The Bluegrass State Games was founded in 1985 by Governor Martha Layne Collins and has been going strong ever since. Their sole mission is to “promote amateur athletics across the Commonwealth.” I can remember when I played soccer in high school, we would go to the games every year and whether we won or lost, it was always a blast to just be there. The games were always an important stop on our game schedule and everyone looked forward to the trip to Lexington.
So, what do the games do for Lexington and how does it benefit the community you might ask? First and foremost, you have to think of it as a tourism gig, like the equestrian games. It brings in multitudes of families from across the state into Lexington. Therefore, all of the hotels, restaurants, malls, and other businesses are benefiting greatly from the “tourism” aspect of the games. Overall, it’s bringing in business and profits to the Lexington area.
So think of it this way: the Bluegrass State Games is a non-profit organization, so they don’t gain any profit from their program, but they do generate a profit for the community as a whole. Say you’re a family with a child participating in the games. There are many factors that generate profit in this situation. For starters, the schools will more than likely provide a hotel room for the child (this is the first profit that BGSG has created for the community). You are that child’s parents so you in turn would like to go and watch your child play, so now you too have to purchase a hotel room (profit number 2). With all of these people coming into town, the hotels can also raise their rates to generate a greater profit. Now, these families and their children have to eat and if they are anything like my family, they treat it as a vacation and go to a sit down restaurant as opposed to fast food (profit number 3). There’s also a good chance that many families will visit the mall while in town too (possible profit number 4). And finally, whatever is bought at the games is the final profit. In many ways, BGSG promotes business and tourism within the city generating more revenue for the city itself.
Overall, I don’t know any statistics or numbers for proof that BGSG does amazing things for the city of Lexington, but it is apparent when you are out and about on the weekend of the games. The mall is packed, restaurants are packed, you couldn’t get a hotel room if you tried, and you’ll see more than your fair share of school children from elementary to high school running around in uniform. There is much to be said for what the games do for this community that we don’t even realize. So, check your schedules for the next games and try to attend some, they’re more than just fun.