Congratulations are due the team of Nebraskans who succeeded in bringing the 2015 State Games of America to Lincoln.
The event will provide thousands of athletes the chance to participate in an array of competitions, put a new highlight on the summer calendar and provide a boost to the local economy.
Lincoln won the right to host the event in competition with other bidders, including San Diego, which has hosted it in the past.
One selling point in Nebraska's favor was the strong Cornhusker State Games program in Nebraska, and similar strong programs in the surrounding states of Iowa, Colorado, Missouri and Minnesota.
The proximity of those popular programs lends credibility to the predictions that a horde of visitors will flood into Lincoln two years from now.
That estimate of about 18,000 participants includes 12,000 competitors from Nebraska and 6,000 from other states.
Expect a lot of the out-of-state participants to be interested in visits to venues such as the Lincoln Children's Zoo, Strategic Air and Space Museum, Homestead National Monument and so on.
Newspaper coverage of the 2009 biennial event in Colorado Springs provided a typical anecdote about the games' impact. “I was having lunch Friday at a sushi bar … and I saw a table with about a dozen figure skaters,” an event organizer told the Colorado Springs Gazette.
“With 18,000 participants, 5,000 volunteers and 24,000 additional spectators and guests, we could easily see a total of attendance of 47,000,” said Roger Lemke, vice president of the Nebraska Sports Council.
If those predictions hold true, records would be set. The existing record of 10,000 participants was set four years ago. The event this year begins July 31 in Hershey-Harrisburg, Pa.
The 65-page bid prepared by local organizers is proof that planning is well underway. Organizers researched everything from the potential for sponsors to the availability of volunteers to developing a plan for handling medical emergencies.
Deserving kudos for thorough preparation go to Dave Mlnarik, executive director of the Cornhusker State Games; Scott Ash, director of the games; and Jeff Maul of the Lincoln Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Community boosters often throw around the term “vibrant” when they talk about their goals.
When hotels and restaurants start filling up with State Games of America contestants, families and friends two years from now, Lincoln residents will see that term become reality.