West Michigan Starts Countdown to 2017 State Games of America | Sports Destination Management

West Michigan Starts Countdown to 2017 State Games of America

Apr 26, 2017

In just 100 days, 12,000 athletes from 50 states plus Canada will descend upon West Michigan to participate in the State Games of America, Aug. 3-6. Already, athletes from 42 states plus Ontario have registered to participate in the 60 events showcasing 48 sports at 35 venues across West Michigan – from beach wrestling in North Muskegon, to sporting clay shooting in Caledonia, to golf in Cedar Springs and everything in between.

“We are ready and excited to host the nation’s top athletes in one of America’s largest multi-sport competitions right in our backyard,” said Eric Engelbarts, executive director of the Meijer State Games of Michigan and event director of the 2017 State Games of America. “This journey began in 2014 when we pitched the National Congress of State Games on why Grand Rapids should host this event, and now we’re on the brink of welcoming thousands of athletes to compete in venues across the region.”

The State Games of America is a biennial Olympic-style event featuring competition between State Games medal winners (gold, silver, and bronze) from the 30 states who conduct or organize statewide sports festivals known as State Games. The West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC)Experience Grand Rapids and Meijer State Games of Michigan partnered to bid on and host the 2017 State Games of America, beating San Diego; Lincoln, Neb. and Hampton Roads, Va. The 2015 State Games of America was held in Lincoln. Other host cities have included St. Louis, Colorado Springs and San Diego. Grand Rapids is the first Michigan city to host a State Games of America.

“Grand Rapids offered a very compelling bid based on its successful Meijer State Games of Michigan and its many community and local sports partnerships,” said Dan Duffy, president of the National Congress of State Games. “We look forward to bringing this national event to Michigan and seeing Grand Rapids put its mark on the State Games of America.”

State Games of America in Numbers

Registration is open for 60 events in 48 sports (see full lineup), and athletes have already registered from 42 states plus Ontario, Canada. Planners anticipate athletes will represent every state by the time registration closes. 

The State Games of America will operate in place of the annual Meijer State Games of Michigan - Summer Games, yet it will have a much larger footprint than the State Games. The following data demonstrates the scale of the State Games of America:

  • 25,000 attendees, including athlete families

  • 12,000 athletes (4,000 from out of state), with an estimated 60 percent between 10 and 19 years old

  • 5,500 hotel rooms booked at 30 partner hotels from Kalamazoo to Big Rapids

  • 1,000-plus volunteers

  • 48 sports in 60 events, including popular events in figure skating (the State Games of America events also serve as the U.S. Figure Skating National Competition), pickleball and swimming

  • 35 venues across West Michigan, including

    • DeVos Place hosting 13-plus sports in addition to Athlete Village

    • Van Andel Arena, also hosting the Opening Ceremony Aug. 4

    • Other venues across West Michigan, from Muskegon and Holland on the west side, to Caledonia on the southeast side, to Cedar Springs and Sparta to the north

  • $10 million in estimated economic impact from direct visitor spending

“While participants will vie to win gold, silver and bronze medals, all of West Michigan wins with full hotel rooms, restaurants and other businesses at capacity,” said Mike Guswiler, president of the WMSC. “Our community will be amazed to see the sheer size and scope of the games as we roll out the red carpet to host this premier event while showcasing all West Michigan has to offer.”

Participation Opportunities

There are many ways to participate in the State Games of America for both individuals and businesses.

Athletes: While most out-of-state athletes must qualify by winning gold, silver or bronze medals in their respective State Games, all Michigan athletes are eligible to compete without first qualifying in a State Games event. Athletes can click on the respective sports at stategamesofamerica.com/sportlisting2017 for registration fees and deadlines, which vary per event. For complete eligibility information, visit stategamesofamerica.com/eligibility.

Spectators: Spectator opportunities abound, from watching individual sporting events to attending the Opening Ceremony at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 4 at Van Andel Arena, featuring the Parade of Athletes, a laser show, and a headliner entertainment act to be announced at a later date. This ticketed event is expected to sell out, and tickets can be purchased online. For information on purchasing spectator tickets to sports venues and special events, visit stategamesofamerica.com/admissions.

Sponsors/Vendors: Sponsorship opportunities are available at a variety of levels, from Supporting to Titanium, in addition to customized opportunities. For more information about sponsorships, contact Eric Engelbarts at eengelbarts@stategamesofmichigan.com. Current sponsors include Meijer (Titanium); Lake Michigan Credit Union (Platinum); DeVos Place, Fox Motors, Metro Health, SMG, Subway and Van Andel Arena (Gold); Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Liberty University, MyWay Mobile Storage and Pure Michigan (Silver); and Millennia Technologies, MSA Fieldhouse, Peppino’s Pizzeria, SOS Rehydrate and Warner Norcross & Judd (Bronze). Vendor opportunities also exist, offering logo recognition, promotional material placement in athlete bags and a booth at the DeVos Place Exhibit Hall for the event duration. Contact Justin Ewald at jewald@stategamesofmichigan.com for vendor information.

Volunteers: Approximately 1,000 volunteers are needed to support the State Games of America, with opportunities to participate in tasks such as athlete check-in, Opening Ceremony and meal delivery, in addition to staffing athletic events (some sports have their own recruitment process). Visit stategamesofamerica.com/volunteer for volunteer information and to register.

About the West Michigan Sports Commission: The West Michigan Sports Commission, a non-profit 501 (c) (3), works to identify, secure and host a diverse level of youth and amateur sporting events to make a positive impact on the region’s economy and quality of life. Celebrating 10 years since its inception in 2007, the WMSC has booked 568 sporting events and tournaments that attracted 880,000 athletes and visitors, generating $240 million in direct visitor spending. For more information, visit westmisports.com and Facebook.com/WestMichiganSportsCommission and follow @WestMiSports.

About the Meijer State Games of Michigan: Modeled after the Olympics, the Meijer State Games of Michigan welcomes athletes regardless of age or ability level and embodies the values of participation, sportsmanship and healthy living among residents of Michigan. A signature event of the West Michigan Sports Commission, the Meijer State Games of Michigan is a grassroots organization that relies on the dedication of thousands of volunteers and the support of corporate partners. For more information, visit stategamesofmichigan.com.

About the National Congress of State Games/State Games of America: The National Congress of State Games (NCSG) is a membership organization comprised of 30 State Games organizations and a member of the United States Olympic Committee's Multi Sport Organizational Council. The NCSG is the rights holder of the State Games of America, an Olympic-style event featuring competition between State Games medal winners (gold, silver, bronze) from across the nation. The mission of the NCSG is to support State Games member organizations in the promotion of health, fitness and character building through Olympic-style competitions and physical activities. For more information, visit stategames.org.

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