Lawrence, Kansas: Site of the 2014 Special Olympics USA National Games.
That’s a dream that the local business community, Kansas University and Special Olympics officials are hoping to transform into reality.
At Tuesday’s City Commission meeting, Chris Hahn, director of the Kansas Special Olympics, will discuss a plan that could bring up to 20,000 athletes and volunteers to the area.
While hosting the national games in Lawence would be a boost to the Douglas County Special Olympics, the biggest draw is the potential $40 million pumped into the local economy.
“That wouldn’t hurt,” said Hahn of the event set for July 19-26 in 2014. The national games are held every four years.
Hahn’s been collaborating with KU, which would host many of the sports — such as swimming, basketball and weight lifting — and with the Chamber of Commerce and local government entities in order to present a bid to convince the event committee that Lawrence is the perfect site.
Lawrence Mayor Mike Amyx said the city will work to make the area as attractive as possible for the committee.
“It’s extremely important that we do what we can to bring this type of event to Lawrence,” he said.
The bid will be submitted in October, and Hahn said Lawrence will be up against a handful of other sites. In 2006, the games were held in Ames, Iowa, and this year, the games took place in Lincoln, Neb. Hahn said Lawrence and KU offer a very similar atmosphere that he hopes will bring the games here.
“We think we have something special at KU and in the city of Lawrence,” he said.