By PAT BRADLEY / WAMC
After a year and a half of meetings and negotiations, the organizers of the World University Games have selected Lake Placid to host the 2023 winter games.
Earlier this week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that organizers from the Adirondack region and the Switzerland-based International University Sports Federation had signed a Memorandum of Understanding to hold the 2023 winter games in the Lake Placid area.
Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism CEO Jim McKenna explains that a final agreement will be crafted over the next 2 and a half months. “We’re looking at a number of different sports, some that are mandatory and some that we’ll be able to choose so we’re still figuring those issues out. We have to really finalize all the sports sites which you know it looks that we will be using a lot of the facilities throughout the region. There’s a lot of areas that we still have to work on. You know I think we put a team together that they feel very confident will be able to put everything together and have a very successful games.”
The region now has five years to prepare for an athletic event that Lake Placid Mayor Craig Randall says is second in size only to the Olympics. “There’s a great deal of work to do to prepare for them. Embedded in all of that work are improvements and upgrades to our venues which in some cases were really last looked at seriously for upgrades when they were done for the ’80 Olympic Games. In addition to that looking at it from a community standpoint it has the opportunities in it to help support some of our housing needs. Looking more regionally these games will use facilities that will go far beyond Lake Placid. For the North Country it has a significant impact.”
The World University Games are held every two years in a different city. About 2,500 student-athletes compete in sports like skiing, speed skating, figure skating and hockey during the 11-day event. Again, Mayor Randall. “They’re looking for cities where they have facilities already and they’re not receiving bids from multiple cities at one time that drive up the cost of the bid process. So for Lake Placid we were fortunate that the idea of bringing it back to the U.S. appealed to the Winter Universiade people. And we were the only city that actually was bidding for 2023.”
McKenna says securing the World University Games is already impacting the region. “It’s signifying that our region is back in the ballgame for this type of event. And we’re identified as a key player in the world and many times over this University bid process we’ve dealt with many different sports organizations and more than once they’ve referred to it as ‘famous Lake Placid.’ And it’s another step in the international sports legacy. This will establish us like the 1980 Olympics did for many years past these games.”
Lake Placid hosted the 1972 Winter World University Games and the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics.