Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

September 23, 2009

Eileen Larrabee
Dan Keefe

State Parks Announces Plan to Reinstate Empire State Games

Games seek $1 million in private support over next two years; Naming Rights Offered
Partially reinstated state funds, public support, participant fees and cost-cutting measures will allow
2010 Games to take place

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation today announced a plan to reinstate the full slate of the 2010 Hugh L. Carey Empire State Games, including the Summer Games that will be held in Buffalo in July, 2010. A two-year $1 million private fundraising goal is a key part of the four-point plan to put the Empire State Summer Games, Winter Games, Senior Games and Games for the Physically Challenged on solid financial footing, without relying primarily on taxpayer dollars.

"Meeting our fundraising goal is critical to the long-term viability of the Empire State Games program," said State Parks Commissioner Carol Ash, whose agency oversees the Games. "While we are able to ensure that the full slate of 2010 Games will continue, we must adapt to financial realities by creating a more self-sustaining program for future competitions. A $1 million level of private support will establish the foundation to help keep the Empire State Games' flame alive for the coming years."

To reach the goal, State Parks has issued a request for proposals for sponsorships of the Games. The agency hopes to attract a Primary Sponsor, who may be entitled to naming rights, a prominent presence at Games' ceremonies and recognition as "Title Sponsor" in all areas of promotion. The agency is also seeking proposals for subordinate sponsorships, which may be attached to particular classes of competition, such as the Senior Games or may offer promotional opportunities at particular sports or events at the Games. Contributions of in-kind products or services, such as athletic clothing and apparel, sports equipment, lodging and transportation, will also be considered.

"The sponsorship program provides the opportunity for New York's businesses, especially those which support and promote sports and outdoor recreation, to reach a target audience of some of the most active people in the state," said Ash. "We are also hopeful that businesses, groups or individuals that have established connections with the state and its residents will consider support of this uniquely New York program."

In addition, a newly formed Empire State Games Advisory Committee, whose membership includes Ed Rutkowski former Buffalo Bill and State Parks Western District Regional Director, Susan Gordon Ryan, long time supporter of the Games for the Physically Challenged and Dennis Ryan, SPHR, Financial Advisor, NPA Financial Services and Empire State Games volunteer and supporter for more than thirty years. The group will assist in soliciting donations and sponsorships for the Games from private companies, foundations and interested individuals.

Those interested in contributing to the Empire State Games can do so by visiting According to Ash, private fundraising is part of a balanced approach to ensure the four Empire State Games programs will continue in the difficult economic climate. Other steps include:

Implementing $400,000 in broad-based participant fees. All athletes who try out for the Winter and Summer Games will pay a new $10 registration fee. Open division Summer Games athletes will pay a $25 housing fee. Housing and meals will continue to be provided at no charge to Summer Scholastic Division (high school) athletes. However, Open division athletes will, for the first time, be charged $25 to defray part of their housing costs. In addition, the registration fee for Summer and Winter Games Masters division athletes and all participants in the Senior Games will be increased from $25 to $40.

Reducing expenses. The agency expects to save $500,000 by eliminating some competitions, scaling back on special events and programs, reducing clothing for athletes and volunteers, and curtailing equipment and venue rentals. The savings will not compromise the overall quality of the competitions but will reduce total program cost for the Games from over $3 million to $2.5 million, not including administrative and staff support for the Games.

Reinstating state support. New York State will provide $1.7 million over two years, including funding from the New York State Lottery, the Empire State Development Corporation and the General Fund. State Parks will continue to cover the $600,000 annual cost for staffing and administrative support of the Games (also supported by the state's General Fund.).

In addition to the private funding sought by the state, the volunteer Buffalo Local Organizing Committee is asked to raise $350,000 in private support for the Summer Games. These funds are generally used for the activities associated with the opening night ceremony and local promotion.

The Summer Games, which will be held in July, 2010 in Buffalo, draws more than 6,000 athletes in three divisions, Scholastic, Open, and Masters. The Winter Games, held in February in Lake Placid, attracts 1,400 participants in three divisions, Scholastic, Open, and Masters. The Senior Games, held in June in Cortland draws 2,000, and the Games for the Physically Challenged, which take place in May in Long Island and September in Brockport, involves 1,400 participants.

Through the years, many Games' alumni have moved on to national, international and Olympic competition. They include world champions, Olympic gold medalists, college and high school All-Americans, professional athletes in the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL - as well as figure skaters, skiers, soccer players, and many more. Nearly two-dozen former Games' athletes, along with dozens of Games' coaches and officials participated at the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, and a similar number participated at the Winter Olympic Games in Torino.