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Sports Events the Cornerstone of our Summer Economy

By Editorial, Lake Placid News, 08/31/16, 1:30PM EDT

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We don't have to be reminded how busy it's been this summer, yet we're glad the Summit Lacrosse Tournament folks reminded us this week that the big sports events that fill our village during the warm season are good for business.

In fact, that is our business. Tourism, hospitality, it's what we do, and the Olympic Region does it extremely well.

So well that after 26 years, the Summit Lacrosse Tournament - traditionally held in early August - debuted the Youth Summit Classic in June for its 27th year. It was a welcome addition to the calendar.

Likewise, the Ironman Lake Placid triathlon in July - a full 140.6-mile race that's been here since 1999 and is considered the gold standard of Ironman races - will have some company in 2017 when an Ironman 70.3 race will be added to the calendar in September.

These event organizers know that Lake Placid is a world-class venue that draws attendance, not just because of the name "Lake Placid" but because of our venues, scenic beauty, recreational and cultural activities and small-town atmosphere.

Over and over, in our Visiting Voices feature, we hear from visitors about how much they like Lake Placid, and many of them credit the friendly people - their hosts - for the high quality of their stay here. Organizations such as Ironman and the Summit Lacrosse Tournament know this as well, and that's one of the reasons they keep coming back.

The major summer events - Lake Placid horse shows, Ironman, Can-Am Rugby, skating competitions, hockey camps and Summit Lacrosse - are all economic engines during this crucial time of the year. They go on, rain or shine. And they bring thousands of people and millions of dollars into the economy. Some groups, such as the Ironman Foundation, even give back to the community by donating money to nonprofit groups.

In August, the Summit Lacrosse Tournament brought more than 250 teams to town in a variety of age groups. In June, there were 30 youth teams. Add the families that tag along, and you've got thousands of people coming to town spending money in shops, attractions, restaurants and hotels.

"It's notable that many of our participants return year after year," Summit Lacrosse Tournament organizer George Leveille said in a press release. "And while many began participating as single, young adults, many now have families who accompany them making this a vacation-oriented event. It's no secret that the many attractions that Lake Placid has to offer adds tremendous value to the overall experience of our participants."

According to the press release, the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism calculated that both lacrosse events brought in about $6 million in direct spending. And that's just one organization.

"The Summit Lacrosse program supports the region's recreational sports brand, and rounds out Lake Placid's status as a national sports center," said James McKenna, president of ROOST. "With the addition of the new youth tournament in June, the event's value as an economic driver is complemented by its continued ability to introduce new markets to the Adirondacks, and create lifelong destination ambassadors."

Leveille made a great point when saying that his tournament is a "vacation-oriented event." That's the key to producing an event that boosts the local economy. Hold something that brings people here for a weekend or an entire week, not just a day. The calendar is full of events like this.

For example, the Lake Placid Marathon and Half, which is a Sunday event in early June, is a vacation-oriented event. More than 1,000 athletes come with their families and make a vacation out of the experience every year.

Across the entire state of New York, there's really no comparison to what's happening here. Not only is Lake Placid New York's Olympic Village, it is New York's leading sports town and a leader in international sports. We are extremely proud to have these sporting events here, and we wish them all the best of luck in the future.

Thanks to the Summit Lacrosse Tournament and all the major sporting event organizations that have made Lake Placid their home during the summer. And thanks to the local businesses and residents for being gracious hosts.