GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. -- Thousands of fans stepped up to the plate for the kick off of the Junior College World Series Saturday at Suplizio Field, and so far ticket sales are a home run.
This year’s JUCO tournament is the 59th version of this long-standing Grand Junction tradition, and many fans renew their tickets and seats year after year.
“We have 4th generation people coming, sitting in the same seats they did 25 years ago,” said Jamie Hamilton, chairman of Junior College World Series. “Kids I saw at 8 years old are now bringing their kids, so it’s pretty cool.”
"I come to meet some of my friends who come every year. We sit on the north side of the stands," said Lowell Lionberger, a long-time Grand Junction resident who attends nearly every game.
While the tournament brings in thousands of baseball fans to the stadium, JUCO also brings in $250,000 in ticket sales and $200,000 more in sponsorships.
"We split ticket sales 50/50 after expenses with the National Junior College Athletic Association,” said Hamilton. “The rest goes right back in to the stadium and into helping the community – from scholarships to dug outs for little league – just trying to do what's best for Western Colorado.”
This year fans are expected to pour into the stands, as ticket sales for the first game are already raking in $1,100 more than the opening game last year.
"At the end of the day, it’s not about the dollars,” Hamilton said. “We have the dollars to help with the facilities, but it’s about creating memories for all these student athletes and their families.”
The players will be running the bases until June 4.
Tickets are still available to purchase online and at the field ranging from $10 dollars to over $150.