5 Reasons Grand Rapids Won the Bid to Host the State Games of America

The West Michigan Sports Commission, Experience Grand Rapids and Meijer State Games of Michigan hosted the National Congress of State Games (NCSG) Annual Symposium Oct. 13-15, 2014 at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. This alone was an honor, yet the stakes were even higher as our three organizations presented to the NCSG board why Grand Rapids deserved to host the 2017 State Games of America.

In the weeks following the event, I pieced together why the Grand Rapids bid was successful (some of these reasons also were noted in the Nov. 9 MiBiz article, “Hosting State Games of America bolsters West Michigan’s sports appeal”) – and if you asked the NCSG board of directors, I believe they would agree:

1.       Our Local Sports Organizing Committees Showed Passion

During the State Games of America site visit, the NCSG site selection committee was able to meet almost all of the 40+ local sports organizing committees at the welcome reception. During this time, the Meijer State Games tournament directors were able to show how much they embraced the Meijer State Games and how hard they would work to ensure the State Games of America athletes had a world class experience in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

2.       We Listened During the Site Visit

When bidding on a national event such as the State Games of America, there is a process – and this one entailed submitting a letter of intent followed by a written proposal, hosting a site visit and making a presentation. Each one of these rounds gave the NCSG the ability to drop cities that wouldn’t be an appropriate host for the event. As the West Michigan Sports Commission progressed through this process, we listened to NCSG feedback and made changes to the bid along the way. From when we submitted our written bid to when we made our final presentation, the bid looked and felt almost completely different – all based on the NCSG’s suggestions.

3.       We Gave Them the “WOW” Factor

One item that made a major impression on the selection committee was that Grand Rapids is able to host more than 40+ sporting events in three regional areas: downtown Grand Rapids, Rockford and Kentwood. In downtown Grand Rapids, the Van Andel Arena will play host to the Opening Ceremonies. DeVos Place Convention Center will host 10+ sporting events as well as an athlete village of vendors, hospitality rooms and a stage set for awards ceremonies, musical acts, etc. When an athlete walks into DeVos Place, they will feel the power of “WOW.”

4.       The West Michigan Sports Commission Board of Directors

During the site visit, a lunch was held for the NCSG site visit committee with the West Michigan Sports Commission board of directors, giving NCSG officials a chance to meet representatives from some of the most influential organizations in West Michigan. The conversation centered on what a successful State Games of America event would look like and how the West Michigan Sports Commission could make their dream a reality. As I found out later, this was one of the most impactful takeaways from the NCSG site visit.

5.       Grand Rapids Supports Public/Private Partnerships

As West Michigan Sports Commission President Mike Guswiler stated, “Our community continually supports public/private partnerships, which helped form the West Michigan Sports Commission and our success in promoting sports tourism. This support is also reflected in our successful Meijer State Games of Michigan…” The Meijer State Games of Michigan is funded through registration fees and support of the West Michigan corporate community, and we were able to show how that support will translate to hosting a successfully funded State Games of America in 2017.

Eric Engelbarts
Guest Blogger
Eric is executive director of the Meijer State Games of Michigan, a signature event of the West Michigan Sports Commission