Sports tourism

The American Youth Soccer Organization Region 397 Colorado River Invitational Tournament was one of two Bullhead City events recognized as a “Champion of Economic Impact to Sports Tourism” by Sports Destination Management trade magazine. The Bullhead City-Laughlin Senior Games was the other event recognized.

BULLHEAD CITY — Two local sporting events were recognized as being “Champions of Economic Impact to Sports Tourism,” according to Sports Destination Management, a trade publication for sports event planners and tournament directors.

This trade publisher reported that the more than 40 events it has recognized “are responsible for contributing more than $1 billion to the national economy over the past year.”  

The American Youth Soccer Organization Region 397 Colorado River Invitational Tournament brought $3 million in related spending to the community. The Bullhead City-Laughlin Senior Games resulted in more $2.6 million spent in the community.

The two events were part of an awards classification named “Small Market Champions.” Large- and medium-sized locations, as well as events that exemplified “Innovations in Sports Tourism,” also received awards from Sports Destination Management.

City Manager Toby Cotter said Tuesday the city has the facilities and infrastructure needed to host large-scale tournaments. 

“Community businesses benefit greatly from these special events when athletes eat, shop and stay at local hotels,” Cotter said.

Such recognition by this national publication has provided the city a source of pride. Bullhead City government’s goal of having at least one sports tournament in the city every weekend for a year was fulfilled as of January. 

Dave Heath, the city’s Parks and Recreation superintendent, said the Senior Games quickly have grown in popularity. The Senior Games are organized by the city while the AYSO 397 tournament is handled by its people on city playfields.  

Heath noted that the local Senior Games received a higher number of registrations than the Arizona Senior Olympic Games — impressive because the Bullhead City-Laughlin event will be in only its fourth year in 2020.

It’s also unique because sports are played in various locations in Arizona and Nevada. 

The upcoming 2020 event is being held from Jan. 12-19. It will debut volleyball, power walking and offer a skeet-shooting competition, he said.

Sports already on the list include golf, softball, bowling, cornhole, swimming, horseshoes, pickleball, basketball, powerlifting and track and field.  

Heath said that he hopes the turnout again will increase by 25%, as was the case between 2018 and 2019. For details about the Senior Games, go to

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