Planning is accelerating for the first Olympic-level World Beach Games for October 2019 in South Mission Beach.
- More than $40 million in sponsorships is expected to be in hand in the next 60 days.
- About 2,000 athletes from a projected 100 countries will compete in 15 beach and water sports.
- As many as 400,000 people are expected to watch the mostly free events.
- Athletes will stay at motels in Mission Valley, and spectators will get to the venues by shuttle from several offsite parking lots.
Here’s the full story:
San Diego lost the 2028 Olympics to Los Angeles.
But that’s not the end of local Olympic dreams.
South Mission Beach has been named as the site of the first Olympic-level World Beach Games for October 2019, and more than $40 million in sponsorships is expected to be secured in the next 60 days to underwrite the six-day event. It had been originally planned for 2017 but was eventually rescheduled to allow for more time for planning and fundraising.
It could turn out to be the capstone to that year’s 250th anniversary of the founding of San Diego in 1769.
The Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) authorized the concept in 2014 and awarded the first games to San Diego in 2015. A five-member, international working group met in the Gaslamp Quarter last week to iron out the details and begin signing contracts for host hotels and sponsors.
“It may be the biggest sports event we’ve ever had,” said Vincent Mudd, chairman of the ANOC World Beach Games San Diego 2019.
The event, scheduled Oct. 10-15, will present 15 sports, half in the water and half on land with nearly 2,000 athletes expected from as many as 100 countries. As many as 400,000 spectators are expected to attend the largely admission-free events.
The games will cost a fraction of what it would take to put on a summer or winter Olympics games and require no permanent facilities or additional city infrastructure.
Events will take place on the sand and waters off South Mission Beach with temporary stadiums, sponsor booths, portable toilets and other facilities near Belmont Park and around Bonita Cove.
The underwriting will cover the athletes’ transportation to and from San Diego, food, and lodging in Mission Valley hotels. Spectators will take shuttle buses from other satellite parking lots. Cars and trucks will not be permitted south of Mission Bay Drive except for those owned by beach residents and affected businesses.
Already in hand is a $4 million commitment in cash and in-kind technology services from San Diego-based Total Communications.
Its “Spark Compass” augmented reality software will be used up to and during the games for fans to follow the athletes and to navigate around San Diego during their stay. The company has already installed its software at Lindbergh Field and developed a system for tracking luggage through special tags linked to a smartphone app, “Away You Go.”
“Imagine the yellow line at NFL games (superimposed on TV to denote the 1st down line) and putting it on steroids and in everybody’s hands,” said Erik Bjontegard, founder and CEO and a former Qualcomm research and development executive.
Some 1,800 delegates to ANOC’s general assembly are expected to attend their annual assembly at the Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel downtown prior to the games.
“It’s good for San Diego,” said Mudd, who is also the managing partner at the Carrier Johnson + Culture architectural firm. “It’s in our ‘shoulder season’ in October. That’s a good time to attract more tourists to San Diego.”
He said the event also is likely to attract visitors from around the world and major sports and travel press coverage.
The hotelier-run Tourism Marketing District previously gave Mudd’s organizing committee $380,000 to develop the bid for the games but is not being asked, at least for now, for any additional subsidies, he said.
Mike McDowell, executive secretary of the San Diego Sports Alliance and a hotel industry official, called the event a “big deal” for San Diego, and not only because of the spending boost from off-season visitors.
“San Diego will be in a position to attract several similar events to our region well into the future,” he said, “all bringing an additional economic impact when they come.”
The executive director of the games is track-and-field star Willie Banks, who grew up in Oceanside, was on three U.S. Olympics teams and later became the president of the U.S. Olympians Association.
“Everyone around the world that I’ve met, they all say the same thing — what a wonderful place San Diego is,” Banks said. “It’s all about the lifestyle, it’s all about the beach, it’s all about outdoors.”
He said local athletes will likely participate in the competition and visitors will be able to play on temporary structures, such as climbing walls and skateboard courses.
Swedish sports executive Gunilla Lindberg, who was attending last week’s planning session, said San Diego was the obvious place to hold the games since many beach and water sports originated here.
“The atmosphere, the youth — we thought that was the right place,” she said
The beach games originated with a similar all-Asian tournament in 2008, and ANOC President Sheik Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah of Kuwait announced the world games in 2013.
Originally, the SportAccord international sports federations union were going to organize the games in partnership with the national Olympic committees.
But it was switched from Sochi, Russia, to San Diego in 2015 after a falling-out with the International Olympic Committee. The date was switched from 2017 to 2019 and the budget was pared back from $135 million. ANOC hopes the second games will be held in 2021 and every two years thereafter, between winter and summer Olympic Games, and in cities and countries that cannot afford to put on full-fledged Olympic events.
Mudd who had hoped to bring a summer Olympics to San Diego by 2032, said his committee is intending to leave a legacy gift behind for Mission Beach but it has not been decided yet what it will be.
Gary Wonacott, president of the Mission Beach Town Council, said his group has supported the event and been assured that South Mission Beach residents will receive badges or placards to let them access their homes and businesses during the games.
“I’m sure there will be residents who will not be happy with this disruption,” he said. “I think the whole idea is great and would do a lot for the city of San Diego. In general, I think we’re on board.”
ANOC World Beach Games 2019 at a glance
When: Oct. 10-15, 2019
Where: South Mission Beach
Projected attendance: 2,000 athletes, 1,800 ANOC officials, 400,000 attendees
Cost: $40 million-plus. Most events will be free; admission charged at two temporary beach stadiums.
Sports: 15 with 17 disciplines: beach soccer, volleyball, wrestling, handball, karate; surfing and standup paddling; waterskiing and wakeboarding; 3-on-3 basketball; BMX cycling; kite surfing; aquatics (swimming); doubles tennis; park skateboard; sport climbing and bouldering; duathlon (running and swimming).
Article courtesy to The San Diego Union Tribune
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