ORDA formally commits to Winter Universiade

State Olympic Regional Development Authority President and CEO Mike Pratt speaks Wednesday at the Conference Center in Lake Placid during a presentation on ORDA’s involvement with the Winter Universiade. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

LAKE PLACID — The North Country is one step closer to hosting a major winter sports event.

The board for the state Olympic Regional Development Authority passed a resolution Wednesday that will allow its CEO, Mike Pratt, to sign an attribution contract with the International Sports University Federation (FISU). This contract would create a partnership between and ORDA and FISU for Lake Placid to host the Winter Universiade in 2023. Some sporting events are also supposed to take place around the region in Plattsburgh, Potsdam and Saranac Lake.

The Winter Universiade, also known as the Winter World University Games, is an 11-day international event expected to attract more than 2,500 college athletes from 52 countries in sports such as hockey, figure skating, snowboarding, skiing and curling.

“Today is about us being committed to hosting this event,” Pratt said, “and moving forward officially with World University.”

The attribution contract is set to be finalized and signed Friday.

Lake Placid was the only bidder for the 2023 Winter Universiade, and the village was awarded the title of host city in March. Pratt and many other people involved with bringing the Universiade to Lake Placid said the event will strengthen North Country economics. In a previous interview, Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism President and CEO Jim McKenna said the Universiade would make people want to invest in the future of ORDA facilities and other North Country amenities.

In April, the state committed $62.5 million in its 2018-19 budget to upgrade ORDA facilities. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal, which the Legislature approved, called for “$50 million for a strategic upgrade and modernization plan to support improvements to the Olympic facilities and ski resorts, $10 million for critical maintenance and energy efficiency upgrades, and $2.5 million appropriated from the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation budget as part of the New York Works initiative.”

Venues that could see improvements include the ski jumping complex, the Mount Van Hoevenberg complex for biathlon, nordic skiing and sliding sports, the Olympic Center ice rinks and the U.S. Olympic Training Center, all in Lake Placid; plus the Whiteface, Gore and Belleayre ski centers in Wilmington, North Creek and Highmount, respectively. Saranac Lake might also obtain a curling facility.

McKenna said this investment will modernize and help sustain the region’s economic drivers.

“People are well aware many of these facilities were built in the ’70s,” he said. “They’ve had a tremendous impact to the community for the past 40 years, but if we look at places like Vancouver and Salt Lake, it’s hard for us to compete without updates.”