2001 Special Olympics brought big bucks to Anchorage

Posted: Wednesday, July 03, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The 2001 Special Olympics World Winter Games brought Anchorage some very tangible rewards.

The largest sporting event in Alaska's history ran from March 4 to March 11, and brought $22 million into the Anchorage economy, according to a study by the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

While much of that fueled a short-term boom, improvements to area sports facilities and roads for the games have already helped Anchorage host other major sporting events. The national collegiate ski championships were held in Anchorage earlier this year.

Nearly $7 million in federal funds went to upgrades for the games. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development covered a $1.35 million community center at Hilltop Ski Area and $1.4 million worth of improvements to the chalet and stadium area at Kincaid Park. Federal transportation dollars were used for $2.4 million worth of road improvements in Kincaid.

The games' organizing committee spent about twice what the federal government did to prepare for and stage the games in venues from Eagle River to Girdwood.

The Special Olympics is an organization that promotes athletic events for people with mental retardation. Some 10,000 spectators, coaches, athletes and competitors' family members filled bed and breakfasts, restaurants and retail shops, spending another $5 million, the study found.

The bustle of the games created the equivalent of nearly 400 yearlong full-time jobs, estimated researchers. Beyond the predictable boost in visitor industries such as hotels, construction and communications jobs were generated as well.

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