City to host 2015 skating competition
Warwick’s Thayer Arena is set to play host to portions of the 2015 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships, which will take place Feb. 25-28, 2015. With an expected 3,000 athletes coming into the area for competition along with families, coaches, officials and spectators, the city can expect a large economic boost in tourism and hospitality.
The announcement was made Tuesday during a press conference at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, a venue that will serve as primary host throughout the competition.
“Our rinks are supportive of these types of events and that allows us to be more enticing to events of this nature,” said Karen Jedson, director of the Department of Tourism, Culture and Development. Jedson, a member of the Rhode Island Sports Commission, will assist with planning logistics, including hotel stays.
It is expected that 4,800 hotel rooms will be reserved statewide due to the competition, and as of Wednesday morning, 1,780 hotel rooms in Warwick alone had already been contracted. Those hotels include The Crowne Plaza, Courtyard by Marriot, Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Holiday Inn Express and the Sheraton.
The bulk of reserved rooms will be located in hotels in Providence, Warwick and Lincoln. Due to many pre- and post-competition opportunities, skaters, families and coaches could remain in the area for up to a week.
“That time of year, late February, is a time that we can really use business around here. It is a great event and a great time of year,” said Jedson.
In addition to working with area hotels to provide blocks of rooms for the competition, Jedson and her office will also work with businesses from every facet of the hospitality industry, from restaurants and retail stores to car rental companies, to prepare for the amount of people expected to come to Warwick.
“Not only will this championship allow our figure skaters to shine and show the world their abilities, it will be an economic benefit to the City and the State as both Warwick and Providence will benefit from hotel rooms and other economic impacts,” said Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian in an email.
The local hospitality industry won’t be the only one to benefit from the state hosting this form of competition. The local skating community will also get the chance to witness a competition of this caliber firsthand. Don McKenzie, a member of the board of the Warwick Figure Skating Club and the Rhode Island Sports Commission, played a critical role in bringing the championship competition to Thayer Arena.
Once U.S. Figure Skating announced that they were seeking sites to host various competitions for 2015, McKenzie went to work submitting paperwork online regarding the area’s size, venues, financing, hospitality and more to show that the area can play host to an event of this nature. U.S. Figure Skating will also look at the area’s history of hosting competitions, going back five to 10 years. Most recently, Warwick served as the host of the New England Figure Skating Championships in fall 2012, and the state had served as the host of the U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships in 2008.
The Warwick Figure Skaters will also have the honor of serving as host club for the event.
“It is another wonderful achievement for the Warwick Figure Skaters. They are the heart and soul of figure skating in Rhode Island, and we are honored to be their host city,” said Mayor Avedisian.
“They got excited about it,” said McKenzie. “A lot of the younger kids get to see the national champions. The top teams in the country will be competing during this.”
McKenzie also believes interest in the sport will grow due to the event being hosted locally.
“Enrollment will pick up. We’ve been a steadily growing organization until recent years; it will be a big help to us,” said McKenzie.