By Cleve Bryan
WEST WINDSOR TWP, NJ (CBS) – From spraying lines on the soccer fields to trimming the baseball diamonds and setting up dozens of tents, preparations are almost complete at Mercer County Park to be one of 10 venues hosting the Special Olympics USA National Games.
The event, which is hosted at a different location across the country every four years, is expected to draw more than 80,000 people to Mercer County.
“Now, it’s crunch time where we’re getting ready here. We have close to 10,000 volunteers that are assisting us with putting these games together for the 3,500 athletes that are coming from all over the United States,” says Lillian Narvaez, the chief operating officer for the 2014 USA Games.
According to the organizing committee, this is the largest national games undertaking ever in the U.S. and will include 16 different sports competitions for people with intellectual disabilities.
Events will take place 10 different locations including Princeton University, Rider University, The College of New Jersey, Mercer County Park and several private schools in the area.
“We want to make sure that people all over the country know that New Jersey can run a national event such as this and that we’re ready,” says Narvaez.
Experts say this is one of the largest events the region has ever seen and estimates on the economic impact range from 50 to more than 100 million dollars.
“It is terrific; it’s a week-long, you have people staying in the hotels, eating at restaurants, shopping at our stores,” says Adam Perle, the vice president of the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce.
He says the business community was involved in courting the Games when they were awarded to New Jersey in 2010.
“This is a great thing for the state of New Jersey, for the Princeton region, to really showcase how we can welcome and host a national event,” says Perle.
The opening ceremony will take place Sunday, and all the details about the games can be found at www.2014specialolympics.org.
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