LAKE PLACID-As soon as the curtain closed on a successful joint effort to keep the Winter Empire State Games alive, organizers were already talking about plans for the coming year and expansion.
"We are going to continue the commitment that we had to these games for a long time to come," Jim McKenna, Convention and Visitors Bureau president, said. "We are on the road for next year, and we hope to double our fundraising and expand the games."
McKenna said that he was pleased to see the response in three areas.
"The way that we were able to turn this around in a matter of hours and said that we can make this work was one of the most impressive things to me," Jim McKenna said. "What was also great was the reaction of the youth athletes who were just thankful that they were able to be a part of something that they had been looking forward to. The third was the coalition that we were able to pull together. It was great to see the partners that recognized the value of youth sport and the games and reached out to help."
McKenna said that in the coming year, he hopes that the group will be able to pull in more sponsors from more areas throughout the state and beyond, along with adding events to the games.
"I think that we need to take an example from the X-Games and get more of those future sports involved," McKenna said. "I also see a definite place for adaptive sports like skiing and sledge hockey being a part of the games."
McKenna said that he hopes to add venues from throughout the Adirondacks in order to help with the expansion.
"Using facilities in Saranac Lake and other places throughout the region would really make the games an Adirondack event," he said. "Our goal is to make this a premier multi-sport event for the entire region."
To show their commitment to regionalizing the games, McKenna announced that the new name of the games would be the Empire State Games Adirondacks, USA.
"It has become a very successful regional event," Jeff Byrne, ORDA senior vice president. "We are excited about the prospects of how we can make these games bigger, better and more diverse."
"I really think that the regional approach has been fantastic," Randy Preston, Wilmington supervisor, said.
"I think that these games are the feel-good story of the winter," Kim Reilly of the Visitors Bureau. "This is a statewide story of saving something that a lot of athletes look forward to."