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Police and Fire Games set to begin

Up to 14,000 visitors are expected to contribute millions in sales-tax revenue

Posted: June 12, 2009 8:20 p.m.
Updated: June 13, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Thousands of police officers and firefighters from 14 western states will converge in the Santa Clarita this week to test their might, skill and mettle against their colleagues.

The annual Western States Police and Fire Games begin today, giving public servants the chance to show their stuff in competitions ranging from basketball to pistol shooting, bodybuilding and karate.

More than 5,000 police and firefighters and up to 9,000 others are expected to attend, hailing from places as far-flung as Hawaii and Wyoming. The games could prove a major economic boon to the Santa Clarita Valley.

This marks the first year since 1993 the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department was chosen to host the event, said Sgt. Tim Klement, sports director for the event.

Santa Clarita was chosen as the base for the competition because “it’s very clean, it has pristine venues,” Klement said. “It’s friendly to the competitors. They have family members coming out to watch.”

He joked that the nearly 15,000 police and firefighters were a ready-made economic stimulus package for the Santa Clarita Valley.

City officials are expecting the Police and Fire Games to be comparable to the Amgen Tour of California or the AT&T Golf Classic, said Santa Clarita tourism analyst Amy Sparks.

“We’re definitely going to see a positive economic impact as a result” of the games, she said, adding she expects visitors will spend $5 million to $8 million in sales tax at the city’s hotels and restaurants.

The Hyatt Valencia will serve as the host hotel, though hotels as far away as Burbank were offering group discounts for the event, Klement said. Many hotels may be overbooked, he added.

About 500 officers from the Los Angeles Police Department are expected to attend, along with more than 350 from the California Department of Corrections.

The event will run from today to June 20, and all events are free for the public to attend.

Today will be free of sporting events as participants get registered and settled. However, there will be a classic-rock concert in the courtyard of the Hyatt Valencia 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. On Sunday, events include a triathlon at Castaic Lake, a bodybuilding competition at College of the Canyons and softball at Central Park.



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