BCA Member Present for World Games Announcement, Birmingham Wins First World Games for U.S. in 40 Years

Birmingham won the 11th World Games set for 2021 but the first event of the international sport gathering held every four years will take place in 2017.

WGA President Jose Perurena announced today from Lausanne, Switzerland, that the International World Games Association flag will be presented to Birmingham representatives at the close of the 10th World Games in Wroclaw, Poland, on July 30, 2017.

The Alabama’s World Games’ delegation that was present for the announcement included Birmingham attorney David Benck, vice president and general counsel of Hibbett Sporting Goods, a Business Council of Alabama member.

Benck said in a telephone interview that the announcement and planning for 2021 will garner “a tremendous amount of international coverage, great publicity,” for Alabama, not to mention an expected economic impact of more than $250 million.

The World Games traditionally attract thousands of athletes from 100 countries, and spectators.

“This is a large global event held under the auspices of the U.S. Olympic Committee,” Benck said. “It’s a win-win for Alabama and the U.S.”

The World Games are held every four years and include non-Olympic sports. The inaugural World Games were in Santa Clara, Calif., in 1981.

Benck and Alabama Sports Hall of Fame and Museum Executive Director Scott Myers visited the 2013 World Games in Cali, Colombia, which had 500,000 spectators. They saw events and behind-the-scenes operations in order to learn how the games are organized, staged, and what venues would be needed.

After their return to Birmingham, planning began with Alabama Sports Hall of Fame Chairman Edgar Welden, who is president of the World Games initiative.

The World Games 2021 Birmingham Foundation Inc. knew that the Birmingham area with three colleges and Legion Field had the requisite event venues and hotel rooms, and athlete and coach accommodations. Bid efforts culminated today with the announcement.

“I was nervous,” Benck said. “There were two great cities that applied.”

Birmingham won over Lima, Peru, and Ufa, Russia.

Perurena said Birmingham had an excellent bid and he is convinced that Birmingham will exceed expectations. “We are happy to showcase our sports in Birmingham in July 2021, and we are sure that we will be offered optimal conditions for our sportsmen and women there,” he said.

“This is a historic opportunity for Birmingham,” Birmingham Mayor William Bell said. “This is just the beginning, and I’m so thankful to the entire team and everyone who supported the team.”

It would cost about $75 million to host the games, a figure that would include both public and private contributions. The city of Birmingham has committed to $3.5 million if it wins the event.

“The work is just beginning,” Bell said. “I know we can meet the challenge.”

The World Games are under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee and feature competitive athletic events including archery, canoeing, sport climbing, outdoor roller sports, dance sports, men and women tug-of-war, martial arts, softball, handball, powerlifting, underwater sports, lacrosse, water skiing, bowling, sumo wrestling, racquetball, and lifesaving.

The announcement for Birmingham is subject to successful negotiation of contractual conditions and confirmation by the IWGA’s annual general meeting in April, with an agreement to be signed at the conclusion of the annual general meeting, the IWGA announced

-Dana Beyerle