The signature event of the West Michigan Sports Commission, the Meijer State Games of Michigan is a multi-sport, Olympic-style event that welcomes athletes regardless of age or ability. The Games embody the values of participation, sportsmanship and healthy living among residents of the state of Michigan. The philosophy of the Meijer State Games of Michigan is that everyone participates regardless of age or ability; everyone is welcome and everyone plays. The Meijer State Games of Michigan is truly a grassroots organization that relies on the dedication of thousands of volunteers and the support of corporate partners.
Like the Olympics, the Meijer State Games of Michigan includes an Opening Ceremonies that allows thousands of spectators to witness the Parade of Athletes, Lighting of the Cauldron and experience great entertainment.
In the inaugural year (2010), the Meijer State Games of Michigan drew over 3,500 athletes from 62 Michigan counties. These athletes participated in 15 sports and were awarded over 1,700 medals. 500 volunteers from all over the state donated their time to help make this year's event a success. Van Andel Arena hosted the Opening Ceremonies in which over 5,000 spectators came to watch the Parade of Athletes, Lighting of the Cauldron, and live entertainment by American Idol Finalist and Michigan Native Matt Giraud.
In the Games second year, there was a 60% increase in sports offerings. This brought the total number of sports to 24. The Games saw a 15% growth in participation. The Opening Ceremonies were held at Fifth Third Ballpark and featured 1984 Olympic archer - Glenn Meyers - lighting the cauldron with a flaming arrow.
In 2012, the Games participation exploded with a 44% increase from 2011 bringing the total number of athletes to almost 5,800. The number of sports offered rose to 31. The Opening Ceremonies were held at East Kentwood High School and featured the American Flag being dropped in by a team of skydivers. An independent economic impact study concluded that throughout the three-day weekend, attendees and athletes put an estimated $2 million into the West Michigan economy.
The fourth year of the Meijer State Games of Michigan saw participation rise to record numbers. 6,521 athletes from across 73 Michigan counties competed in 34 different sports. An estimated $2.7 million in direct spending was injected into the West Michigan community during the three-day event. The Meijer State Games are averaging a 25% growth in participation and economic impact over the past four years. Opening Ceremonies were held at Fifth Third Ballpark and featured 2010 Winter Olympics participant Nick Baumgartner as the cauldron lighter.
The Meijer State Games of Michigan added the inaugural Winter Games to continue fulfilling the mission of being a grassroots organization that welcomes athletes from all ages and abilities. The Winter Games consisted of 12 different sports in which 1,645 athletes participated.
Opening Ceremonies were held Cannonsburg Ski & Ride Area.
The fifth annual Meijer State Games of Michigan increased participation to 6,934 athletes from across 73 Michigan counties. This years games showcased 39 different sports over the three-day event. Any estimated $2.8 million in direct spending was injected into the West Michigan community during the three-day event. New this year was the introduction of the Torch Tour presented by Huntington Bank, to celebration the fifth anniversary of the State Games of Michigan. The Torch Tour consisted of eight different stops all around the state of Michigan. Opening Ceremonies were held at Fifth Third Ballpark and featured 1988 Track & Field Olympian Gary Morgan as the cauldron lighter.
The second annual Winter Games were held Feb. 20-22, 2015 and hosted 18 sports with participation totaling 2,072. This was the first year that Quad Rugby was featured hitting the mission of the Games by "including athletes of all ages and ability levels."
The sixth annual Summer Games were held over two weekends (June 20-21 & June 25-28, 2015) and hosted 41 sports with participation totaling 7,867 athletes. New sports included baseball, tennis and ultrafit. Jack Doles, WoodTV 8 Sports Director, was honored by the State of Michigan (Lt. Gov. Calley) during the Opening Ceremony for his work in sports media - particularly his coverage of the Olympics. Following the presentation, Doles declared the Games open by lighting the cauldron.
The Winter Games main weekend was held Feb. 19-21, 2016 and hosted 19 sports and 2,099 athletes. In 2016, the largest challenge to growth was the unseasonably warm weather. With temperatures in the 50's (in February!), many sports events were postponed or cancelled.
In all, the Winter Games grew slightly over 2015.