Rocky Mountain State Games attracts record number of athletes

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The 2011 Rocky Mountain State Games attracted a record 7,067 athletes — the highest number of athletes in the 10-year-history of the event — over two weekends in July and August.

About half of the athletes came in from outside El Paso County and represented 28 states. An estimated 10,500 spectators watched the events at 22 venues across the city, according to the Colorado Springs Sports Corp., host of the games.

Athletes competed in 33 sports at the games, which conclude in September with the figure skating competition at the Sertich Ice Arena, where 353 skaters have registered to compete. It’s the first time event organizers stretch the events over several weekends.

Event organizers do not have definite economic impact information from this year’s games, but pre-event estimates put the economic impact to Colorado Springs at $9 million based on past year’s hotel and motel reservations, number of nights athletes and their families spent in town and estimated daily spending by visitors.

“The games were a significant success for our city and our unmatched sports reputation,” said Tom Osborne Sports Corp. president and CEO. “We have seen these unique games grow in popularity and strength over a decade in a highly competitive marketplace, and this version of the event was folded into the busiest and most important summer in Colorado Springs sports history. There has been something for everyone here this summer, and no other city can say that.”

The Rocky Mountain State Games opened in 2002 in Colorado Springs when 2,016 athletes of all ages and skill level competed in 14 sports.

This year, games began July 8-10 with 506 swimmers — 300 more than expected — competing in the state-of-the-art U.S. Olympic Training Center’s aquatics venue.

Next year’s Rocky Mountain State Games will take place during the weekends of July 20-22 and July 27-29, using the same format.

“Our city will be riveted on the athletes, many of them who have lived and trained here, as they chase their dreams at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London,” said Dave Palenchar. Sports Corp. chairman. “We are proud to be the home of the United States Olympic Committee and 22 of our National Governing Bodies, and next summer will showcase that pride.”