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Hershey Harrisburg Region To Host 2013 State Games Of America

Biennial Games Will Bring 10,000 of Nation’s Best Athletes

From 31 States to Pennsylvania

The National Congress of State Games (NCSG) and the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau (HHRVB) recently announced the 2013 State Games of America (SGA) will be coming to the Hershey Harrisburg region of Pennsylvania. The decision came after an extensive eight-month selection process that included presentations by each bidding destination to a three-day site visit by the NCSG site selection committee in November.  The biennial Olympic-style sports event, tentatively slated for late July and early August 2013, features competition between top medal winners from the 31 State Games across the nation. Event organizers anticipate over 30 different sports will be hosted at a variety of venues located throughout the region that is known for being the home to Pennsylvania’s capital city of Harrisburg and the town of Hershey, The Sweetest Place On Earth®.

Tourism officials see this as an opportunity to draw national attention to the Hershey Harrisburg region, which has long been a popular vacation destination within the Mid-Atlantic region of the country and recognized worldwide as the headquarters for © The Hershey Company.  The Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau has been working aggressively over the past five years to position this family vacation spot as a youth-sports destination. This summer the region was named the host for the 2011-2013 Keystone State Games, Pennsylvania’s annual state games competition. In 2013 the SGA will run simultaneously with the Keystone State Games, and over 10,000 athletes are expected to compete.

“Our region’s key attributes are grabbing the attention of event producers,” said Mary Smith, president of the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau. “The region offers organizers with a combination of functionality, accessibility, and affordability.”  Event producers in fact find a versatile inventory of quality event facilities thanks to several factors including the region’s prospering minor league sports market, Hershey Resort, and a multitude of colleges and high schools including the Milton Hershey School. The Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center also provides one million sq. ft. of indoor event space with a new 78,500-sq. ft. SnapSports® ShockTower® indoor sports surface system that accommodates 15 basketball or 20 volleyball courts, and can be configured for team handball, indoor field hockey, fencing, futsal, wrestling, and cheerleading. Another key attribute includes the Hershey Harrisburg region’s central location within the Mid- Atlantic region, making it easily accessible by road, rail, or air from major east coast population centers.

Smith also credits the region’s unique attractions and experiences from the town of Hershey to nearby Gettysburg and Lancaster as major selling point for event organizers looking to attract youth athletes and their families.  The economic impact of hosting 10,000 athletes and their families in 2013 is not lost on local officials like Dauphin County Commissioner George Hartwick, III, who once competed as a wrestler in the Keystone State Games. “An event of this magnitude has an enormous positive impact on our local economy,” Hartwick said. “We welcome the athletes from across this nation with open arms into our towns and communities. As a region that is well adapted for visitors, we’ll be ready to show these athletes and their families a great time. So good, some may decide not to leave. It happens.”

The Hershey Harrisburg bid was spearheaded by the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau’s Sports Marketing Manager Gregg Cook and President Mary Smith in conjunction with the Keystone State Games CEO Owen Costello. The NCSG site-selection effort was headed by Pete Lampman, executive director of the Coventry Commonwealth Games of Virginia, and chair of the NCSG State Games of America committee.  “We were confident throughout the bid process that this region offered the most unique experiences for the athletes and families,” said Costello. “Much of the allure for youth sporting events is what the families can do after the competition. This region has Hershey’s chocolate, Lancaster’s Dutch Amish communities, and Gettysburg’s civil war battlefields all within a few miles. That’s all well worth the trip across the country for an athlete to compete in a national event and the family to experience three American originals.”

One of the most anticipated events at every State Games of America is the Olympic-style Opening Ceremonies, where athletes parade in under their home state banner, followed by entertainment and torch lighting. Some of the venues being considered for the 2013 Opening Ceremonies include Hersheypark Stadium, the Giant Center, and Metro Bank Park.  “We could not be more excited to bring our marquee national event to the Hershey Harrisburg region in three years,” said NCSG President Barclay Kruse. “State Games of America is a diverse, exciting event, and because so many of the competitors are youth athletes, it has an energy that is absolutely unique to a major national event of this type. Get ready Hershey Harrisburg, you’re going to have a great time!”

The NCSG was created in 1986 to encourage the development of State Games throughout the country, gather and share information amongst existing State Games, and to further the ideals of the Olympic spirit through amateur athletic competitions across the United States.  In 2009 the State Games of America was held in Colorado Springs and the 2011 SGA will be held in San Diego from August 4-7. SGA has been held in St Louis (1999 and 2001); Hartford, Conn. (2003); and Colorado Springs (2005, 2007 and 2009). The event is a property of the National Congress of State Games, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization and a community-based member of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

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