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Lake Placid will decide on big sports events by end of 2017

April 3, 2017
By ANTONIO OLIVERO - Staff Writer (aolivero@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - A Lake Placid-based contingent visited Europe last month for further legwork to possibly bring two world winter sports events here in 2021 and 2023. They returned home with definitive deadlines and a plan for a regional sports committee.

Speaking Thursday, March 30, Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism CEO Jim McKenna said the organizing group will have to formally submit bids for a 2021 Special Olympics World Winter Games and a 2023 World University Games by Dec. 31.

McKenna added that the Adirondack contingent needs to give International University Sports Federation (FISU) officials an indication that it is putting a formal bid together for the 2023 World University Games by the end of May. He said the games' location will be decided late next winter. Then, no later than six months after a bid is awarded, an organizing committee would need to be formed.

Article Photos

Members of the Lake Placid-based contingent interested in bringing the 2023 World University Games to the Adirondack region meet with senior officials of the International University Sports Federation (FISU) at the FISU headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland in March.
(Photo provided — Winter Universiade Department)

For a 2021 Special Olympics bid, McKenna said the Adirondack contingent would need to inform the Special Olympics of its official bid interest by the end of June; then formal bidding documents need to be completed by Dec. 31. McKenna said Special Olympics officials will choose the host for the 2021 games around mid-spring 2018.

"We want to sort of still gauge interest of the region and the community and elected officials, (that) they feel we want to go down this road," McKenna said. "Then the next thing is to engage a little more thoroughly the FISU folks and the Special Olympics folks to give them a very concise but not totally planned-out vision of how we would do it, and probably try very hard to get them here before we get engaged - to make sure they feel confident and comfortable with what our facilities are before we go to the next step.

"They probably are going to have a letter of intent (from us) first," McKenna added, "but a letter of intent wouldn't commit us (to hosting)."

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Special Olympics

McKenna was in Austria recently for the Special Olympics World Winter Games along with Lake Placid village Mayor Craig Randall, North Elba town Councilman Jay Rand, Clarkson University Vice President of External Relations Kelly Ogden-Chezum and the contingent's legal advisor, Douglas Stewart. Jeff Byrne, of the state Olympic Regional Development Authority, was also in Austria for the games, though he worked the event as an official in charge of alpine venues.

The group took part in the Special Olympics World Games Organizing Committee's official Observer Program, which has a structured morning-through-evening itinerary similar to what the group experienced on a "fact-finding" trip at February's World University Games in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

"We got to see all the venues that they are using for all of their events," McKenna said of the Austria games. "And we also got to meet directly with the organizing committee folks and also the management of the Special Olympics International - they were with us the whole time."

McKenna said exploratory delegations from Japan, Germany, Switzerland and Sweden also took part in the program and may be interested in bidding on the games, which occur once every four years.

McKenna, Randall and Rand spoke of how impressed they were with the scope of the Special Olympics, from ESPN's broadcasting of events to the attendance of Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern - the country's head of government - to famous American Olympians such as Apollo Ono and Michelle Kwan assisting at the games.

They described the event as unlike anything else the Lake Placid region has ever hosted, though with 2,600 athletes they maintained the greater Lake Placid area could put on the event from a lodging and volunteer standpoint. McKenna said there were 3,000 volunteers, 1,100 officials, 1,100 media members, 5,000 family members and 105 competing countries at the Austria games.

"It's beyond sport," said McKenna, who credited Byrne with the original idea to bring the Special Olympics here.

"The important thing from our standpoint is to look at those numbers and say, 'Is this something that we can do?'" Byrne said.

Byrne added that though Lake Placid has never hosted a large-scale Special Olympics event, Special Olympians have taken part in official training camps while staying at the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid.

McKenna said the contingent still hasn't completely figured out the cost and funding of an official bid and organizing committee. Randall and Rand said both the village and town of North Elba would likely help to finance the planned regional sports committee through contingency funds of both municipalities.

Approval to fund the committee was tabled at the village's March 21 board meeting, as Randall was not in attendance while on the Europe trip. The village board is scheduled to meet Monday, April 3 and the town council is scheduled to meet Tuesday, April 4.

McKenna emphasized that the Adirondack contingent stressed to the Special Olympics' organizing committee how Lake Placid has existing infrastructure and facilities to host.

"(Regarding funding) well, we haven't figured that out," McKenna said, "and that's part of our decision process - whether we send a letter of intent."

"We certainly got a hold of what other organizing committees have done," he added, "but we are not that example. As we said, we have existing offices in place doing these (organizational and event) things."

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University Games

As for the 2023 FISU games, McKenna said the trip to Lausanne, Switzerland was a follow-up to "momentum gained" in Almaty last month, "to get to know their players and for them to get to know us."

"We gave them a bit of an aerial view of how this would happen in our region," he added. "We also wanted to get a good understanding of what their thoughts were of the World University Winter Games brand - how it could be beneficial for brand building for these games in North America."

"I think FISU is an interesting study" Byrne added, "because it does really have an opportunity for us to speak with the NCAA. ... With FISU, we think it would see (a Lake Placid games) as a great growth opportunity in North America."

FISU released an official statement on the Lake Placid contingent's two-day visit with FISU senior officials at FISU headquarters on March 20 and 21.

A Lake Placid games has the full support of the U.S. International University Sports Federation and the next meeting between the Adirondack contingent and FISU officials is scheduled during the federation's annual board meeting in Indianapolis at the end of April.

To the Lake Placid contingent's knowledge, no other bidder has expressed formal interest in the 2023 World University Games.

The Lake Placid village board also unanimously approved a letter of intent to host another world sporting event in 2019: the International Children's Games. Randall has said that, to his knowledge, no other city has expressed interest in hosting the 2019 games, and the village may get word on its request as soon as this summer.

 
 

 

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