by Ralph Routon
Down in Pueblo, and up north in Fort Collins, local businesses will be enjoying a mini-boon the next four days, thanks to the Colorado High School Activities Association.
We're talking about the state high school basketball tournaments. Class 5A and 4A teams converge on Denver, which makes sense because it's just a short drive for so many teams and their followers.
For the lower classifications, though, it's a much-anticipated ROAD TRIP, one of the highlights of the school year for those lucky (or good enough) to qualify.
Class 3A's top 16 teams, eight girls and eight boys, are in Fort Collins, with some having arrived Wednesday night. All of those teams are guaranteed at least two games, so they're staying as long as possible.
Meanwhile, the 2A and 1A boys and girls, totaling 32 teams, have converged on Pueblo for their tournaments. They're filling the motels, restaurants and even the retail stores.
If something sounds familiar about those tournaments, it should. For years, Colorado Springs hosted either or both of those groups, utilizing facilities from the Colorado Springs World Arena and Air Force Academy to the Olympic Training Center.
The nice thing about those tournaments is that they don't depend on local spectators to make it or not. The teams bring their fans, more and more from schools and small towns that last into the semifinals and finals on the weekend.
I've heard many anecdotes in past years of buses and/or convoys of kids and their families going to the local malls between games and buying all kinds of clothes, because it's their best chance to go shopping in a big city. And of course, it goes without saying how much the players and fans feel inspired by the Air Force Academy and the OTC.
A story in today's Pueblo Chieftain pegs the economic impact there at $3 million to $3.5 million, which you can read here. Meanwhile, Fort Collins officials are estimating the 3A events will produce about $1 million in economic benefit.
During a slow time for tourism and before the spring-break time arrives, Colorado Springs would be smart to revisit hosting some of those tournaments.