Empire State Games

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Empire State Games
Empire State Games Logo.jpg
Empire State Games Collage.jpg
First eventSyracuse University 1978
Occur everyAnnual
Last event2010[1]
PurposeSports for working people, Sports for disabled people
HeadquartersNew York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation New York, United States

The Empire State Games are a set of annual Olympic-style competitions for amateur athletes from the state of New York, encompassing several divisions and allowing athletes of all ages to compete. It was a member of the National Congress of State Games. The games consisted of a number of competitions:

  • Summer Games (often referred to as the Empire State Games, typically held in late July)
  • Winter Games (often referred to as the Empire State Winter Games, typically held in February)
  • Games for the Physically Challenged (similar to the Paralympics)
  • Senior Games (specifically for athletes age 50 and older)

In 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013 the Empire State Summer Games were cancelled.


Early history[edit]

One of the original organizers of the Empire State Games was Herbert Mols of Buffalo, New York. The first Empire State Games took place at Syracuse University in 1978, the first state games to be held in the United States. The games remained in Syracuse until a delegation from Western New York led by Herbert Mols,[2] Bob Rich, Bob Bedell, Carl Roesch Sr., Dr. Marc Grosso, Gardner Debo, Mark Sternin and Ed Rutkowski brought the Games to Buffalo, New York in 1985 and 1986.

With the success of the first 1978 games, the Empire State Games have sparked the creation of other state games across the country. Before their cancellation, the Empire State Games were the largest state-supported amateur athletic competition in the nation.

The Empire State Games competition was a member of the National Congress of State Games, and was a recognized State Games Program of the United States Olympic Committee.[3]


The 2008 Empire State Games took place from July 23 through July 27, 2008 in Binghamton. The 2009 Empire State Games were cancelled. In 2010 the games were revived and held from July 21 through July 25, 2010 in Buffalo, New York.

Due to a lack of state funding, the 2011 games were discontinued on November 17, 2010.[4] The community of Lake Placid was able to save the winter games.[5] As for the Games for the Physically Challenged, they were able to be saved with the help of Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano and the partnership with dozens of private sector sponsors.[6]

Return of the games[edit]

In 2012 Empire State Sports Foundation (ESSF) was created with the specific goal of rejuvenating the Hugh L. Carey Empire State Games for amateur athletes of New York State. ESSF is a Rochester, New York-based not-for-profit public charity dedicated to the recognition and promotion of competitive excellence among New York State’s amateur athletes, as well as those attributes associated with sports: personal health, fitness, development, education, sportsmanship and teamwork.[7]

The Empire State Summer Games were prepared to return in 2013, but as the ESSF were finding corporate partners, they discovered that corporate sponsors had "been giving any extra funds to Hurricane Sandy relief, leaving little extra room for other worthy causes".[8] The Empire State Games are going to be re-launched in Rochester in the summer of 2014.[9]

Upon hearing that The Empire State Summer Games for 2013 was cancelled Nassau County announced that they will hold the 2013 Games for the Physically Challenged as they have done for the last two years. In an April 2013 press conference, Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano stated, "The 2013 Games would not have been able to happen without the genius donation of $50,000 US dollars by NBTY, Inc. through their Helping Hands Charity." Known locally as the Nassau County Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged, the 2013 games took place May 30 through June 1.[10]

End of an era[edit]

According to media reports April 2014, the Empire State Sports Foundation (ESSF), a Brighton, New York nonprofit organization whose aim to revive the popular Olympic-style summer sports event fueled hope among amateur athletes and media attention across the state, official announced its intention to disband. According to the official papers that were made public, filed in New York State Supreme Court, show that the foundation is insolvent, owing debts topping $158,000 to multiple creditors.[11]


New York State is divided into six regions for the Empire State Games, and each region fields its own athletic teams through tryouts before the games begin.

Regions of the Empire State Games

Summer Games[edit]

There are three divisions in the Summer Empire State Games: open, scholastic, and masters. The scholastic division is for New York State residents who are 17 or younger as of August 31 of the year of the games. Some scholastic division sports have a minimum age of 13 years. The open division is for New York State residents who are 18 years of age or older as of August 31 of the year of the games. The masters division consists of 11 different sports and their age qualifications vary by sport.

Athletic events[edit]

Open and scholastic divisions[edit]

Open and scholastic events:

Open only:

Scholastic only:

Masters division[edit]

The Masters division competes separately from the open and scholastic divisions, but has many of the same events.

Host cities[edit]

Year City Region
1978 Syracuse Central
1979 Syracuse Central
1980 Syracuse Central
1981 Syracuse Central
1982 Syracuse Central
1983 Syracuse Central
1984 Syracuse Central
1985 Buffalo Western
1986 Buffalo Western
1987 Syracuse Central
1988 Syracuse Central
1989 Ithaca Central
1990 Syracuse Central
1991 Albany Adirondack
1992 Albany Adirondack
1993 Rochester Western
1994 Syracuse Central
1995 Ithaca Central
1996 Buffalo Western
1997 Capital District Adirondack
1998 Rochester Western
1999 Long Island Long Island
2000 Binghamton Central
2001 Mohawk Valley Central
2002 Syracuse Central
2003 Buffalo Western
2004 Binghamton Central
2005 New Paltz Hudson Valley
2006 Rochester Western
2007 Westchester County Hudson Valley
2008 Binghamton Central
2009 (event cancelled)
2010 Buffalo Western
2011 (event cancelled)
2012 (event cancelled)
2013 (event cancelled)
2014 Rochester Western

Syracuse played host to the first seven of the games, and in total has hosted the Empire State Games 12 times. Other cities hosting multiple times include Buffalo (4 times), Albany (3 times), Binghamton (3 times), Rochester (3 times) and Ithaca (2 times).

Winter Games[edit]

The Empire State Winter Games are held annually in Lake Placid in the month of February. Most of the events take place at the venues of the 1980 Winter Olympics.


Games for the Physically Challenged[edit]

The Empire State Games for the Physically Challenged is open to athletes between the ages of 5 and 21 in the following divisions: visually impaired, blind, hearing impaired, deaf, spinal cord injury, amputee, cerebral palsy, and les autres (which includes conditions such as muscular dystrophy, dwarfism, and arthritis, among others).


Senior Games[edit]

The Empire State Senior Games is an organized sports competition and leisure program for those age 50 and older which: Provides recreational opportunities. Encourages fitness as a lifelong activity. Promotes the positive image of seniors. Combines sports and games with fitness, fun and fellowship. Advocates true competition in its purest form.


Notable Empire State Games athletes[edit]

Alpine skiing pictogram.svg Alpine skiing

Baseball pictogram.svg Baseball

Basketball pictogram.svg Basketball

Boxing pictogram.svgBoxing

Cycling (road) pictogram.svgCycling

Fencing pictogram.svgFencing

  • Glen Moore, Western

Field hockey pictogram.svgField hockey

Ice hockey pictogram.svgIce hockey

Lacrosse pictogram.svgLacrosse

  • JonJon Castro, Long Island, 1995
  • Matthew Landis, Hudson Valley, 2010

Shooting pictogram.svgShooting

  • Sandra Fong, Long Island
  • Thrine Kane, Long Island
  • Jimmie Perrin, Western, 1995–2010
  • Jason Turner, Western
  • Thomas White, Hudson Valley, 1978–2010

Skeleton pictogram.svg Skeleton

Football pictogram.svg Soccer

Swimming pictogram.svg Swimming

Wrestling pictogram.svg Wrestling

Gymnastics John Orosco, New York City


  1. ^ "Empire State Games - NYS Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation". Parks.ny.gov. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  2. ^ Resiner, Mel (August 11, 1984). "Empire State Games set to open Wednesday". The Evening News. Associated Press. p. 1B. Retrieved September 24, 2012.
  3. ^ "Empire State Games". Pace.edu. Retrieved April 27, 2011.
  4. ^ "Empire State Games canceled, again. Albany blows it, again". Blogs.buffalonews.com. Retrieved 1 November 2010.
  5. ^ "ESWG 2020 - Empire State Winter Games". Empirestatewintergames.com. Retrieved 23 June 2019.
  6. ^ "Mangano Saves Games For The Physically Challenged For Second Year In A Row". Archived from the original on 26 August 2013. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  7. ^ "Official website of the Empire State Sports Foundation". Empirestatesummergames.org. Archived from the original on June 1, 2013. Retrieved November 20, 2012.
  8. ^ "Summer Games Return in 2014". Empirestatesummergames.org. Archived from the original on 1 June 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  9. ^ "2014 Games". Empirestatesummergames.org. Archived from the original on 29 March 2013. Retrieved 13 March 2013.
  10. ^ "Mangano Saves Games For The Physically Challenged For Third Year In A Row". Archived from the original on 26 August 2013. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
  11. ^ Andreatta, David; Johnson, James (17 April 2014). "Empire State Games officially kaput". Democrat & Chronicle. Retrieved 11 January 2015.
  12. ^ [1][dead link]

External links[edit]