Jim McKenna, ESG alum Tucker West and Sandy Caligiore speak to media as they announce a new partnership between the winter games and the Empire State Sports Foundation.
A new partnership with the foundation looking to bring the Empire State Summer Games back will also prove beneficial for the annual Winter Games here.
James McKenna and Sandy Caligiore announced the partnership with the Empire State Sports Foundation of Rochester Oct. 4.
“We started this discussion to put both games under the same major brand during the last winter games,” McKenna said. “We will now have one voice when it comes to attracting sponsorships and getting people motivated for the games.”
McKenna said that having a central foundation to market the games will help bring in more revenue through sponsorships and advertising, which will allow both events to grow.
“Our goal is getting youth involved in sports and we have to be something that is well rounded,” he said. “You have this new wave of sports that are becoming part of the winter landscape and we want to expand the number of sports that are involved. Through this partnership, we will be in a better position to grow to that level by being a partner with the foundation.”
McKenna added that he felt the partnership with the Empire State Sports Foundation would help the winter games reach their goals.
“We started this new venture three years ago with eight municipalities and a lot of private sector sponsors,” he said. “Our intent has always been to grow these games so they become one of the premier multi-sport events in the United States, and this is going to help us accomplish that.”
“This is definitely going to help us state wide,” Caligiore said. “With the foundation, they will help us with attracting sponsors and other things, but we will maintain the autonomy to run the games the way that we have been running them for over three decades.”
Caligiore said that the purpose of the games were to continue to involve youth athletes in olympic sporting events, including Tucker West, who raced at the Winter ESG and helped win a gold medal in the recent Youth Winter Olympics.
“I give all the credit to ESG for my continuing in luge,” West, 17, said. “It was great practice for the youth olympics. It was a great atmosphere to compete in and meet other athletes.”
Empire State Sports Foundation has taken over the planning, promotion and organization of the summer games thanks to a recent agreement signed with the New York State Parks Department.
At a press conference announcing the creation of the Foundation, Stephen Gionta, an ESG alum and current National Hockey League (locked out) player, talked about his experiences.
“I played in the Empire State Games, and I loved it,” Gionta said. “It was one of the most memorable moments of my young hockey career. To play against the best in the state, to play for my region, to play for a gold medal – nothing compares. I hope all alumni join me in lending their voice and helping to bring back the Empire State Games.”
The foundation has also received support from former summer games athlete and U.S. women’s soccer star Abby Wambach as well as Michael G. Carey, the son of former state Gov. Hugh L. Carey, who founded the games in 1978. Due to the fiscal reasons, the state funding was cut in 2009, and the games were permanently discontinued in 2010. The Winter Games continued thanks to the work of Lake Placid and all the communities of the Adirondack region.