Home News Local News Hike It and Spike It postponed until 2021

Hike It and Spike It postponed until 2021

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File Photo The Hike It and Spike It charity flag football tournament involves more than 500 teams from 30 states.

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

The organizers of one of Roswell’s largest tourist draws have decided that the annual event will be canceled for 2020 due to concerns about the coronavirus.

PS Sports, the Michigan company which runs Hike It and Spike It, and local organizers Carleton “Cla” Avery and Jim Matteucci, announced Saturday that its scheduled May 22-24 event is postponed until Memorial Day Weekend 2021.

Held in Roswell for 24 years, the charity flag football tournament fills hotel rooms, raises tens of thousands for local charities and has an economic impact of about $4 million.

Avery called it a difficult decision, but one made in the interest of public health.

“We first and foremost have our players, spectators, volunteers, sponsors, vendors, everyone’s well-being and safety in mind,” Avery said. “We certainly, given the situation health-wise, we certainly don’t want to risk anyone’s health with an event that’s fun. … There are certainly more important things for us to be concerned about now.”

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According to information provided by the organizers for a 2019 publication, the 2018 event involved 527 teams and 3,756 players from 30 states. An equal number of spectators and family and friends also were estimated to attend games. About 65% of participants and crowd members were believed to be from outside Roswell. Total direct economic impact was put at $3.99 million.

The winning team in 2018 earned $3,000, but teams and sponsors also raised $22,000 for the United Way of Chaves County, Character Counts! of Chaves County, the New Mexico Mounted Patrol, the New Mexico Youth Challenge Academy as well as high school clubs, churches and performing arts groups.

Because of its importance to the area, the event was designated in 2018 by the city as one of four annual “signature events.” That meant the city would prioritize providing services and lodgers tax funding to support them. The other events are the Eastern New Mexico State Fair, the UFO Festival and the Cinco de Mayo and Rise over Roswell event.

Avery said that the organizers had been thinking in late February or early March that cancellation might have to occur.

“Obviously social distancing doesn’t work when you are playing 4-by-4 football and when there are hundreds, if not thousands of spectators, all over Cielo Grande (Recreation Area),” he said.

Avery said the decision was finalized after the New Mexico Public Education Department announced Friday that it was canceling classroom instruction for public K-12 schools for the remainder of the academic year and a similar decision Friday by the New Mexico Activities Association to cancel sports activities and events through the spring semester.

He said the city’s decision about curtailing funding of events until July was also a factor.

Other calendar dates for 2020 were considered, according to Avery, but the organizers did not want to schedule Hike It and Spike It when another big city event was planned — such as July 4, the date of the UFO Festival — or when high school football was underway. He added that the event requires a lot of coordination with a lot of different groups and people.

“We looked at other dates and possibilities, but, from what we looked at so far, our best option is to cancel this year and reschedule for Memorial Day 2021,” he said.

Avery said that team registration for the 2021 event likely will open in early March of that year.

The city of Roswell staff member who heads up tourism promotion, events and lodgers tax for the city said that the cancellation would affect the local economy, but that she supported the decision.

“While I am sure it was a difficult decision, I commend the organizers for putting the safety of our community first, as well as their players, volunteers and sponsors,” said Juanita Jennings, director of public affairs. “The impact to the city and its businesses and our hotels will be felt, but the organizers’ decision to help stop the spread (of COVID-19) is important so that we, as a city, can get back to normal operations sooner.”

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

 

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.