Originally created 07/23/02

Event's future locals unclear



Representatives from more than 40 sports had a chance to prove who the best amateur athletes in the state of Georgia were during the past two weeks.

After the last 2002 Georgia Games Championships gold medal was awarded Sunday, two key questions remained: When will the games be back in Augusta, and where will they go from here?

All that is certain is that next year's Georgia Games will be back in Atlanta, the site of 10 of the past 12 championships. No decision has been made as to where they will be held after that.

If the current rotation is maintained, the championships will remain in Atlanta in 2004 and will return to Augusta in 2005. But the Georgia Games Commission may alter that schedule, just as it did in 1999, when the event was staged outside of Atlanta for the first time in nine years.

Tammy Stout, executive director of the Greater Augusta Sports Council, suggested initiating a four-year pattern that would incorporate cities other than Atlanta and Augusta into the plans. Her proposal places the games in Atlanta every other year, in Augusta every fourth year and somewhere else the other year.

"The games should rotate around the state of Georgia," Stout said. "We need to begin a regular rotation around the state to really educate all the counties. We'll be looking at it again in the fall."

As far as this year's games went, most organizers were pleased with the overall success of the event.

"We wanted to make sure people from out of town got a positive image of athletics in Augusta, and we think we accomplished that," said Georgia Games Championship Manager Scotty McDuffy.

The expansion of the games from five to 10 days made it tougher on volunteers and organizers, McDuffy said, but allowed spectators a chance to view a wider array of sports.

Stout listed ice hockey and ice skating as two sports that the Georgia Games Commission may introduce in the future. With the NHL Atlanta Thrashers debuting in 1999 and a rising statewide minor league hockey presence, ice sports have grown more popular in Georgia in recent years.

Reach Lane Kramer at (706) 823-3425.



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