GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - A little flexibility earned Grand Rapids the opportunity to bring about $10 million in economic impact this weekend.
When representatives from the State Games of America came to the city for a site visit in 2014, they were blown away by the DeVos Place Convention Center. The only problem is that the facility was only planned to be used for one event — table tennis.
“They came in and asked us, ‘Could you imagine if you walked into this place and there were sports everywhere?’” Meijer State Games of Michigan Executive Director Eric Engelbarts said. “So, we took the feedback from that committee and went back and revised our bid, and when we did our final presentation, we had the layout all done. We turned it around within a week doing all this stuff and really took their feedback to heart, put in our bid and just went for it.”
That willingness to change things on the fly and work with the organizers of the national Olympics-style event gave Grand Rapids and the West Michigan Sports Commission an edge over competing cities like San Diego; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Hampton Roads, Virginia. On Aug. 4, the 2017 State Games of America will kick off its opening ceremony at Van Andel Arena, the first time they’ve been held in Michigan, and the WMSC estimates the weekend games will net $10 million in economic impact to the region.
“It is a pretty decent feat in that we were able to knock off some of the bigger boys and bring the event here,” Engelbarts said.
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