State cancels 2011 Empire State Games

LAKE PLACID - Officials announced this week that the 2011 Empire State Games have been canceled due to the state's ongoing fiscal crisis.

Winter Games administrator Lisa Del Signore sent a letter to athletes informing them that the winter, summer, and senior games - as well as the games for the physically challenged - have been canceled because of New York's $9 billion budget gap.

The winter games were scheduled to take place in Lake Placid in late February, while the summer games were set for Rochester in late July. The popular annual sporting events are run by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The Poughkeepsie Journal, which broke the story, reports that Del Signore's letter said the agency has been told by the Paterson administration that there will be no state funding for the games.

"Perhaps in the future the economic climate will improve and the games will experience a rebirth," she wrote.

Jim McKenna is president and CEO of the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism. He notes the winter games attract more than 1,000 athletes to the Lake Placid area and estimates the event has at least a $1 million economic impact on the region.

"When you have a thousand athletes and their families here, it does have a very positive economic impact, well over $1 million," he said. "We haven't sat down yet and refigured the numbers, although we have done it in the past."

McKenna is disappointed with the state's decision to pull the plug on the games, noting that it will be tough to find a way to make up for the loss of revenue.

"It hasn't been the kind of year where we can in-fill with other business - but that's not really what we're looking at right now," McKenna said. "I think from the point of view of a sport event of this magnitude not moving forward is something of more concern right now. I think there's a way we can put our heads together and come up with a plan for the future."

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