From the Adirondack Daily Enterprise

State cancels Empire State Games
November 16, 2010 - By CHRIS KNIGHT, Enterprise Senior Staff Writer

The budget axe in Albany has claimed another victim.

The state has cancelled next year's Empire State Games, including the Winter Games, which have been held in Lake Placid each February for more than 20 years. The Empire State Summer Games, Games for the Physically Challenged and Senior Games have also been called off, several sources told the Enterprise.

The website for the Empire State Games was down Tuesday. A spokesperson for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, which runs the games, referred questions to the state Division of Budget.

DOB spokesman Erik Kriss wouldn't say whether the games had been cancelled and declined to comment when asked why the website was down. He said the state is in the process of determining what Parks Department employees will be laid off as part of Gov. David Paterson's plan to achieve $250 million in workforce savings included in the 2010-2011 budget.

"Until final layoff notices go out on Dec. 10 we will not know exactly what positions are affected and won't be able to comment on the impact to specific programs or services," he said.

While that's what the state is saying publicly, the decision to cancel the games has already been made, mulitple sources confirmed to the Enterprise Tuesday.

Ken McInerny, the games' Central Region Director, said the news that the games were being cancelled was delivered by state ESG staff to the games' regional directors in a 1 p.m. conference call Tuesday.

"I'm just kind of absorbing it," he said. "Apparently there was no money put in the budget for it. The outgoing administration didn't have any interest in continuing it and I don't know if the incoming administration knows anything about it."

The news had reached officials in Lake Placid by mid-afternoon Tuesday.

"I heard it through the rumor mill, then I basically called the Empire State Games office in Albany and confirmed it," said James McKenna, president and CEO of the Lake Placid Convention and Visitors Bureau. "The state is recognizing that it still has to make some tough decisions and I guess they're starting to make them."

Town of North Elba Supervisor Roby Politi called it "a disappointing sign of the times."

"It's not only unfortunate for Lake Placid, it's unfortunate for the young athletes of New York State," he said. "It was a wonderful event. It's too bad it's lost. I just hope that the cutting stops soon."

McKenna said he got the impression that the games may not just be cancelled not just for next year, but permanently.

"They're talking about eliminating positions in state parks and reassigning people," McInerny said. "If they're dismantling the state staff and sending them elsewhere, I think the chances of it coming back at all are pretty remote. The fact that they took down the website says an awful lot."

"My guess is it would be more of a chance of it being permanent than not," Politi added. "The fact is that it's probably going to take a few years for the economics of New York State to change."

The Empire State Games is an Olympic-style competition for amateur athletes from different regions across the state: Adirondack, Central, Hudson Valley, Western, New York City and Long Island. Launched by former Gov. Hugh Carey, the first summer games were held in 1978.

This isn't the first time the state has put the Empire State Games on the chopping block due to budget problems. In 2009, the summer Empire State Games were cancelled due to a lack of state funding.