If you’ve had trouble booking a hotel room or going to a restaurant with a front range in recent days, blame fast-pitch softball.
This week, more than 18,000 girls, their coaches and families are in the arena for the annual Colorado 4th of July fast-pitch softball tournament.
It is one of the biggest tournaments in the country and one of the biggest stages for those hoping to earn a college scholarship. Triple Crown Sports tournament director Stephanie Claviter said games are played on diamonds in most cities from Colorado Springs to Fort Collins and in between, and visiting teams will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The tournament has grown in popularity as the game of softball on college campuses has increased and its national exposure on ESPN has increased, Kleviter said. This year, the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City averaged just over 1 million viewers per broadcast, and the semifinals set an attendance record with nearly 13,000 fans at the stadium.
First and foremost, the Colorado 4th of July Tournament is a college recruiting event.
“They put so much pressure on themselves when they come here,” Kleviter said of the players. “The priority for them to get out of here is a chance to make their dreams come true.”
Estrada, 15, and her mother, Casey Estrada, traveled from Lake Elsinore, California, to Colorado, to play ball with their travel team, The Lady Dukes. Khila wants to play college softball.
“This is probably the biggest tournament for college scouts,” said Cassi Estrada. “We have begun to be seen.”
This year, coaches from 500 universities are in town to watch the games run through Sunday, starting June 24. The tournament also hosts games for American-born softball players who qualify to play on Olympic teams for the countries where their parents are born, as well as an All-Star Game in which women’s college Contains the best players from softball and various other softball-related clinics. and activities.
The games consume 150 fields in 40 ballparks in Colorado Springs, Denver, Aurora, Arvada, Westminster, Loveland, Fort Collins and Greeley. Players, families and coaches use about 10,000 hotel rooms per night during tournament week, Kleviter said.
The tournament is set so that each team has a day off to explore Colorado and is open most nights so players and their families can hold a Colorado Rockies game or host a team dinner. She said that on days she doesn’t play, girls’ teams go hiking or whitewater rafting in the mountains.
When representatives of Triple Crown Sports talk with local merchants about the impact of the tournament, they hear about shops selling water and Gatorade. Kleviter said parents go to Walmart, Target and grocery stores to buy chairs, coolers and tents, often leaving those things behind when tournaments are over.
“They can’t keep water on the shelves,” she said.
Tour Aurora, which promotes tourism in the city, estimates that the 2022 tournament will generate more than $12.5 million in economic impact with players, coaches and their families, according to a study conducted by the tourism office.
For many families, the summer holidays are centered around tournaments. Teams submit bids to participate in the fall and spend the rest of the year raising funds to travel to and from the United States and Canada.
And much of it flies under the radar of the locals.
“Many people don’t even know about it,” Kleviter said. “All they know is that their hotel rooms are taken and their restaurants are full.”
On the day Duke didn’t play, the team went to Castle Rock to try out Epic Sky Trek’s four-story aerial trekking course, Cassie Estrada said. Players, coaches, parents, and siblings who traveled to Colorado for the tournament tried it.
The cost of a week-long trip to Estradas is at least $2,000. Estrada said this includes gas, more than eight nights in a hotel, food, souvenirs and other miscellaneous expenses.
“What it brings to your city — money, publicity, players — it’s a big deal,” she said. “It brings all.”