- Associated Press - Friday, March 3, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The Bismarck area is preparing to host a Special Olympics event that’s expected to draw more than 700 participants this summer.

The 2017 Special Olympics North America Softball Championship is anticipated to bring about 1,000 visitors to the community in August, The Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/2llVaAN ) reported.

The event was announced during the Bismarck-Mandan Convention and Visitors Bureau’s annual meeting.

Thirty-two teams from the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean are expected to compete, said Craig Pippert, senior manager of sport development for Special Olympics North America.

Kathleen Meagher, president of Special Olympics North Dakota, said the event will help make “Bismarck-Mandan a more inclusive community than it already is.”

The Special Olympics event is part of the convention bureau’s effort to expand the sporting events realm in Bismarck and Mandan. Convention bureau CEO Sheri Grossman said meetings and events brought $31.2 million of spending to the community in 2016.

The area is also expects to host Optimist International Junior Golf District Qualifying Tournament in June. The tournament’s organizer, Andrew Engelman, said last year’s event brought 47 golfers and about 115 visitors to the community last year. This year, he hopes to see more than 60 golfers.

The Rocky Mountain International marketing and tourism group’s International Roundup is also expected to take place this year. Grossman said the event will bring buyers from about 10 countries to the area. She said the event is expected to result in $12 million in future travel spending to Rocky Mountain International’s four member states: North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com


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