GRAND JUNCTION It's a tradition that has prospered in the Grand Valley and has financially benefited local businesses. The Junior College World Series has been a part of the Grand Junction community since the 1960's and people from all over the country come to watch the games.
"It's become a baseball heaven that really no body knows about," JUCO Chair Jamie Hamilton said.
Grand Junction is overflowing with opportunities for baseball fans, but JUCO is one that has become intertwined with the community's history.
Jamie Hamilton has been on the leadership side of the tournament for 28 years and now he works as chairman with 83 volunteers.
"Our whole goal, besides selling some tickets, is to have people in the stands so these students can have 8 to 10 thousand people and create a memory to take back to wherever they go," Hamilton said.
Last year Suplizio Field saw 119 thousand JUCO fans and this year staff is expecting to see about the same. Since it's renovation a couple of years ago Suplizio Field has become an ideal spot for JUCO. The stadium's new setup and seating allows the committee to more easily track the number of guests.
"You could argue that this would be a 40 million dollar facility anywhere else," Hamilton said. "We have just done it by trade outs and brick and mortar over the last 50 years, which is pretty cool."
In an economic impact study done through the Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce about five years ago, the JUCO committee found the tournament had a $3.5 million impact on the community. They predict at this point it's closer to $4 million.
Local Businesses have partnered with the event, doing sponsorships, advertising and even on-site sales. Famous Dave's brought their barbeque right to the stands.
"We couldn't ask for a better location really," Chris Feltus from Famous Dave's said. "There's a lot of people coming through the gates and they're seeing that we're here. It's a great thing."
A number of other businesses are involved in aspects outside of the ball park. CPC Solutions prints and sells all of the programs.
"I think this community owns JUCO, and it's one of those good four letter words," Hamilton said.
So far JUCO has brought in $236 thousand in sponsorships, $20 thousand on first day walk-up ticket sales and $93 thousand on pre-tournament sales. They are expecting to bring in about $450 thousand total.