by Tim Kanavel, Program Manager, Pinal County Economic Development
I am writing this while out at the 2019 FAI World Cup of Formation and Artistic Skydiving in Eloy. It’s amazing that Skydive Arizona was able to land such an event. This is basically the Super Bowl of skydiving.
What makes this event so interesting is the athletes involved. There are 16 countries with more than 300 skydivers, coaches, support staff and officials here in our corner of the world to find out who is the best of the best when it comes to skydiving. These are international athletes experiencing what Pinal County and Southern Arizona have to offer.
That means a lot of money and exposure for many businesses in this area.
Hotel rooms are booked, food is eaten and, for Skydive Arizona, a lot of aviation fuel is being sold to power the planes taking these skydivers to 10,000 feet and above.
I was talking with Pinal County Board of Supervisors Vice-Chairman, Steve Miller after the opening ceremonies. Needless to say he was impressed about the turnout of athletes and spectators. But he said to me: “We need more of these type of events in Pinal County.”
I understand where he is coming from. We may not be able to ever score the Super Bowl or the World Series in Pinal County, but we sure as heck can land these type of events for other sports.
Casa Grande hosts international soccer players coming here to better their skills. Apache Junction hosts a marathon in the Superstitions, there is a 12-mile burro race in Superior and a 24-hour mountain bike endurance event near Oracle.
In the future we will see international auto racing in Casa Grande at Attesa. But why stop there?
Looking at a map of Pinal County, I don’t see why we couldn’t have our own “Tour de France” type of event across the region. The terrain is not easy by any means. The Catalina Mountains could be a heck of a climb for riders. The Pinal Pioneer Parkway would be a good flat sprint for riders, and the climb from Superior to Oracle would be a challenge for any long-distance rider.
We could even hold an ultra-marathon race in the County. Moab, Utah holds a 238-mile race each year. I could easily see the County hosting a similar type of race using the Arizona Trail or the upcoming CAP Canal trail.
My point is that we should not settle for one big event and leave it at that. We have the outdoor space, and we should be using it even more. All it takes is some enterprising minds out there and the will to take the chance and the next thing you know another big event comes to Pinal County.
One of our mottos for Pinal County is that we are a “get off your couch” place to live. I would encourage anyone who has ideas for events like I mentioned, and ones I didn’t even mention, to take a chance. Pinal County is willing to listen. Send any ideas you’ve got to email@example.com