Colorado Springs takes pride in its participatory sports, and understandably so. But for those who'd prefer to watch their games, the region has plenty on its plate.
The biggest local draw for the past half-century has been Air Force Academy football. The Falcons play in the Mountain West Conference and have a long history of success against Army and Navy, but also a habit of over-achieving that includes victories against Notre Dame (six times), Ohio State, Texas, Virginia Tech, Nebraska, Stanford and others.
Air Force plays six or seven home games a year in picturesque Falcon Stadium, capacity 46,692, with lower ticket prices than most major-college programs. Last year, season tickets ranged from $100 to $200. (Prices were not set for 2015 as of press time; call 472-1895 for information.) This fall, coming off a 10-3 record in 2014 with a bowl victory against Western Michigan, the Falcons will have home games against Army, Utah State, Wyoming, Fresno State, San Jose State and Morgan State.
Next in terms of national prominence is college hockey, with Colorado College and Air Force having made the NCAA Tournament many times.
CC, competing in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, plays its home games at Broadmoor World Arena (capacity 7,750 for hockey), while Air Force, a member of the Atlantic Hockey Association, has its own Cadet Ice Arena (seating 2,502). Each season the Tigers and Falcons meet for non-conference games, a long series that CC has dominated but not lately, with Air Force having won four of their past seven meetings.
Air Force also plays major-college basketball at Clune Arena (5,858), and the Falcon men have remained competitive after a run of success in the 2000s that took them to the NCAA Tournament in 2004 and 2006.
At the NCAA Division II level, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs has emerged in the past two seasons as nationally competitive in men's and women's basketball, with both teams advancing to the NCAA second round in 2015. Their home arena is the 1,250-seat Gallogly Events Center on the UCCS campus.
Since 1988, minor-league baseball has been a staple, with the Colorado Springs Sky Sox playing their Pacific Coast League home games on the city's east side at Security Service Field (capacity 8,500).
From 1993 through 2014, the Sky Sox were the Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, with such future stars as Todd Helton, Carlos Gonzalez and Matt Holliday coming through. This year brings major change, as the Sky Sox now are the top farm team for the Milwaukee Brewers for the 144-game season that runs from early April to Labor Day. The home schedule of 72 games includes promotions such as eight Friday Fireworks nights, and single-game tickets cost $11 to $13, with options for multiple games more in the $10 range.
The region also has a new pro franchise and sport in 2015 with the Colorado Springs Switchbacks Football Club starting play as an expansion team in the USL Pro soccer league, which also includes teams from such cities as Los Angeles, Vancouver and Seattle. The owners of the Switchbacks put $2 million into upgrading Sand Creek Stadium, which now will hold 3,500 spectators.
This season the Switchbacks will play 14 home games, generally two or three each month from April to September, with tickets ranging from $15 to $35. They're available at switchbacksfc.com or 368-8480.
As a volunteer Coach and Mentor in my third year at The First Tee of…