Meijer State Games of Michigan–Summer Games Wrap Up

Meijer State Games of Michigan–Summer Games Wrap Up; Sights Turn to 2017 State Games of America

As the signature event of the West Michigan Sports Commission (WMSC), the Meijer State Games of Michigan continues to be the most celebrated multi-sport Olympic-style event in our state. In 2015, the Meijer State Games of Michigan – Summer Games featured 41 sports and almost 8,000 amateur athletes competing for gold, silver and bronze medals. If we include Winter Games in the count, the Meijer State Games have reached almost 10,000 athletes in 2015 alone. Over the past six years, the Games have touched almost 38,500 athletes’ lives.

While athlete numbers show the event continues to be a success, the WMSC also measures success by another important metric – direct visitor spending (a formula that factors in the number of hotel rooms booked, amount of money families spend while attending events, etc.) The 2015 Summer Games is estimated to have generated $3 million for greater Grand Rapids.

Recently, the Nebraska Sports Council (who runs the Cornhusker State Games) hosted the 2015 State Games of America, estimated to generate $20 million in direct visitor spending from the event that hosted 15,000+ athletes and their families. The Meijer State Games of Michigan, WMSC and Experience Grand Rapids are excited to be the next hosts of the State Games of America in 2017 (SGA occurs every two years), when we hope to experience a similar economic impact for our community.

In preparation for 2017, we sent a delegation from the WMSC and MSGOM staff to Lincoln, Neb., to experience the event and learn what is required to run an event of this magnitude. After staying in Lincoln and working alongside the Nebraska Sports Council for eight days, I found many of the systems and processes that Nebraska has in place are very similar, if not the same, as what we do in Michigan. One aspect that stood out was their use of the best venues available. For example, the Opening Ceremonies were held at the University of Nebraska’s football field, Memorial Stadium. The athlete check-in/athlete village/wrestling events were hosted in the newly built Pinnacle Bank Arena. Figure Skating (one of SGA’s largest events) was in the newly renovated Ralston Arena. Certainly food for thought as we look at our region and pair up our crown jewel venues with key events of the 2017 State Games of America.

Overall, the 2015 State Games of America was extremely well done and created a lot of momentum for Grand Rapids in 2017. Attendees saw a 2017 State Games of America promotional video about Grand Rapids that ran during the Opening Ceremonies, and the Grand Rapids delegation staffed an informational booth where we interacted with many of the attendees – and they are excited to join us in Michigan.

We hope to take this momentum and build upon the number of athletes and families that will visit West Michigan with the hopes of elevating the direct visitor spending and showing the country the great resources our state and region offers.

Eric Engelbarts II, CTA
Guest Blogger
Eric is executive director of the Meijer State Games of Michigan, a signature event of the West Michigan Sports Commission.

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