Photo courtesy of USA Boxing.

An estimated 700 amateur boxers will be in Colorado Springs at the end of the month for the 2012 USA Boxing National Championships, to take a swing at a chance to compete in the summer Olympics in London.

The Feb. 27- March 3 event, dubbed as USA Boxing’s premier event, will draw athletes, their coaches, trainers and families, from across the country. The event is the official qualifier for the 2012 America’s Olympic Qualifier for men and the world championships for women.

For local hoteliers, the event is a hot-ticket item. February, and the entire first quarter, is typically a slow time for tourism in the Springs, said Dana Kahlhamer, Crowne Plaza hotel associate director of sales. The Crowne Plaza, which is the host hotel for the boxing event, has 1,800 room nights booked from Feb. 25 to March 4, she said.

“The beauty of it is they are coming for an entire week prior to the event,” Kahlhamer said. “It’s fantastic, we are super excited.”

Two years ago, the hotel hosted the athletes and held the boxing bouts in its ballroom. This year, the championships will be held on Fort Carson Army Installation. It’s a partnership that USA Boxing hopes will lead to youth boxing programs on the installation, said Anthony Bartkowski, executive director of USA Boxing, which is headquartered in Colorado Springs.

“It aligns with what we are trying to do on a larger scale on development of a relationship with large community groups,” Bartkowski said.

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There are no estimations on the total city-wide economic impact of the event. But, the athletes will be on their own for most of the meals.

Bartkowski said this year already has a record turnout for the number of athletes registered to participate – double last year’s number of athletes competing.

“It’s significant when you look at 700 plus athletes, plus the coaches and the tournament staff,” he said about the economic impact to the city. “The event has seen success in Colorado Springs … it is well received by the community. People are used to identifying Colorado Springs as home of the national championships.”

There is a new qualifying system that has attracted more boxers to the event but there also is more enthusiasm this year from athletes because it is an Olympic year. This event is key in qualifying for the Olympics, he said.

That could also explain ticket sales, Bartkowski said. The VIP tables are sold out and the 1,700 general admission tickets, at $12.50 each, are nearly sold out.

“There is a lot of interest in the Olympic year,” Bartkowski said. “And, the relationship with Fort Carson has increased the interest from the soldiers coming out to watch the event.”

Preliminary competition is scheduled to begin on Feb. 27 with action taking place daily through March 3. Championship night action will feature final round bouts in the seven unqualified men’s weight classes and seven non-Olympic women’s divisions.

Large-scale sporting events like boxing championships fit in great with the hotel’s season, Kahlhamer said.

“We live for this to come into our area,” she said. “It’s a boost that is much welcomed.”

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