For the first time ever, SUNY ESF gets the chance to host the U.S. Collegiate Athletic Association Cross Country Championships. The two day event brought in hundreds of student athletes and their families and as our Candace Hopkins reports, the economic impact was immediate.
ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- More than 500 runners braved a wet, chilly day Friday to take part in the 2013 Cross Country Championships. This year, SUNY ESF got their first chance to host the event. And while their athletes may be used to this weather, some visitors were in for a shock.
"It's Syracuse, it's beautiful, this is home field advantage right here. We've got teams from Florida coming. Maybe they aren't used to this,” said SUNY ESF Coordinator of Athletics Dan Ramin.
Teams from over 50 schools hit the course, all looking to take down the host. ESF has won the men's race for the past two years. And Friday, in front of a home crowd, they added yet another title, led by senior Tim Callahan.
"It was a tough course, definitely the toughest we've run on all year, but we had our fan base here, which was really encouraging. There was pretty much nowhere around the course where I didn't hear 'go ESF' or something, so it really pushed me through”, said Callahan.
And the race will be back again next year. Tourism officials say that's great news for Central New York. Events like these not only bring in large groups of athletes, but their families as well. In turn, Syracuse Convention and Visitors Bureau representative Jeff Mickle says the economic impact is large.
"Economically the estimated travel spending is about half a million dollars for an event of this size. I think it's great for the community, it just gives us another opportunity to bring in more events like this and ESF doesn't only do cross country, they have a pretty active sports program, just like SU does events, Le Moyne, OCC, now ESF is in that game, too and the community should appreciate it, because it does have a valuable economic piece,” said Mickle.
And the event is helping to introduce SUNY ESF's sports programs to the local community as well. The school added athletics just five years ago and is excited to showcase how their teams continue to grow.