More than 800 veterans from across the country and nearly an equal number of their guests will be coming to Buffalo in 2013 for the National Veterans Golden Age Games.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and VA Western New York Healthcare System announced Wednesday that Buffalo was selected from a field of four VA medical centers competing to host the games.
The economic spinoff from having approximately 1,500 people in town for the six days of games, beginning May 30, 2013, is expected to bring more than $2 million into the local economy.
"VA Western New York Healthcare System is proud that Buffalo was selected to host the 2013 National Veterans Golden Age Games," said Jason C. Petti, the Buffalo VA's interim medical center director. "Veterans from across the nation will experience all of what Buffalo and Western New York have to offer in addition to competing in various sporting events."
In order to participate in the games, U.S. military veterans must be at least 55 years old and receive care at a VA medical facility. There are three divisions: ambulatory, visually impaired and wheelchair, based on ages.
Events will include swimming, cycling, golf, horseshoes, bowling, shot put, discus, croquet, dominoes, air rifle, nine-ball and table tennis. Several venues in the area have been scouted out, according to Evangeline Conley, the VA's spokeswoman.
"We're looking at [Erie Community College], LaSalle and Delaware parks and the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center," she said.
Mike Even, vice president of sales for Visit Buffalo Niagara, said the games will create a substantial demand for hotel rooms.
"The games will bring 5,250 hotel room nights and an estimated economic impact of $2.16 million to our community," Even said.
Efforts to land the games, he added, represented four years of work.
"[Our] Sports Commission will continue to assist the local organizing committee as we prepare to welcome these honorable men and women to our community in 2013," Even said.
Additional details regarding community support of the events, including sponsorships and volunteer opportunities, will be announced in the future, Conley said.