CO State Games return to Colorado Springs area

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The Colorado State Games might sound familiar to many people. It has been a part – albeit a small part – on the Colorado sports scene for many years, but hasn’t seen Pikes Peak terra firma for 10 years.
But since Dave Ogrean took the helm of the Colorado Springs Sports Corp. in May 2000, the organization has been working hard to bring it back to this region.
One big addition to the return of the sporting extravaganza is the appointment of part-time general manager Theophilus (Theo) Gregory. Designated September 1, Gregory is also an associate vice president with the El Pomar Foundation. A Springs’ resident since 1992, Gregory has an extensive background in sports administration including director of athletics and associate director at the Center for the Study of Sports and Leisure at CU-The Springs as well as a former teacher and student advisor at Ohio State University.
“It is an Olympic-style competition for Colorado citizens of all ages and abilities,” said Gregory. “You don’t have to be an athlete, but if you want to play … you can sign up!”
Gregory touts the games as a community event that is also family entertainment. “It’s about fitness. It’s about health. It’s about Colorado coming together. It encourages competition for all citizens of all ages.”
If the games can draw about 5,000 people per day during the three days of events, the Pikes Peak area could experience a financial impact of nearly $1.8 million in lodging, gasoline and food sales.
“I think it will exceed that if we get it going like we think,” said Jean Watson, sports sales and special events manager for the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. “It’s high time we got it back on track. I think it will have a big appeal. Tourism is based on our drive market … it’s a perfect fit. It’s something I think families are interested in and can drive to. That’s why we’re excited about it.”
Sanctioned by the National Congress of State Games, the Olympic-style sports festival is for athletes of all abilities and ages. The multi-game sport was held in the Springs’ area from 1988 to 1991, then moved north to Denver after experiencing a financial flop in the Pikes Peak region during its last season here. It met with moderate success in the big city for two years, then wiggled its way to Ft. Collins, where it has quietly settled. Ogrean decided to bring the games back to this area after visiting our northern neighbors. Billings, Wyoming hosts the Big Sky State Games and has met with great success throughout the years with 35 sporting events and 1,200 athletes and 200 volunteers last year. In all, there are 40 states that hold State Games.
Ogrean assumed the franchise to the Colorado State Games in September, 2000 from the National Congress of Games. A specific name for the events has not yet been determined but Ogrean is anticipating that nearly 25 percent of the participants will come from the Pikes Peak region.
Although the specific sports have not yet been chosen, Gregory hopes to bring back between 15 to 20 sports this year. He based this on statistics from other State Games with 3,500 or less participants. It would require about 200 volunteers who would work primarily in the organizational areas including registration and distribution of food and drinks. He is seriously considering including the triathlon, track and field, archery, badminton, table tennis, weightlifting, wrestling, swimming, tennis and slow-pitch ball for women and men.
Based on operational costs of State Games in other states, he is expecting to work with an operating budget of between $150,000 and $250,000.
Gregory’s target dates for the events would be August 2, 3, and 4, 2002 and is in the process of talking with the United States Air Force Academy about using their space. It would include “building” an Olympic village with “lots of freebees,” said Gregory, including t-shirts and other promotional materials.
“What a great place to launch the 02 Olympic (State) Games,” said Gregory.
If not, it would be spread out around town and might include the El Pomar Sports Park, Colorado Springs World Arena, USOC training center, Memorial Park and other area sporting facilities. He might also be able to work with Harrison School District No. 2 and Cheyenne School District No. 12 in using some space.
Funding a state game comes from three components, said Gregory: state government funding such as lottery proceeds, tobacco cash settlements and casino money; corporate sponsorship; and entry fees from participants.
Although the participants entry fees have not yet been determined, he believes they would vary between $10 and $25 per person, per sport – depending on the event. Larger events, such as the triathlon, might cost more.