GLENWOOD SPRINGS — As the world prepares for the Men’s World Cup Soccer tournament in Brazil this summer, Glenwood Springs is gearing up to become a regional center of the soccer universe.
Recently, the city’s Tourism Promotion Board awarded $34,000 to longtime local soccer enthusiast, event organizer and coach Steve White to put together a series of soccer tournaments geared toward upper youth and adult players.
“We have one of the best soccer facilities with probably the greatest view from a center circle in the world at Gates Soccer Park,” White said of the soccer complex located in Spring Valley on the Colorado Mountain College campus, with its awe-inspiring views of Mount Sopris and the Elk Range.
“It’s time to start marketing it, and getting the community involved in promoting it,” he said.
The first of five Colorado Mountain Soccer Tournament Series events, the Feb. 14-16 Storm King Futsal indoor 5-on-5 tournament for coed U14, U18 and adult teams, will serve to build enthusiasm for the upcoming outdoor season at Gates, he said.
The indoor tournament will take place at the Glenwood Springs Community Center and the nearby Glenwood Middle School gymnasiums.
“While the number of teams we can accommodate is limited, the location is perfect for a fun and competitive Futsal experience,” White said.
Pool play will begin on Valentine’s Day, Friday, Feb. 14, at the Community Center, and continue on Saturday at both venues.
Currently, Gates is home to two major youth tournaments, the Glenwood Springs Soccer Club’s Memorial Day weekend tournament for youth teams up to U14, and the Emily Johnson Play-it-Forward 3-on-3 tournament in June.
Beyond that, the fields are relatively unused except for the regular spring and fall youth league seasons, said White, who founded the local youth soccer club and now coaches the Glenwood Springs High School girls and boys soccer teams.
Last July, he organized an exhibition game between the Colorado Rapids Women’s team and a local women’s team at Gates. That got him thinking that it was time to make more use of the facility.
“While hosting tournaments is not entirely a new idea, it is a new beginning with new community energy and support,” said White, who previously directed the Colorado Soccer Association’s Colorado Mountain Cup.
The adult tournament, which took place at fields in Glenwood Springs and Carbondale, drew college club teams from a five-state area.
By focusing more on the older age groups and scheduling events on nonholiday weekends over the summer and during the shoulder seasons, White said the tournament series will benefit local lodges, restaurants and outdoor recreation businesses.
Four outdoor, full-size field tournaments will feature the Mount Sopris Cup for adult men’s and women’s teams on May 16-18, the Red Mountain Coed Tournament for amateur adult coed teams on July 18-20, the Sunlight Peak College Invitational for collegiate teams on Sept. 5-7, and the return of the Colorado Mountain Cup for amateur adult teams from a five-state area on Oct. 10-12.
All totaled, the five separate events can be expected to draw close to 8,000 people to the Glenwood Springs area, potentially contributing more than $1 million to the local economy, White predicted in his recent presentation to the Tourism Board.
“Bringing more sporting events into Glenwood Springs is one of the best ways to fill our rooms and market ourselves better,” said Lisa Langer, vice president of tourism marketing for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.
The chamber is contracted to work with the Glenwood Springs City Council-appointed Tourism Board to allocate a portion of the city’s accommodations tax revenues to tourism-related events.
“As an impact to the community, if you think about a two- or three-day tournament and the average amount of money a visitor spends per day, it is huge,” Langer said. “This is a great partnership, and a great way to handle this type of event.”
White said a website will be up soon to promote the series. In the meantime, visit GotSoccer.com and click on the tournament directory to register for the Feb. 14-16 indoor tournament.
Also, check out the Colorado Mountain Soccer Tournament Series Facebook page for information. White can also be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.