By Antonio Olivero / Lake Placid News
LAKE PLACID – Business leaders and elected officials here are trying to bring three major international winter sporting events to the Adirondacks over a five-year span to boost the region’s economy, international profile and winter sports facilities.
A week after returning from a fact-finding trip about the World University Games in Almaty, Kazakhstan, the Lake Placid/Adirondack World University Games delegation hosted a public information meeting Tuesday morning, Feb. 14, at the Conference Center at Lake Placid.
More than 50 area officials attended the meeting where the contingent discussed their impressions of the 2017 Games in Almaty, outlined why they believe the event will benefit Lake Placid and the Adirondacks and fielded questions from the crowd.
To end the presentation, Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism CEO Jim McKenna asked the assembled crowd if they thought bringing the World University Games here in 2023 was a good idea. The overall response from the crowd was positive.
McKenna added that there likely wouldn’t be a bidding contest for the games and that the village and the International University Sports Federation would finalize plans by this time next year if and when the two parties agreed to bring the event to Lake Placid and the Adirondacks.
But questions remain, as a plan for public and private funding is yet to be determined and proposed. The contingent also outlined what they termed a “possible timeline” for bringing the World University Games and two other major international events to the village: the International Children’s Games in 2019, the Special Olympics World Winter Games in 2021 and the World University Games in 2023.
“So we’ll go to the next step and we’ll figure out what that is,” McKenna said to end the meeting. “And I know the next thing too is we will take a real close look at that Special Olympics for 2021. And we know that we can do the 2019 event, and if that 2021 can fall in with FISU, then we’ve got something to start selling, we think.”
The contingent sees the three events in five years as a catalyst for a much-desired economic stimulant for the area, a clear reason to get funding to improve winter sports venues and a shot in the arm for the region’s brand as a world-class winter sports destination.
The continent also relayed that in order to host the World University Games, local colleges such as Clarkson University would factor into the planning and execution of the event as well. As many as 2,668 participants have competed in the games.
McKenna was joined on the trip by, Art Lussi, president of Lake Placid’s Crowne Plaza Resort and a state Adirondack Park Agency commissioner, state Olympic Regional Development Authority Executive Vice President Jeffery Byrne, North Elba Councilman Jay Rand, Adirondack Foundation CEO Cali Brooks, Ski Areas of New York President and CEO Scott Brandi, Clarkson University Vice President of External Relations Kelly Ogden-Chezum, Athlete Minder CEO Mara Smith and legal advisor Douglas Stewart.