage bike race that drowned in financial losses after a five-year run ending in 2015. The Colorado Classic figures to build on what was good about its predecessor.
Fort Collins and Vail and Denver initially, vied for the honor of hosting the Classic’s first stage. Breckenridge will host Stage 2 while Denver will host stages 3 and 4.
The RPM Events Group, which owns the Classic, is introducing a new approach to bike racing by adding live music, festivals and ancillary events in the host towns.
Activities in the Springs kick off Aug. 8 when local cyclists get the opportunity to ride with the Trek-Segafredo team.
Aug. 9 will feature a press conference and VIP reception and gala, along with team introductions — a rarity — at The Broadmoor hotel.
At 10 a.m. Aug. 10, 72 women will race 120 miles — starting and finishing in front of the U.S. Olympic Committee building in downtown Colorado Springs.
A community mile run — there are divisions for open runners, high school and middle school — starts after the women’s race concludes.
The men’s race, about 350 miles for 96 cyclists, starts at 1:15 p.m. and ends about 4:45 p.m.
Awards ceremonies for the Classic and community mile will follow on Tejon Street, where there will be a live DJ, vendors for running and cycling and music and a kids’ zone. The festival lasts until 10 p.m.
NBC will be covering the events. Stage 1 will feature 90 minutes of live coverage, including helicopter shots of Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak, as well as downtown.
NBC Gold will webcast internationally with an expected audience of 50 to 60 million for that, making it Colorado Springs’ biggest international event. An indirect economic impact would grow even more as people see the Springs on TV or on the webcast and want to come here