Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

January 09, 2009

Eileen Larrabee
Dan Keefe

State Parks Announces Plan for 2009-10 Empire State Games

Participation Fees, Discontinuation of Certain Events Necessary to Preserve Games for High School and Physically Challenged Athletes, while Addressing Record State Budget Deficits

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation today outlined a plan that preserves the Governor Hugh L. Carey Empire State Games for high school and physically challenged athletes, while also taking necessary action to address an economic downturn that is severely impacting the state budget.

In the 2009-10 fiscal year, participation fees of $285 and up to $100 will be implemented for the Summer and Winter Games, respectively. Previously, there had been no participation fee. The Games for the Physically Challenged will continue to have no participation fee.

In addition, the annual Senior Games, and all Masters, and Open competitions in the Winter and Summer Games, will be suspended for the 2009-10 fiscal year. Certain events and activities for high school athletes and the physically challenged will also be suspended or scaled back, as detailed below.

The changes for the 2009-10 fiscal year are in response to a 10 percent agency spending reduction ordered to help the state address a precipitous reduction in revenues caused by a deep recession. The Empire State Games, which originated in 1978, has operated on an annual budget of $3 million - including $2.7 million in state funding support. State funding support will be discontinued in 2009-10.

"In a time of unprecedented fiscal crisis, the unfortunate reality is that reductions have to be made across every area of government," said Carol Ash, Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. "We have sought to strike an appropriate balance that allows the Games to continue for high school and physically challenged athletes, while also helping the state address its record $15.4 billion deficit."

Looking ahead to the 2010 Summer Games in Buffalo, Ash indicated that the agency would be pursuing private sponsorship with the hope of reinstating the suspended competitions, as well as revisiting the new fee structure.

Further information on the Games is included below:

The Summer Games: July, 2009, Mid-Hudson Valley
A $285 fee for scholastic-level athletes will be implemented. The fee will cover the cost of room, board and local transportation during the four-day event. Scholastic boxing, fencing, and shooting will be suspended for the 2009 summer games.

The Winter Games: February, 2010, Lake Placid
Athletes will continue to pay for their own meals and lodging, as they have traditionally done. The opening ceremonies will also be scaled back. A participation fee of up to $100 will be implemented.

The February 2009 Winter Games will be held as planned with no fee. However, three sporting events will be suspended (bobsled, luge, and skeleton).

The Games for the Physically Challenged: May, 2009, Long Island; October, 2009, Brockport
The Games for the Physically Challenged, for athletes 5-21 years old, will have streamlined activities and events.

Information on the Empire State Games, including details on registration, can be found at

The reduction in state support for the Empire State Games is one of several steps State Parks has taken to address the state's fiscal crisis, including reducing operations at state parks and historic sites, eliminating the 2009 State Park Police academy, instituting a hard hiring freeze, eliminating state support for the Heritage Areas program, and others.