Grand Rapids will soon be a happening place for athletes and sports fans alike. West Michigan is poised to host the 2017 State Games of America Aug. 3-6 for the first time in Michigan. About 12,000 athletes from 47 states, the District of Columbia and Canada are expected to attend the 60-event, 48-sport festival. An opening ceremony is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 4 at Van Andel Arena. A parade of athletes will be led by Grand Marshal Greg Meyer, Grand Rapids resident and the last American male runner to win the Boston Marathon prior to 2014. A tribute to the Michigan State Police and recognition of nine Michigan Olympians will also take place, along with the lighting of the cauldron and a laser light show. “This opening ceremony will be like nothing hosted in Grand Rapids before,” said Eric Engelbarts, event director of the 2017 State Games of America in a press release. “Ticket holders will be treated to Olympic-style fanfare, from the impressive Parade of Athletes to a nationally-renowned trampoline act. We urge people to buy tickets now before it sells out.” In addition to the opening ceremony, spectators can enjoy Athlete Village at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids Friday, Aug. 4 from 4 to 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public and will feature food trucks, a photo booth and games including 4D virtual reality, foot darts and double-shot basketball. Want in on the fun? State Games organizers recommend getting involved by:
- Competing. All Michigan residents are eligible to compete without pre-qualifying. Online registration ends Aug. 1 for most events. Find registration information for each sport here.
- Watching. Grab a spectator pass for access to special events and all sports venues or a super pass, which also includes opening ceremony entry for one spectator and one athlete, plus discounts at participating restaurants. Find ticket info here.
- Volunteering. Approximately 1,000 volunteers are needed to support the State Games of America. Find out how you can help here.
The West Michigan Sports Commission, Experience Grand Rapids and Meijer State Games of Michigan partnered to bid on and host the 2017 State Games of America, beating out several other cities. The event is expected to draw a total of 25,000 attendees and generate $10 million in estimated economic impact in the region. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is a sponsor of the 2017 State Games of America. If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
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Photo credit: Mark Bonica