Little leagues are big business in Vail Valley |

Little leagues are big business in Vail Valley

Special to the DailyThe Vail Valley Soccer Club's Vail Cup tournament will attract as many as 100 teams to the valley in early October. This is the 11th Vail Cup, and the tournament's direct economic impact reaches the millions of dollars. This is Jack Skidmore, with the Vail Valley Soccer Club.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado – Youth sports tournaments like the Vail Valley Soccer Club’s 100-team Vail Cup tournament are an economic kick in the grass.

The Vail Cup is one of the area’s largest, fielding more than 100 teams, occupying fields from East Vail to Edwards in early October, says Kerry Skidmore with the VVSC.

Teams will come from all over Colorado to compete, with players ranging in age from 9-18 years old.

And they’re still looking for a few sponsors, Skidmore says. What’s in it for you?

In their wake those teams and their families will leave lots and lots of money, along with all the love and good karma.

How much money a youth sports tournament leaves behind depends on the number of days it lasts and the number of teams involved.

When teams come from out of town for a three-day basketball tournament, they’ll spend about $2,500 for per team, says Steve Russell, director of the Western Eagle County Metropolitan Recreation District.

Baseball families spend about the same.

Last winter, WECMRD ran a one-day hockey tournament. The six teams spent between $16,000 and $25,000 in that one day.

“It’s all based on how many teams are coming in. Multiply that by the number of teams and it will get you close to the numbers,” Russell said.

The Vail Valley Soccer Club’s 100-team Vail Cup would be … a bunch of money.

Soccer teams run at least 15 players, usually more, with parents and siblings who all need to be sheltered and fed, Russell said. That means hotels and restaurants and grocery stores. Throw in a T-shirt or two and …

“You could get into the millions for a tournament that size,” Russell said.

WECMRD is looking at baseball tournaments sponsored by Major League Baseball, which can attract between 150 and 200 youth league baseball teams.

“For a tournament that size, they say the direct spending is $2.5 million to $3 million. That’s not multiplying. That’s just spending,” Russell said.

Triple Crown Sports, another nationwide organization that holds baseball tournaments around the country, is also eying the Eagle River Valley.

The Vail Valley Partnership is aggressively courting the sports tourism market.

Locals teams also take their show and their money on the road.

The Vail Valley Soccer Club, for example, travels constantly.

When they’re not in a tournament, they’re traveling for Colorado Youth Soccer League games in Denver, Grand Junction, Steamboat Springs, Pueblo and Laramie, Wyo., among other places.

Next weekend, VVSC teams are in Denver on Saturday and Laramie, Wyoming on Sunday.

“These are dedicated families, to say the least,” Skidmore said.

The Vail Valley Soccer Club works with The Youth Foundation to raise money for scholarships. As many as 30 percent of their players get some sort of help paying the fees, Skidmore said.

Kids sell coffee, work with the Youth Conservation Corps and do about anything else they can think of to raise a few dollars.

Not only do they work at community service, they work at soccer. Vail Valley Soccer Club players started practice two weeks ago. They’ll play most of the year and they win most of the time. One of the last spring tournaments saw them in Grand Junction, where every VVSC team that entered won its division.

“With WECMRD’s new indoor facility in Edwards, they can train year round. That will be a great help,” Skidmore said.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or

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