Earlier this week, SportsTravel magazine and Northstar Meetings Group hosted the seventh annual SportsTravel Road Trip in Colorado Springs. Sponsored by our friends at Visit Louisville, the Road Trip brings together many of the National Governing Bodies in Colorado Springs for a day of programing and discussion around Olympic Sport. It is always a good time to catch up with friends over a drink in the evening, and the programming during the day always is solid.
Our outing during the gathering was a private tour of the yet-to-be-opened Olympic Museum in downtown Colorado Springs. Opening in a few months, I can confirm it will be an amazing space speaking to the history of the United States in the Olympic Games. A real treat for us to take this VIP tour.
This year didn’t disappoint, but all seemed overshadowed by the COVID-19 issue. It was clear that this would probably be one of the last in-person conferences that we would have for a while. It did spark some good debate as we were just getting some information about social distancing plans to come. The content was focused on sponsorship and best practices for sports events, but much of the “water cooler” talk was how most sport organizations were starting to prepare for a shutdown.
It will be interesting to see how all of this sorts itself out over the next few months—we all fear that this situation will have quite an impact on sports events for the spring and summer.
Thanks toeditor and publisher of
The final stop on my southwestern trip was the 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo mountain bike race just north of Tucson, AZ. This is an Epic Rides event that has been going on for 19 years. Essentially they build a small city in the middle of the Sonoran Desert and race bikes for a weekend. 2500 racers, along with families and friends come by to check it out. It is quite a party.
A solid expo, food trucks, and industry partners all set up and enjoy what many consider the kick-off to the mountain bike season in February. I was there to set up a booth to advertise for the Pikes Peak APEX, an event we are developing and delivering for our client, PPORA. It was fun to join in and be a part of the party. I handed out a few hundred discount coupons to the event as well as spoke to many folks to get some ideas about why they loved 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo. Hats off to Epic Rides for a heck of an event—it was great to see a solid bike race linked up with such a great party!
Surprise, AZ is located just on the northwest side of Phoenix and February is a great time to visit. Spring Training is just getting started and Surprise hosts a couple of MLB teams as they get ready for the season.
Surprise has been growing very quickly and has some fantastic terrain in the area for outdoor activity. The White Tank Mountains are just a few miles directly west of the city and is a magnet for hiking and mountain biking. There are a few organized events in that space, but we were able to talk to the city a bit more about how we can link their downtown to activity in that open space. We had some great ideas that we presented to the Mayor, City Councilmen, and the sports director and we hope that we are able to execute some of them. The city is eager to diversify in the sports tourism space and they have all the assets to make that happen.
Side note—Surprise is home to one of the best taco places on earth. Who knew? Next time you are in the Surprise area, check out La Bamba Mexican Grill.
Albuquerque was the first stop on my road trip to the southwest, and I was able to drop in and visit my friends at the Albuquerque Sports Commission.
They were setting up for the Indoor Track National Championships inside the Albuquerque Convention Center so I was able to see that setup. Quite the show with the banked, indoor running track and the seating for the fans—good stuff! This is an event that they have held there for many years and brings a good many people into the city.
They are starting to discuss hosting more endurance sport events in the fantastic open spaces that Albuquerque is blessed with, so we had a great conversation about what we are doing in Colorado Springs with the Pikes Peak APEX. There was a realization after hosting the Senior Games that outdoor events were a great fit for the area and it was good to be able to sit down and brainstorm some ideas. Looking forward to getting back to Albuquerque and talking more with the Parks Department and other government agencies!