York County to host Pa. Special Olympics Winter Games
For thee years beginning in March 2019, York County will play host to Special Olympics Pennsylvania's Indoor Winter Games.
York was selected over eight other areas in the state, including neighboring Hershey/Harrisburg, Lancaster and Chester counties.
The York County Convention & Visitors Bureau estimates the potential economic value of the games to reach $2.5 million over three years.
"It's a great fit," Matthew B. Aaron, president and CEO of Special Olympics Pennsylvania told a small crowd gathered in a large room at the Utz Arena in the York Expo Center.
The same room will be transformed into a floor hockey sports area for the games, while the Utz Arena as a whole will be a makeshift hub for the games, which are expected to draw 650 athletes.
Ice skating, bowling and speed skating are also part of the competition.
York's Ice Arena, Colony Park Lanes North and Lazer Alleys are also venues for the events.
Loretta Claiborne, member of Special Olympics Hall of Fame and York County native, hopes the games show that York is an "inclusive community," she told the crowd today.
Eric Cushing, vice president of marketing and development for Special Olympics Pennsylvania, rattled off a list of economic factors as to why York County will benefit from this two-day event, held usually in the first week of March each year.
"We will fill hotels. We will eat and shop," he said. "It's a significant economic impact."
Proximity of area venues played an important factor why York was chosen, said Gina Reid, senior competition director for the Special Olympics Pennsylvania.
"It's ease of access," she said.
In addition to 2019, the games will also be hosted in York County for 2020 and 2021.
Claiborne, well-known locally in York County and a celebrity in the Special Olympics community, shared how she is still active -- she ran 26 marathons -- in Special Olympics. She loves both floor hockey and figure skating so deciding on which to compete is still up in the air she told the crowd.
"Oh, I'm to have to make that decision," she said.