Biennial games will bring 10,000 of nation’s best athletes from 31 states to Pennsylvania
WorkPlay, PA (Hershey Harrisburg Region) – The National Congress of State Games (NCSG) and the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau (HHRVB) today announced the 2013 State Games of America (SGA) will be coming to the Hershey Harrisburg region of Pennsylvania. The decision came after an extensive eight-month selection process that included presentations by each bidding destination and a three-day site visit by the NCSG site selection committee in November.
The winning bid was spearheaded by the HHRVB’s Sports Marketing Manager Gregg Cook and President Mary Smith in conjunction with the Keystone State Games’ CEO Owen Costello. The NCSG site-selection effort was headed by Pete Lampman, Executive Director of the Coventry Commonwealth Games of Virginia, and chair of the NCSG State Games of America committee.
The biennial Olympic-style sports event, tentatively slated for late July and early August 2013, features competition between top medal winners from the 31 State Games across the nation. Event organizers anticipate over 30 different sports will be hosted at a variety of venues located throughout the region known for being the home to Pennsylvania’s capital city of Harrisburg and the town of Hershey, The Sweetest Place On Earth®.
One of the most anticipated SGA events is the Olympic-style Opening Ceremonies, where athletes parade in under their home state banner, followed by entertainment and torch lighting. Some of the venues being considered for the 2013 Opening Ceremonies include Hersheypark Stadium, the Giant Center, and Metro Bank Park.
Tourism officials see this as an opportunity to draw national attention to the Hershey Harrisburg region, which has long been a popular vacation destination within the Mid-Atlantic region of the country and recognized worldwide as the headquarters for © The Hershey Company.
The HHRVB has been working aggressively over the past five years to position this family vacation spot as a youth-sports destination. This summer the region was selected to host the 2011-2013 Keystone State Games, Pennsylvania’s annual state games competition. In 2013 the SGA will run simultaneously with the Keystone State Games, and over 10,000 athletes are expected to compete.
The economic impact of hosting 10,000 athletes and their families in 2013 is not lost on local officials like Dauphin County Commissioner George Hartwick, III, an avid supporter of attracting youth athletic competitions to the region.
“An event of this magnitude has an enormous positive impact on our local economy,” Hartwick said. “We welcome the athletes from across this nation with open arms into our towns and communities. As a region that is well-adapted for visitors, we’ll be ready to show these athletes and their families a great time.”
According to Smith, the region’s key attributes are grabbing the attention of sporting event producers seeking a family-friendly destination that combines accessibility, affordability, and versatility.
“The versatility we can offer clients comes from our extensive inventory of event facilities,” said Smith. “We have access to a large variety of venues utilized by several minor league sports teams, the Hershey Entertainment & Resorts company, and the numerous colleges and high schools within the region.
Additionally, the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center provides one million square feet of indoor event space and a new 78,500 square foot SnapSports® ShockTower® indoor sports surface system that can accommodate 15 basketball or 20 volleyball courts, and can be configured for team handball, indoor field hockey, fencing, futsal, wrestling, and cheerleading.
The Hershey Harrisburg region’s central location within the Mid-Atlantic region makes it easily accessible by auto, Amtrak, or air from major east coast population centers and is more affordable on average than those larger metropolitan areas. Plus the region’s family-friendly attractions and unique experiences also become major selling points for event producers.
“We were confident throughout the bid process that the Hershey Harrisburg region offered the most unique experiences for the athletes and families,” said Costello. “Much of the allure for youth sporting events is what the families can do after the competition. This region has Hershey’s chocolate, Lancaster’s Dutch Amish communities, and Gettysburg’s civil war battlefields all within a few miles. It’s the perfect package, allowing the athlete to compete in a national event and the whole family to experience those three American originals.”
The NCSG was created in 1986 to encourage the development of State Games throughout the country, gather and share information amongst existing State Games, and to further the ideals of the Olympic spirit through amateur athletic competitions across the United States.
“We could not be more excited to bring our marquee national event to the Hershey Harrisburg region in three years,” said NCSG President Barclay Kruse. “State Games of America is a diverse, exciting event, and because so many of the competitors are youth athletes, it has an energy that is absolutely unique to a major national event of this type.”
In 2009 the State Games of America was held in Colorado Springs and the 2011 SGA will be held in San Diego from August 4-7. SGA has been held in St Louis (1999 and 2001); Hartford, Conn. (2003); and Colorado Springs (2005, 2007 and 2009). The event is a property of the National Congress of State Games, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization and a community-based member of the U.S. Olympic Committee.