Rocky Mountain State games to bring athletes, money to town

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During the next two weeks an estimated 7,000 athletes are expected in Colorado Springs for the 2011 Rocky Mountain State Games, a multi-sport festival for Colorado and Wyoming citizens.

The games, in its 10th year in Colorado Springs and hosted by the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation, begin July 21 with tennis, but the opening ceremony will be July 29 at Colorado Springs World Arena with the bulk of the games held the weekend of July 29 -31.

The event is expected to bring in an estimated $9 million to Colorado Springs and the region, said Mike Moran, Colorado Springs Sports Corporation senior media consultant.

That number is up from last year when the games had about a $7 million economic impact on the city as athletes and their families and fans took up hotel rooms and spent money on food and other area attractions.

The Sports Corporation will not know how many hotel rooms were booked as part of this year’s games until about a week after the event, Moran said. But, last year the typical stay for an athlete coming in from out of town was three days, he said.

This year, the games are spread over two weekends, which is a new model for the event. In years past, the event was three to four days over one weekend. This new model could bring in more money to local businesses.

“We are testing some new theories, and thinking about making this into a longer festival,” Moran said.

This year, the games features 34 sports for athletes of all ages and athletic abilities, including physically disabled, visually impaired and Paralympic athletes. The games are recognized by the National Congress of State Games, a member organization of the United State Olympic Committee.

This week, about 1,200 athletes are expected for the tennis, basketball, BMX, inline hockey and soccer games. Opening ceremonies will be July 29 at the Colorado Springs World Arena with a performance by American Idol winner Taylor Hicks.

Athlete registration, so far, is tracking with last year, although there was an increase in the number of swimmers this year from 200 to 500. Event organizers are hoping other events grow as much, but for now they expect about 6,000 athletes in the second week of games, which include diving, table tennis and weightlifting.

“The second weekend is going to be much bigger,” Moran said.

Click here for a list of events and game times.