Putting Sports and Adventure in Their Place – A Beautiful Place

Town of Windsor, Colorado
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

Windsor, Colorado is a community with abundant natural assets and a warm, welcoming, hometown feel. It is a safe and friendly community that provides its residents with a vibrant quality of life its leaders have worked hard to preserve as it has grown.

And grown it has; between 2000 and 2020, Windsor’s population more than doubled, adding 23,000 during that time to reach over 41,000 residents. Last year, it was named Colorado’s biggest boom town. It is a good thing that the town can support this growth and has well-thought-through plans for the future—and even more exciting, these plans also involve an emerging economic sector that shows huge promise: sports tourism.

A competitive edge
It’s not just residents who are drawn to life on the Front Range. Lately, Windsor has become a mecca for sports fans, athletes, and adventure seekers alike who travel to Northern Colorado’s new premier destination for all things sports.

“There’s an exponential growth in the tourism and tournament side of things and it’s only just begun. We’ve only started to scratch the surface,” says Stacy Brown, Windsor’s Director of Economic Development.

Windsor’s location doesn’t hurt either, as Deputy Director of Parks, Recreation, and Culture Tara Fotsch points out. “We’re fortunate to be located right next to I-25 and just a quick hour north of Denver International Airport. Northern Colorado is perfectly placed close to surrounding states, making it a drivable option for many.”

Future Legends today
One of the town’s major draws is Future Legends, a premier multi-purpose sports complex that brings in two million people annually. Opened in 2023, the 118-acre complex has breathed vibrant life into the community and has garnered the attention of people from all over the region, the state, and beyond.

“Tourism has grown exponentially because of the sports park,” says Brown. “We were getting tournament-based activities through sports tourism, but the park has magnified our ability to grow in sports across the board.”

The expansive complex is home to 10 baseball diamonds, 12 soccer pitches, and 16 volleyball courts. It hosts a broad range of sports that cover all age demographics, including baseball, softball, soccer, volleyball (traditional and beach), lacrosse, flag football, basketball, pickleball, frisbee, and even Quidditch.

The attention-grabbing Dome, an imposing 96-feet-tall structure at the sports complex, spans four acres, making it the largest of its kind in the U.S. and the third largest in the world.

Future Legends’ 6,500-seat main stadium, TicketSmarter Stadium, is home to professional soccer teams Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC, which plays in the USL League, and the newly minted Northern Colorado Rain FC, a professional women’s soccer club playing in the USL women’s league, as well as the NoCo Owlz of the Pioneer League.

For many years, Northern Colorado strived to secure a professional sports team to call its own, and now it has gained three since Brown took on economic development in Windsor. She credits the relationship with Future Legends with helping to make it possible.

“Our partnership with Future Legends is so valuable because that allowed us to bring this professional team into a region that’s been trying to get one for over 25 years.”

Always the good host, the Future Legends complex also features a 64-room dormitory that offers convenience and proximity, as well as hotel offerings on site that are perfect for families, fans, and spectators. Visitors can also look forward to expanded retail, restaurant, and entertainment offerings soon.

There are no plans to stop there, however. Just down the way from Future Legends is Blue FCU Arena which is part of The Ranch Events Complex in neighboring Loveland. The span that runs between the two is currently being eyed for an entertainment and hospitality corridor. As Brown notes, “There are opportunities for more hotels, more restaurants, and potentially even more entertainment options. Having that facility right across the street from Windsor will greatly benefit our community as well.”

Lively outdoor life
In Windsor, there is a strong focus on offering complementary amenities that service the community year-round. While facilities like Future Legends offer indoor and outdoor space for organized sports, the town’s location and optimal climate keep the calendar full of outdoor adventure over all four seasons.

“Our average temperatures are not that conducive to having a ski hill there, but our developer Martin Lind and Water Valley have invested in this ski hill, so we have this whole other activity. You don’t have to drive a couple of hours to the mountains because you’ve got the experience right in your backyard,” says Brown.

The ski hill Brown is referring to is Hoedown Hill, a spectacular draw right in town that offers skiing, tubing, and terrain parks that are reconfigured weekly for snowboarders to hone their skills. In addition, Hoedown has the longest tubing hill in North America, so there are opportunities for all ages and skill levels to enjoy some winter fun.

In the warmer months, residents and visitors can enjoy the Eastman River Experience, a river-mile devoted to non-motorized water sports and play, including kayaks, canoes, and tubes. The experience is complete with amazing views of the Cache la Poudre River and Longs Peak, a river plaza, and so much more.

Phase one of the project, offering river access, was completed in 2021, and Phase two is currently underway. The improvements, valued at $4.6 million, are being made in collaboration with the Northern Integrated Supply Project (NISP) and will include the dedication of nine acres of land for wetland restoration, in addition to more parking and play areas.

“Focusing on complementary uses at different times of the year will give a well-rounded approach to the whole tourism aspect of Windsor, taking advantage of its location and natural assets to be a destination of choice for many,” says Brown.

Talks are also underway to bring golf simulators to Windsor to complement the existing repertoire of golf courses that includes RainDance National Resort and Golf, the Falls Golf Club, Pelican Lakes Resort and Golf, Highland Meadows Golf Course, and Ptarmigan Country Club.

Sports tourism is a “cleaner economic dollar,” which results in direct benefits for the community. Investments in services, amenities, and infrastructure to support the sector have their payoff in an even better quality of life for its residents.

Sustainable quality of life
To take full advantage of its great central location in Northern Colorado and the natural assets that endow the area, Windsor has identified sustainable ways to grow that will preserve the hometown feel revered by its residents while elevating its offerings and amenities for all to enjoy.

Last year, Windsor saw a record level of investment with 67 different budgeted projects valued at $91 million, including a new police station to maintain the levels of safety and security the town is renowned for. Year after year, it has been acknowledged as one of the safest places in the state.

Discussions are also taking place around capitalizing on the growing number of visitors to the town each year with a tourism/lodging tax which will benefit residents and businesses. “We’re putting out a survey for residents to see if they want a tourism/lodging tax and, if that comes down, what do they want the money spent on,” says Brown, who believes the next logical step would be a local transit system.

“It would be a sustainable transit or shuttle system that serves both tourists and residents, reducing the numbers of cars on the road at any time but optimizing connectivity throughout the community and the growing offering of amenities,” she says. Hopefully, this system would also encourage people to stay longer and increase their local spend, while enjoying even higher levels of service.

The place to be
The objective for Brown is to “give them something fun and memorable too so that they enjoy their time in Colorado, and particularly in Windsor,” making Windsor the place to be in Northern Colorado, especially for sports and adventure.

“We’re fortunate that when outside teams come to our community, they have great opportunities for recreation with all our parks, trails, events, and programs. We’re fortunate to have a lake in the middle of our community that offers over 70 community events on an annual basis; an 85,000 square foot Community Recreation Center that sees over 400,000 annual users; a River Experience for families to enjoy during their off time at the sports complexes,” says Fotsch.

Whether it’s a tournament-turned-family vacation, a professional sports match, or one of the natural outdoor adventures Windsor has on offer, there are countless reasons to come and even more reasons to stay. With continued investment, there will be even more to come.



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