Sports federation comes to Colorado Springs

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Hundreds of sports officials are coming to Colorado Springs as the 95-member General Association of International Sports Federation (GAISF) hosts its 36th Congress and General Assembly at The Broadmoor Hotel.

It is only the third time the federation has met in the U.S. but the second time for the federation to meet in Colorado Springs. The U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation, the El Pomar Foundation and The Broadmoor Hotel are sponsors.

“We are proud and honored to once again have the opportunity to welcome leaders from throughout the world of international sport as they convene in Colorado Springs for the GAISF Congress and General Assembly,” said Dave Ogrean, president of the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation. “The opportunity to conduct business in a city that is recognized worldwide for its leadership in sports, and the chance to enjoy the unparalleled beauty of Colorado, were key factors in awarding the 2002 Congress and General Assembly to our city and state.”

The meetings underscore the importance Colorado Springs plays in the world’s sports picture, organizers said. Those attending the Nov. 22-24 congress will spend thousands of dollars during their visit, adding to the millions of dollars sports brings to town every year.

Hosting the congress “speaks volumes of our reputation worldwide as a primary sports destination,” said Darryl Seibel, chief operating officer of the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation.

“There are reasons for that,” Seibel said. “When you look at the USOC being headquartered here, that is extremely important; when you look at the fact that in total there are 45 national or international sports organizations headquartered here… when you look at the legacy of the El Pomar Foundation and its continued support for sports on a local level, a national level and an international level, those factors are extremely important.

“No other community has that (support, a plethora of sports organizations, and worldwide recognition),” said Seibel. “When you combine those elements you develop a synergy that is very, very attractive and very influential in international sports.”

The USOC came to Colorado Springs in 1978, and 25 years later 45 national or international sporting associations call the city home. That translates into big bucks for the area economy.

A survey taken a few years ago, and considered reasonably accurate today, reports sports organizations and foundations employ more than 1,500 people in Colorado Springs; collectively earning about $54 million annually. The Colorado Springs Sports Corporation assisted in conducting the survey. It said sports organizations purchase more than $63 million in goods and services each year from local companies.

However, combined with other jobs directly or indirectly related to sports business, the local economy benefits from more than $316 million in spending.

The presence of the USOC in Colorado Springs is a major reason the General Association of International Sports Federation is hosting its annual meeting here, Seibel said. There are others.

“A point of emphasis for us as the local organizing committee is to reinforce the unique sports heritage of Colorado Springs, and the fact that we are recognized worldwide as a premier destination for sports activity and business,” Seibel added.

The GAISF includes international federations that are governing bodies for numerous sports in the world, and many of its members are on the IOC, or International Olympic Committee.

GAISF president and IOC member, Un Yong Kim, welcomes attendees at the opening session on November 22, and the keynote address comes from Marty Mankamyer, president of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

The federation will address numerous problems and issues, perhaps including the skating judge scandal from the Salt Lake City Winter Games.

Bill Hybl, president emeritus of the USOC, gives the keynote address November 23.

The first GAISF congress was held in Lausanne in 1967. It was first held in the U.S. in 1973, in Oklahoma City. It was last held in Colorado Springs in 1987.