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Athletic assetsSummer, senior games generate millions for local economy

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Participants in the 2012 Pennsylvania Senior Games compete in shuffleboard July 24 at the Friendship Center in Lower Paxton Township, Dauphin County. Photo/Amy Spangler
Participants in the 2012 Pennsylvania Senior Games compete in shuffleboard July 24 at the Friendship Center in Lower Paxton Township, Dauphin County. Photo/Amy Spangler

The old saying goes like this: You have to spend money to make money.

That's been especially true for the Hershey Harrisburg Regional Visitors Bureau in recent years as it has pushed aggressively to bolster the local economy through large-scale sporting events.

Playing to the region's strengths — proximity to major highways and several popular tourist attractions in Hershey,

Harrisburg, Lancaster and down to Gettysburg — the bureau has bid and won contracts to bring major amateur athletic sports festivals here.

For starters, the bureau secured a three-year contract from 2011 to 2013 to bring the Keystone State Summer Games back to this area after the event left in 1998 following six consecutive years.

This year's Pennsylvania Senior Games also was awarded to the Hershey-Harrisburg region along with the 2013 State Games of America.

To further add to the region's appeal as a hotbed for sports, the bureau this week announced its partnership with Wilkes-Barre-based Keystone State Games Inc., the nonprofit event producer, has been extended through 2014 to include the summer and senior games.

"To tie in something else that is a Pennsylvania tradition, it reinforces our growing brand as a sports destination," said Rick Dunlap, a bureau spokesman, citing the region's history and growing portfolio of PIAA championship events and the Big 33 football classic.

And new proposals on the table for multisport complexes, including a Dauphin County one in the feasibility study phase, should only add to the region's stable of sports venues and enhance economic activity, bureau and nonprofit officials said.

The combined summer and senior events this year — July 23 to Aug. 5 — are expected to generate local economic impact of $5.5 million, Dunlap said.

Officials based this year's projections on the economic impact of $5 million realized in 2011 during the summer games.

• $21 million: The projected regional economic impact of the Keystone State Summer Games and Pennsylvania Senior Games, 2011-14. The State Games of America in 2013, which will run at the same time as the summer games, will only add to this number.

• $150,000 to $200,000: The projected bid cost annually to host the events put on by the Keystone State Games.

• 6,000: The number of athletes involved in the 2012 Keystone State Summer Games and Pennsylvania Senior Games.

• 12,000: The number of visitors tourism officials project the 14-day summer and senior games, considered the largest amateur athletic festival in Pennsylvania, will attract when families, spectators and event staff are factored in.

• 23 and 21: The number of sports and sites used to stage the Keystone State Summer Games. The list includes Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex and Expo Center, Metro Bank Park, Twin Ponds, ABC East Lanes and Lower Dauphin's field hockey complex.

• 20 and 12: The number of sports and sites, respectively, used to stage the Pennsylvania Senior Games. The Friendship Center in Lower Paxton Township is one of the venues.

• 10,000+: The number of athletes expected to participate next year between the Keystone State Summer Games and the State Games of America.

Bureau officials said they recognize that bid fees have become the cost to being competitive in securing big events. The bureau would not disclose the actual fee agreement.

"The annual economic impact for the region and what hosting this level of competition does for reinforcing the region's growing brand identity as a sports event destination is worth the fee," Dunlap said.

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Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin County. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal. Circle Jason Scott on .

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