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Aurora Games In The Books, Will Return In 2021

Katelyn Ohashi
Courtesy of the Aurora Games
Retiring gymnast Katelyn Ohashi scored 10.0 on her floor exercise routine at the Aurora Games.

The first Aurora Games wrapped up last night in Albany. The women’s sports competition will return in 2021 and 2023.

The six-day international sporting competition and entertainment festival saw female athletes from across the United States and around the world gathered in Albany. Mayor Kathy Sheehan says she really enjoyed the competition.  "It was something new. I think people didn't know what to expect, and now that they know what this is all about and the caliber of the athletes that we saw over the course of six days, I think will really create the buzz and interest that will be needed when they come back in 2021 to fill the Times Union Center and any other facility that they may choose."

Credit WAMC photo by Jesse King
Albany County Executive Dan McCoy; General Manager of Times Union Center Bob Belber.

Named in honor of the Roman goddess of the dawn, the Aurora Games featured tennis, gymnastics, basketball, ice hockey, fire skating, and beach volleyball at the county-owned Times Union Center. Albany County Executive Dan McCoy:   "This really means a lot for Albany County. The fact that we were on ESPN and represented around the world and you had over 20 countries participating in this event and over 100 athletes from around the world, says a lot."

Times Union Center General Manager Bob Belber says a little over 20,000 people attended.    "The event, as it was being presented and the expressions on the faces of those little girls that were watching, so inspired, was just the highlight for me, just to see how it made a difference to them and as they probably compete in sports as they get older and move on, that's what this event is about. This event should be about the empowerment and celebration of women's sports."

Belber says there will be likely be tweaks to enhance the games when they return in 2021.    "When you do something for the first time, you're always going to see some things that you would have done differently if you had another opportunity. And so we're in the same boat. We've been taking notes throughout the six days, and there are a number of things that you know we've made as suggestions to the producer of the event for how we would recommend changes, and even the ordering in which the sports take place. That's one of the big things that I would be pushing for in the future, so that we could potentially have the ice events take place first, and then pull the ice out of the building and have the rest of the sports, be able to be presented on concrete rather than on ice."

Belber says they're also re-evaluating the dates the event will be held. While Belber likes the idea of summer games that could potentially expand to outdoor sporting events, others, like McCoy, believe the school year might be a better way to go.  "We really gotta talk about what really works, is it September-October, is it March? Do we tie it in to the Freihofer's Run For Women? The thing is we have two years and now people understand it, and some of the things we got feedback was a lot of people said they didn't know that it was going on, so we gotta talk about a little bit better communication."

McCoy adds prospects are falling into place for building a women's athletic training facility in the county before the games return. No specific sites are under consideration yet.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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