- change ups
Winter Games descends into West Michigan
The sponsors are aboard, the sports and most of the venues are set and the chairman of one of the area’s most successful businesses sees the games as a spirited pride builder.
Meijer is serving as the lead sponsor for the inaugural state Winter Games, which will feature a baker’s dozen of sports that will be played throughout the city, beginning on Valentine’s Day and running through Feb. 16.
The event by the West Michigan Sports Commission "evokes such a strong sense of community and state pride" in athletes and spectators, said Doug Meijer, chairman of Meijer.
“We’re excited to sponsor this event, as it gives spirited athletes another opportunity to build character and practice sportsmanship,” added Meijer.
An estimated 2,000 amateur athletes from across the state are expected to participate in a variety of sports: basketball, BMX indoor racing, bowling, fatbike races, racquetball, indoor rowing, speed skating, snowboarding, skiing, snowball softball, snowshoeing, ice hockey and wrestling.
Eleven venues are lined up to host this mini-version of the Winter Olympics, including five ice arenas for the hockey competition. A few more need to be finalized for some of the events. But Cannonsburg Ski & Ride Area in Belmont will serve as the games’ anchor site, where the event’s opening ceremony and an exhibition of professional skiers and snowboarders will take place.
“We see this as an incredible opportunity to bring our already wildly successful event series to a wider audience, providing one massive weekend of ski and snowboard competition,” said Marc Moline, marketing director at the Cannonsburg Ski & Ride Area.
In addition to Cannonsburg and Meijer, Metro Health, MyWay Mobile Storage, Alliance Beverage Distributing, MC Sports, Mercantile Bank, SIBSCO, Heglund-Sova Realty, The GR Shop, Central District Cyclery and Velo City Cycles are also sponsors.
Meijer State Games of Michigan
The last summer games grew to 34 sports and more than 6,500 athletes, who came here from 73 counties in the state.
The last June weekend was worth $2.7 million to the local economy, and the first February weekend is expected to generate $500,000 for local businesses.
“The Winter Games will provide a year-round incentive for Michigan residents of all ages and abilities to stay active,” said Eric Engelbarts, executive director of the Meijer State Games of Michigan, who will be honored tonight as one of the Business Journal’s 40 Under Forty.