Big-league soccer teams coming to Vail
January 14, 2016
What’s the Bundesliga?
• It’s the top pro soccer league in Germany.
• The league is made up of 18 teams.
• Two teams, Mainz 05 and Borussia Moenchengladbach, are coming to Vail this weekend to scout facilities.
• Teams are publicly owned — like the NFL’s Green Bay Packers.
• Germany currently holds the World Cup title.
VAIL — We're used to visits from some of the world's top athletes. This summer, some of the best soccer players in world will hold their training camps — and youth events — in the Vail Valley.
Brothers Justin and Jason Rose are leading an effort to bring two teams from Germany's Bundesliga, one of the world's top professional soccer leagues, to Colorado. The brothers are calling the event the Funding Ones Freedom Colorado Cup. Teams will come in July to train in the Vail Valley and Colorado Springs. The teams will be in the state for about 10 days of training, as well as exhibition games with a pair of Mexican teams. Those games will be held at the U.S. Air Force Academy and at Sports Authority Field in Denver.
Representatives from those teams — Mainz 05 and Borussia Moenchengladbach — are in Vail this weekend to get a look at the available facilities. One of those teams will end up in Vail, the other in Colorado Springs. Besides spreading out the activities, there's also the fact that the Vail Valley can only accommodate one team. There's only one competition-sized, natural-turf field in the valley, and it's in Eagle-Vail.
Besides the training camps, the teams will hold youth clinics, with players helping coach kids from Vail Valley Soccer Club teams.
Justin Rose has spent the last several years in Germany working with the Bundesliga — that country's rough equivalent of our National Football League — but he and Jason are Colorado natives, having grown up in Littleton.
As youths, the Rose brothers would often come to Vail for three-on-three soccer tournaments, lacrosse events and other activities. That's why they're excited to return to the valley with some of the world's top soccer players.
And, given that many fans follow specific players, Justin Rose said it's possible some of those fans may come to Vail for a bit of off-the-pitch experience. For some, the Colorado Cup events could be their first experience with this state.
But the Roses also hope that local players catch the enthusiasm for the athletes who come to Vail in July.
"It can affect a kid's life," Rose said.
SOCCER CATCHING ON
If the training camp events work as planned, it will be part of the worldwide expansion of the league. The league's games are broadcast in more than 200 countries, and its attendance is best in the world. In the United States, it is catching on, Rose said. Still, this is something of an experiment.
The Vail Valley Partnership's group sales division helped bring the Roses to Vail. Partnership CEO Chris Romer said this visit fits perfectly with things the valley already does.
"The idea of a professional team coming here to train isn't a new thing," Romer said, noting that National Hockey League teams have been known to come to the valley for high-elevation training.
But, Romer added, bringing a team from outside the U.S. presents an interesting opportunity — especially given the youth-involvement piece of the visit.
Still, just how many fans will travel to see their favorite teams and players remains to be seen.
"It's not going to be thousands of people — it's a very targeted audience," said Sybill Navas, town of Vail special events coordinator. "But it's a desirable guest, and it will bring attention to our new venues."
There are people in town who are already excited.
Stefan Schmid, the general manager of the Sonnenalp Hotel in Vail, is a native of Bavaria. His team is Bayern Munich. Still, Schmid said, it's going to be fun having teams from his favorite sports league in town.
On the other hand, Schmid said, the Sonnenalp — one of the host hotels —is familiar with hosting elite athletes, from national ski teams to people having surgery at Vail's Steadman Clinic.
"But it will be great for us," Schmid said. "I'm sure it will be picked up by some media (in Germany), and it's good for Vail that some celebrities will be here."
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, email@example.com or @scottnmiller.