Liberty’s Va. Commonwealth Games raises $1.6 million for Lynchburg City
Liberty University continues to have a significant impact on the economy of Lynchburg by hosting athletic events such as the Virginia Commonwealth Games, which was hosted last summer.
According to the News & Advance, the athletes and guests to Lynchburg spent a combined total of $1.6 million during their time in the city.
Estimates from Virginia Amateur Sports project the overall economic impact on the state to be $2.5 million.
Liberty hosted the games for the first time in 2016, signing a five-year contract with Virginia Amateur Sports to host the games, according to the News & Advance.
This was the first time the games had been held somewhere other than Roanoke, Virginia, since their inception in 1990.
In the first year, the games hosted just less than 10,000 athletes across all types of sporting events.
Liberty became not only the host, but the title sponsor after the games’ former sponsor Subway decided to step down in early 2015.
Liberty Vice President of Auxiliary Services Lee Beaumont said the university began preparing to present the idea of hosting the games to board members in the summer of 2015.
“We put together an information package and pitched the idea of being the title sponsor for the games to the board of directors,” Beaumont said.
Beaumont said the board was impressed with the idea of having all of the athletic events in one location instead of being spread out across different sites.
“They saw it as an opportunity to bring a centralized location and provide an actual Olympic-like feel for the games,” Beaumont said.
Athletics External Event Coordinator Ernest Carter said having the games at Liberty provides benefits for athletes, the university and Virginia amateur sports.
“It’s great for recruitment, exposure and it benefits the community,” Carter said.
“I see no negatives. I see it being a win-win for everyone involved.”
Carter said people visiting Liberty’s campus are amazed at what Liberty has to offer.
“The people that have never been here before are wowed when they see what we have here and what’s going on here,” Carter said.
Beaumont echoed the sentiment that those who visit Liberty will be impressed with what they see, not only in terms of facilities, but with the people involved with the event.
“It gives us a chance to demonstrate how we are through our actions,” Beaumont said.
“It’s part of what it means to be a Christian (to make sure that) guests walk away with a completely different perspective on who we are and what we’re doing here.”
Beaumont said Liberty has grown accustomed to putting on large events over the past few years, and that experience has helped them to put on events such as the commonwealth games.
“We didn’t have the facilities, infrastructure or the general know-how to pull of something like this five years ago,” Beaumont said.
“With the number of events that we put on here, we’ve gotten really good at all kinds of events all at the same time and do them well.”
Liberty will continue to seek out large athletic events to host with their new facilities.
Beaumont said that Liberty won its bid to host the State Games of America in
As new facilities continue to finish construction at Liberty, more opportunities will be available to host events.
Beaumont said Liberty has already been in talks to host national track-and-field events at the new indoor facility that opened in January and national swimming and diving events at the new natatorium scheduled to open this November.
Beaumont said Lynchburg will become a hot spot for sporting events because of the resources Liberty provides.
“We could put Lynchburg on the map as one of the main areas for sports tourism,” Beaumont said.
“I think this campus can become a major hub for all kinds of athletic endeavors.”
Carter said the commitment of everyone involved with moving the games to Liberty will sustain the success of the event in the future and that God has been faithful to provide these opportunities to the university.
“I have no doubt that this event will continue to grow because of the commitment of the parties involved,” Carter said.
“I’m a firm believer that when God’s hand is in it, he can do things exceedingly and abundantly more than we could ever ask for. I think God’s hand has been in this all the way.”