News Article Details

Special Olympics softball marks latest local event

Bismarck Tribune - 3/6/2017

March 03--Bismarck-Mandan will host the 2017 Special Olympics North America Softball Championship this summer.

The event, which is expected to draw more than 700 participants and bring about 1,000 visitors to the community Aug. 17-20, was announced during the Bismarck-Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau's annual meeting. This is the first time the event will take place in North Dakota.

Craig Pippert, senior manager of sport development for Special Olympics North America, said 32 teams from across the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean are expected to compete. In addition to the tournament, the public is invited to attend opening ceremonies, including a parade of athletes.

Kathleen Meagher, president of Special Olympics North Dakota, said she believes the event will serve as a "springboard to make Bismarck-Mandan a more inclusive community than it already is."

Meetings and events brought $31.2 million of event spending to Bismarck-Mandan in 2016, said Bismarck-Mandan CVB CEO Sheri Grossman. Of that, $9.8 million came from national and regional visitors, as well as international visitors from at least 13 countries.

The softball tournament is expected to add to visitor spending for 2017 and the attraction of the event to Bismarck-Mandan is part of efforts by the CVB to expand into the sporting events realm.

Another sporting event returning to the community for 2017 is the Optimist International Junior Golf District Qualifying Tournament, which relocated to Bismarck-Mandan from St. Paul, Minn., last year.

The tournament is scheduled for June 16 at Riverwood Golf Course, said organizer Andrew Engelman.

Last year, the tournament brought 47 golfers and about 115 visitors to the community, mostly from around North Dakota, but also from Minnesota and South Dakota, said Engelman, who indicated he'd like to see more than 60 golfers at the event this year and hopes to eventually make it a two-day event.

Among other events coming to Bismarck-Mandan in the coming year is Rocky Mountain International marketing and tourism group's International Roundup.

Grossman said the event brings tourism buyers from about 10 countries to the area to set up events and other international tourist opportunities for the coming year. She said it is expected to result in $12 million in future travel spending to Rocky Mountain International's four member states -- North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

Reach Jessica Holdman at 701-250-8261 or


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