2017 is turning out to be a big year for sports in West Michigan. Things are only going to get more exciting with the State Games of American coming up in August.
The organization responsible for bringing the games to West Michigan has a lot to celebrate, including its 10th anniversary, this month. For a decade, the West Michigan Sports Commission has promoted the region as a place to be for youth and amateur sporting events. And it has had a successful run doing so.
"It does go by quickly. But, at the same time it has been very impactful," said Mike Guswiler, president of WMSC. "We have done some terrific things in sports infrastructure. But, also with over 600 events and almost one million people tied to those events over these 10 years. That is both participators and spectators as well."
One of the milestones over the past decade came in 2014 when the WMSC opened the Art Van Sports Complex. The facility features 8 basketball and softball fields, a covered championship field and a Miracle Field. The complex has allowed West Michigan to host the Meijer State Games of Michigan - Winter Games and to win the bid to host the 2017 State Games of America. That takes place August 3 through 6.
"It is a huge achievement. We went up against cities like San Diego and Virginia Beach. Cities that are known for their destination," says Guswiler. "So, to grab this event, on a national scale says a lot about our State Games of Michigan. But, it also says a lot about our community."
Since 2007, West Michigan has booked 600 youth or amateur sporting events; hosted more than 900,000 athletes and visitors and had a $260 million economic impact in direct visitor spending.
"Looking forward we will continue to be looking at how we can make West Michigan and Grand Rapids a leader in youth and amateur sports. We will be looking at more sports infrastructure. But, we will also be bidding on a lot of events. We have some major ones coming up yet this year. But, in the future, there is USA BMX and many others like The United States Olympic Committee sports governing bodies. We are going after their events. So, who knows, short of the Olympics we have a lot of major things coming in.
Click here for more information about the impact the West Michigan Sports Complex has had over the past decade.
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