Monday, July 22, 2024
Home » News » Local News » Centre County to Host 2026 State Games of America

Centre County to Host 2026 State Games of America

A national, Olympic-style sports festival is coming to Happy Valley.

Centre County will play host to the State Games of America July 28 to Aug. 2, 2026, the Happy Valley Sports and Entertainment Alliance (HVSEA) announced with the National Congress of State Games and the Keystone State Games on Tuesday.

The event is expected to draw more than 8,000 amateur athletes competing in more than 30 sports. Like the Ironman 70.3 Pennsylvania Happy Valley, the State Games of America it marks another effort by local tourism leaders to bring national sporting events to Centre County.

“Similar to Ironman, hosting the State Games of America is a wonderful opportunity for Happy Valley, both economically and from a visibility standpoint,” said HVSEA Executive Director Eric Engelbarts, who previously created and grew the State Games of Michigan when he led the Michigan Sports Alliance. “The marketing and branding value of hosting an event of this stature is an amazing ancillary benefit. Like Ironman, it is an event that will take support from the community, which has been incredible.”

It will mark the second times the State Games of America have been held in Pennsylvania, with Hershey-Harrisburg having hosted in 2013.

Created in 1999 and held every two years, the event features competition among medal winners from State Games across the country, such as the Keystone Games, which will be held in Luzerne County later this month. Currently, 30 states operate participating State Games.

Because the 2026 State Games of America will be held in the State College area, Pennsylvania residents do not need to medal at the Keystone State Games to qualify. Because of a neighboring states policy, athletes from Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Ohio also do not need to medal at a State Games to be eligible.

“This event will not only showcase the talents of athletes from Pennsylvania and beyond, but also highlight the area’s rich cultural and recreational offerings,” National Congress of State Games Vice President Chip Hofler said in a statement.

Gold, silver and bronze medalists from all other member State Games in 2024, 2025 and 2026, as well as any medalist from the 2022 or 2024 State Games of America, which will be held in San Diego this month, qualify.

Sports at the 2026 games are still to be determined and nearly four dozen are under consideration, ranging from track and field, swimming, wrestling, basketball and softball to cornhole, darts, disc golf and e-sports.

Events will be held at a variety of facilities to be announced at a later date.

“The region’s exceptional facilities, vibrant community and strong support for athletics make it an ideal host for this prestigious event,” Keystone State Games Executive Director Jim Costello said in a statement. “We look forward to bringing together athletes from across the nation to compete in Happy Valley.”