Boise, Idaho, Swings for More Sporting Events

To understand the benefits of Boise, Idaho, as a host for sporting events, consider the case of the National Club Baseball Association’s Northern Pacific Regional Tournament. Originally played in La Grande, Oregon, the event moved to Missoula, Montana, for two years. But a scheduling conflict this year may turn out to be a blessing in disguise for NCBA. “We had strong local support from Missoula and it has a great downtown,” says Norm Doyle, NCBA’s Northern Pacific regional director. “But it’s not conveniently located for most of the teams in the region.” Boise, connected to 20 cities through direct flights, presented itself as a perfect solution for an event drawing teams from Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Couple Boise’s convenient location with Minor League Baseball’s Hawks’ Memorial Stadium and you see why Doyle expects this year’s tournament, May 13-15, to be a home run. Memorial Stadium, the host venue, should be a treat for the four competing teams to play on for three days, says Doyle. Often, NCBA squads—comprised of college students who don’t have the opportunity or time to play varsity sports—are forced to use less-than-stellar fields. That’s because the teams don’t have the financial backing of major university athletics. In fact, the athletes pay their way to travel. From Boise’s point of view, the college baseball tournament presents a great showcase for the city, says Alena Sheire, sports sales manager at Boise CVB. Not only is a new event on the calendar, but it’s also one Sheire says could serve as an inspiration for the city’s youth. “Little kids can see what they can achieve in sports” by attending, she says. To help the cause, there will be a day when Little League players can get in for free to watch the games. Buoyed by a rising technology sector, Boise is growing rapidly. As the restaurants and downtown have increased their vibrancy, there too has been a demand for more events, Sheire reports. US Youth Soccer Far West Tournament, returning this year after last year’s success, is among the biggest family-friendly sporting events Boise hosts. It is expected to generate 15,000 room nights in June, about two-thirds of the room nights already on the books for 2016. There will be 15 tournaments in town this year, up from 13 in 2015. Sheire hopes to eventually hit 20, which seems possible with venues like the Hawks’ stadium, the 57-acre Willow Lane Athletic Complex, Simplot Sports Complex (home of 20 soccer fields) and the 5,400-seat CenturyLink Arena (attached to The Grove Hotel), her goal seems doable. Doyle has already expressed interest in a long-term relationship with his NCBA regional tournament. He also hopes to bring the organization’s national championship, being held this year in Paducah, Kentucky, out west.