24 Hour News 8 web staff -
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) -- In 100 days, Grand Rapids will become the first city in Michigan to ever host the State Games of America.
The Olympic-style event, happening Aug. 3-6, will feature 12,000 athletes from 50 states plus Canada.
"Downtown will be buzzing, the whole county will feel the wrath of this event at some point," said Eric Engelbarts, event director for the State Games of America. "With 60 different events happening all at the same time, just like the Olympics, there are going to be people everywhere."
Organizers expect the 4-day event to generate $10 million to the local economy. So far, 5,500 hotel rooms have been booked at hotels from Kalamazoo to Big Rapids, according to a release from the State Games of America.
"Between all of our sponsors and all the volunteers coming together it's just huge, but the underlining tone there is the economic impact and the people coming in and they're spending their money," said Engelbarts.
Van Andel Arena and DeVos Place are two main venues for the event, but the games will be spread out over 35 venues in West Michigan. The State Games of America will feature a total of 60 events in 48 sports.
The national competition will operate in place of the annual Meijer State Games of Michigan. Although most out-of-state athletes must qualify by winning gold, silver or bronze medals in their respective State Games, all Michigan athletes can compete without first qualifying in a State Games event.
"DeVos Place will actually host 13 of the sporting events so athletes and spectators that come here and walk into the exhibit hall or the ballroom they're going to be wowed," said Engelbarts. "It's going to be awesome, there's going to be so much going on, we really have something for everybody."
The opening ceremony will kick off the games at the Van Andel Arena on Aug. 4.
----------------Online: State Games of America
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