Lacrosse tourney scores with Vail locals
EAGLE COUNTY – Forget the summer solstice – the real arrival of summer at the Gashouse restaurant in Edwards is when the Vail Lacrosse Shootout players hit the valley.
“It’s just a great boost for Edwards, and the valley in general,” Gashouse owner Andy Guy said. I’d guess we’ve had between 70 and 100 players a day in this week.”
The experience at the Gashouse isn’t unique. Guy said he can look out the restaurant’s windows and see teams piling into other restaurants in Edwards, from the Smiling Moose to Woody’s.
The Vail Lacrosse Shootout has been a mainstay of Vail’s summer business for nearly 40 years. This year, the tournament is bringing about 2,000 players and who knows how many family members and well-wishers. It’s a big boost to the local economy, and a great kickoff to Fourth of July celebrations around the valley.
It’s also a great example of the effect tournaments can have during the valley’s shoulder seasons. And, while Memorial Day is the accepted start of the summer season in most of the country, things are a little different in the Vail Valley.
“We really don’t kick off the summer until the Fourth of July,” Manor Vail General Manager Bob McCleary said. “When you figure that kids are going back to school in mid-August, that’s a pretty short window.”
That’s why “shoulder season” events such as the Lacrosse Shootout are so important, and why people in the local group business business are always on the lookout for new events.
The Vail Valley Partnership has a team dedicated to nothing but “participatory” events, and McCleary said Manor Vail has a new director of sales who understands the importance of those shoulder season groups.
Manor Vail is hosting “three or four” teams, McCleary said. That doesn’t sound like much until you figure that each team brings 20 or 30 players, along with family members, significant others and friends. Then three or four teams is a good-sized booking for one lodge.
“We cater to families,” McCleary said. “We’ll have people in the restaurant and the bar, or out at the pool. It’s a great thing to have.”
The Lacrosse Shootout is a week-long event, too, which puts people in town for several days at a time. That’s more than the usual three- or four-day tournament.
And Sweet Basil owner Matt Morgan said all tournaments aren’t created equal.
“A youth soccer tournament may not be as good for us as other events,” Morgan said. “But it fills up the town at times we need people in town.”
Lots of families in town often means people are looking for lower-priced meals. That’s why the local Subway restaurants in Edwards, Avon and Vail are putting on extra staff and ordering more food during the shootout.
“The store in West Vail feels a lot of the impact because you can see it from the highway,” said Kristin Comerford, who handles the marketing for her family’s Subway stores in the upper valley.
But while the Comerfords have prepared for a natural influx of players and families, they’re also out actively seeking Shootout business. Comerford said the company has put coupons in players’ welcome bags, and has put coupons on windshields at the tournament venues.
Guy said the Gashouse sells a lot of burgers during Shootout week. But, he added, they sell some full-priced adult meals, too.
“We had one party who sent the kids for pizza at Marko’s while they had adult meals here,” Guy said. “That worked out well for them.”
Even people in other businesses welcome the energy that big groups of people bring.
Sharon and Paul Treacy own KidSport in Vail Village. Foot traffic has been hard to come by this year thanks to road work on Meadow Drive, but Sharon Treacy said when the foot traffic is there, some of those people will come into the store.
“We love all the events,” she said. “People walking by increases your business.”
At the Vail International Gallery, co-owner Marc LeVarn acknowledged that his shop doesn’t see much benefit from events like the Shootout – at least not at the cash register.
“I love the fact that we get a lot of people in town – I’m completely for it,” LeVarn said. “We do get families in sometimes, and I love to be able to educate and show the kids fine art by living masters. You just wouldn’t find that someplace else.”
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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