Vail Cup lights up local economy
VAIL – We love it when company comes to visit, and this weekend’s Vail Cup soccer tournament is bringing a bunch of company.
Youth sports events pour money into the local economy, and this weekend’s 12th annual Vail Cup comes at a time of year when the local economy needs it.
The tournament will attract 1,600 players on 100 teams. They’ll all be accompanied by parents, siblings and the occasional family pet.
Last year, Vail Cup participants booked 900 hotel rooms for Friday and Saturday nights. That’s $98,000 just in lodging, says Shannon Moller, the Vail Valley Soccer Club’s executive director.
“Most people come with families. I have three kids in soccer and when one of them has a tournament, we all go,” Moller said.
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While they’re here, they’ll buy food, fuel, souvenirs and other stuff. Add it up and the Vail Cup pours around $500,000 into the local economy in just that weekend. The Vail Valley Soccer Club surveys restaurants and other businesses to come up with those numbers, Moller said.
Roll out the red carpet for this weekend’s company, says Chris Romer with the Vail Valley Partnership.
“It’s perfect to have them this time of year,” Romer said. “Events like the Vail Cup and other events are huge this time of year because there are not a lot of demand generators.”
The hope is that they’ll have a good experience and visit again during the peak seasons. It helps that it’s always the first weekend in October, the peak of the fall foliage season, Moller said.
“It’s a beautiful drive on the way in, and that helps,” Moller said. “The valley really draws them in.”
Recruiting teams to come to Vail is surprisingly easy, Moller said.
“It’s a tournament everyone wants to go to,” Moller said.
The Vail Cup goes on the Colorado Youth Soccer association website, and people let their fingers do the walking.
The Colorado Youth Soccer Association limited this year’s Vail Cup tournament to 100 teams – the Vail Cup attracted 115 teams last year. The Vail Valley Soccer Club turned away 20 teams for this year’s Vail Cup.
Then there are referees. Put 100 teams and 1,600 players in one location, and someone has to keep the peace. In soccer, that’s the referee.
The Vail Valley Soccer Club works with local lodging companies to put the referees up free of charge. Each ref gets a gift/goodie bag, and is paid to call games.
Games take place in Ford Park, Freedom Park, Eagle-Vail, Avon and on the turf at Battle Mountain High School.
Hundreds of volunteers have been recruited to help make the tournament run smoothly. The Vail Valley Soccer Club’s emails have been flying around for weeks.
The National Association of Sports Commissions (NASC) says American families spent an estimated $7 billion traveling with their children to youth sports tournaments last year.
That’s about 10 percent of the national leisure travel industry. It has been growing at 4 percent annually and is one of the only growth areas in the slumping economy.
Families are spending much of their leisure time traveling with sports teams, even replacing traditional family vacations with trips surrounding their children’s sports teams, the NASC says.
A University of Minnesota study found that families traveling with their kids’ youth sports teams see it as part of their family routine.
“We couldn’t pull this huge event off without support from many organizations including the school district, WECMRD, and the Vail Rec District,” Moller said. “We are excited for the games to begin. … We are grateful to everyone for their support, and hope local businesses benefit in return for all the people we are bringing to town during a normally quiet weekend.”
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.