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Buffalo's Empire Games leave a legacy

The 2010 Empire State Games in Buffalo were so successful that they have left a legacy -- measured in dollars, scholarships and even seed money for future competitions in case the Games make another comeback.

The local organizing committee made a profit of about $125,000, mostly from ticket sales for the opening ceremonies and the competition, and all of that has been reinvested in Western New York in various ways through the Buffalo Legacy fund.

"I always said that if we had any extra money, it should go back to the community," Ralph Galanti, the chairperson of the local organizing committee for this summer's Games in Buffalo, said. "We're very proud of the community and this is a thank-you."

Organizers will announce more details at a news conference at 3 p.m. this afternoon at Pettibone's.

Included will be:

*$50,000 devoted to annual scholarships given to prospective college students who have had some tie to the Games and who are attending college in Western New York.

*A $50,000 fund aimed to help the Buffalo Niagara Convention and Tourism Bureau's Buffalo Niagara Sports Commission attract athletic events to the area.

*A $15,000 contribution to the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame -- one of the 2010 Games' earliest supporters -- to be used for sponsorship of candidates to the Hall who have had ties to the Empire Games;

*$10,000 in seed money for possible future Empire Games in Buffalo. A $1,000 fund has also been set aside to pay for the Western Region's oldest participants for a decade.

The 2010 Games were the first held after the cancellation of the 2009 event and were highly successful, thanks to local corporate sponsorship led by First Niagara. The 2011 Games, scheduled for Rochester, were canceled after the state gutted the portion of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation that ran the ESG program.

Rochester's local organizing committee and the Monroe County Sports Commission are currently studying what it would take to hold the Games with private sponsorship.

Lake Placid, which annually hosts the smaller Winter Games, is going on with plans for that event.

e-mail: kmcshea@buffnews.com

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