City lauds growth in sports tourism, impact on local economy
BULLHEAD CITY — Sports tourism is scoring goals for Bullhead City.
“Bullhead City has positioned itself as a national destination for sports tourism,” said Bullhead City Manager Toby Cotter. “Sports tourism is a great and growing segment of our tourism economy in addition to our robust winter visitors and summer tourists.”
In the past year, the city has hosted 26 softball tournaments, including four for senior citizens, 13 for adults and nine for girls/youth; five soccer tournaments with more than 300 teams participating; eight youth baseball tournaments; a basketball camp and high school boys basketball tournament; and two open pickleball tournaments.
Private promoters are among the growing number of tournament organizers taking advantage of city amenities.
“The location is great,” said Todd Mitchell, AFA Slow Pitch Las Vegas director. “The fields were in good condition. The city was great to work with for us as an association and we’ve already been there more than once for that reason.”
Joining youth and adult sports tournament groups for soccer, baseball, softball and basketball such as Revolution FC, Senior Softball USA, Empire Sports, Elite Development, AFA Slow Pitch, offers tournaments for adults ages 18 and older.
“One of our directors runs most of her tournaments outside of Las Vegas,” Mitchell said. “She looks for locations where we can draw in teams that don’t normally play in Las Vegas. Bullhead City draws from Arizona and California. We’ve run two tournaments in Bullhead this year and we’ll be doing more in the future.”
The association is hosting tournaments this weekend at Rotary and Ken Fovargue parks.
“This fall alone, hundreds of teams will bring millions of dollars into the local economy, supporting hotels, restaurants, gas stations and retail outlets,” Cotter said.
In October, city fields will host American Softball Academy Showcase, U.S. Soccer Coaches Clinic, U.S. Soccer Players Clinic for youth, Prep Hoops AZ Showcase for high school players, a pickleball tournament for cancer awareness and Prep Hoops Showcase for fourth through eighth grade.
November tournaments and events include senior softball, youth softball, youth baseball, two 5K runs, youth football, girls fast-pitch softball and AYSO soccer finals. December will see Whittier Youth Football, Yuma Girls E-1 Fast Pitch, EDP Elite Youth Soccer and Empire Sporting Events youth baseball.
In 2010, with the economy at its lowest point in city history, city council members committed to sports tourism as a way to seek long-term diversity in the tourism segment of the economy, Cotter said.
“The expansion of facilities brings many teams, but also provides some wonderful facilities to our local athletes,” Cotter said. “The city takes great pride in the fact that these facilities are also open and free to the general community when not in use by organized leagues.”
Cotter said while sports tourism remains one of the fastest growing segments of the local tourism economy, he is committed to the underlying fundamentals of the entire economics of the city. He said construction trades, retail and tourism always have been at the core of the local economy, but with the addition of Dot Foods, Cotter said he believes other distribution and small manufacturing companies will follow.