Hosting State Games of America Bolsters West Michigan’s Sports Appeal
WEST MICHIGAN -- That Grand Rapids won the nod to host the 2017 State Games of America has ramifications beyond just the economic impact that bringing in thousands of out-of-state athletes and spectators will have on the region.
For Mike Guswiler, executive director of the West Michigan Sports Commission, hosting the athletic competition serves as validation for all the effort his organizations and others in the community have put in to elevating sports in the region.
“This is really a statement that we have arrived as a commission and as a destination for youth and amateur sports,” Guswiler said. Community support and strong facilities were ultimately the tipping points that helped Grand Rapids win its bid to host the State Games of America, which will be held Aug. 3-6 in 2017.
The biennial, Olympic-style sports competition is put on by the National Congress of State Games (NCSG) and will bring in an estimated 5,000 athletes from outside of the state to join the roughly 8,000 in-state competitors.
The West Michigan Sports Commission, Experience Grand Rapids and the Meijer State Games of Michigan submitted a bid to host the games back in May, competing against offers from Lincoln, Neb.; San Diego, Calif.; Hampton Roads, Va. and Oklahoma City, Okla.
“What it comes down to is the community support,” said Eric Engelbarts, who is the executive director of the Meijer State Games of Michigan — the West Michigan Sports Commission’s signature event — and also a representative of the NCSG.
“Through the state games, we work with 50-plus sporting organizations and associations,” he said. “When the National Congress came in (for the site visit), they met almost every single one of them through conversation or one way or the other. Through that process, we were able to listen to what they wanted and tailor our bid to make sure we met those needs.”
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