• What exactly is the Star of the North Games?
The Star of the North Games is Minnesota’s own Olympic-style multi-sport event. Each year, a different Minnesota community hosts the Games. In 2016, St. Cloud will host the Games for the seventh time. The number of sports varies from year to year, but typically 17-24 sports are offered. The number of athletes also varies from about 4,000 to 6,000, and is typically tied to the host location, the selection of sports offered and the number of courts and fields available.
When coaches, referees, family members and spectators are included, the Star of the North Games will bring between 8,000 and 12,000 people to St. Cloud over the last two weekends in June.
The emphasis of the Games is on friendly, participatory competition. While the Star of the North Games does draw some participation by elite athletes, the emphasis is on participation and sportsmanship. Most athletes claim to enjoy the Games more for its tradition of fun and the spirit of competition, rather than an ultra-competitive environment.
• When are the Games held?
The Star of the North Summer Games are annually held on the third and fourth weekends of June. The dates for the 2016 Games will be June 17-19 and 24-26. The two-weekend format is dictated by the heavy — and conflicting — facility needs of two of the largest team sports: volleyball and basketball. Since both use the same indoor court facilities, it is necessary to schedule those sports on separate weekends.
• Which sports are part of the Star of the North Games program?
While the Star of the North Games features a constantly evolving program of events, the following sports have been featured consistently over the years. However, it is important to remember that not all of these sports will be offered during any given year.
5k Road Race
Track and Field
Here is a listing of additional sports that are potentially part of the SOTN program. These sports can be held at the discretion of the local organizing committee.
Over 85% of Star of the North athletes participate in the following sports: soccer, basketball, volleyball, baseball, track and field and figure skating.
• Which cities have hosted SOTN in the past, and which ones will host in the future?
Here is the roster of past host cities:
1988: St. Cloud
1991: Blaine/Coon Rapids
1993: Twin Cities North Metro
1997: St. Cloud
1998: Brooklyn Park
2002: St. Cloud
2004: Saint Paul
2005: St Cloud
2008: Saint Paul
2009: St. Cloud
2011: St. Cloud
2013: Saint Paul
2014: St. Cloud
• Do all states have a State Games?
Most, but not all. Twenty-nine states currently organize statewide sports festivals known as State Games. Modeled after the Olympic Games, State Games provide a motivational goal for all athletes within the state in which they are organized. Nationwide more than 90 sports are offered each year in State Games with competitions held in 536 communities for participants from over 6,000 cities and towns. Competitions are both recreational and competitive and have been the first step for many Olympic and professional athletes.
All the State Games across the country, including the Star of the North Games, are members of the National Congress of State Games (NCSG). The NCSG is a Multi-Sport Organization, and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. The NCSG provides education, national contacts and resources for State Games, and organizes the State Games of America (see below).
• Is there a national championship for State Games athletes?
Yes, it’s called State Games of America (SGA). Athletes who win a medal in a qualifying sport in the Star of the North Games in 2017 will qualify to participate in the next State Games of America (SGA), August 3-6, 2017 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
The State Games of America is held every two years. Future host cities after 2016 have not been selected.
• What is the benefit to the host city of hosting the Star of the North Games?
Each host community has its own different and unique reasons for hosting the Star of the North Games. Some of the more compelling reasons include:
1) Economic impact: The Star of the North Summer Games annually produces an average of over $1 million of economic impact for the host community. Major revenue is generated in hotel/motel bookings, restaurants, and other retail sales.
2) Showcasing a city’s sport, recreation, and cultural facilities: Thousands of the state’s most influential coaches, athletes, athletic administrators, and legislative leaders attend the Games. It’s a great way to showcase the city’s facilities and market the city for future sports events, clinics, conventions, and meetings.
3) Enhancing a community’s sport-organization infrastructure: In many communities, the most irreplaceable legacy of the Games is an organizational infrastructure of knowledgeable volunteers, standing committees, and community partnerships that make it feasible to host future sports events of all sizes.
4) Opportunities for local athletes: Hosting the Star of the North Games local amateur athletes the chance to compete with a “home field advantage,” and to show off their city’s athletic prowess with pride.
5) Fund Raising: Most cities use excess funds generated by the Star of the North Games to help fund on-going amateur sport programs in their community — or to provide start-up money for a local amateur sports commission or event-host committee.
6) Cooperative project with the MASC: The Star of the North Games is one of the premier programs of the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission, a state agency dedicated to developing economic impact through amateur sports programs and facilities.
7) Statewide publicity: In addition to having their city featured in all pre-event publicity, after the games returning athletes often get significant media coverage in their hometown media. This is especially true in smaller communities around the state.
• Where do the registration fees go?
All the registration fees go directly to help underwrite the operating costs of the Summer Games. The income from athlete registration fees make up about two-thirds of the total revenue of the Local Organizing Committee (LOC). It is the philosophy of the Star of the North Games board that the athletes themselves fund the major portion of the expense of staging the games. However, every effort is made to keep the entry fee as reasonable as possible. That’s why LOC’s will always need to raise additional revenue.
• What are the major sources for additional revenue?
There are three additional areas that LOC’s use to generate funds to support the Games: 1) sponsorship, 2) merchandise and concession sales, and 3) revenue from the $10 all-events passes.
• What happens to any losses or profits?
The contract between the Star of the North Games, Inc., and the local organizing committee of each host community is financially self-sufficient. The host committee retains any profits from the Games. Similarly, the host LOC is responsible for covering any losses incurred in hosting the Star of the North Games.
• Isn’t this a State of Minnesota event?
The statewide program of the Star of the North Games is administered by the Star of the North Games, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. The State Games was created by the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission (MASC), a state agency. Staff members and interns administer the on-going sports program, and provide support to the LOC volunteers. However, no direct state funds are spent on the Star of the North Games.
• What benefits does the LOC receive from the Star of the North Games staff and the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission?
The LOC receives significant direct service from the Star of the North Games and MASC staff. Here is a sampling of those services:
1) Training, education, and consulting: In addition to formal educational events, the MASC staff makes frequent community visits, and is readily available for telephone consultation and assistance.
2) Sport program: The staff is responsible for maintaining the on-going sport program, including relationships with Minnesota’s sport associations, policies on age groups and competition divisions, and advising and supporting each sport director in the operation of their event.
3) Registration processing, Software and Computer: The Star of the North Games will receive and process all registrations. Updated registration information (lists of registrants) is available any time a sport director or local organizer needs them. Additionally, the staff will manage registration check-in and train local support volunteers.
4) Sport Commissioner Program: In six of the largest sports (soccer, volleyball, lacrosse, basketball, figure skating and track and field), the Star of the North Games board has appointed sport commissioners to assist the LOC in producing these complex sports. Each of these commissioners is extremely knowledgeable in their particular sport. They maintain a year-round presence for the Star of the North Games within that sport, which helps in calendar scheduling and athlete/team recruitment. Additionally, all commissioners will be present on-site to administer the tournament or meet, assist and support the local sport director during the actual event.
The Star of the North also appoints a headquarters commissioner to administer all HQ operations, train and support volunteers, and improve support to LOC staff.
5) Statewide Promotion: The Star of the North Games staff distributes promotional materials through direct mail and social media to help drive registration activity.
6) Media Operations and Results Reporting: The State Games media staff writes and distributes news releases to media outlets all over the state. During the Games, the media staff will be based at the Games headquarters in Saint Paul to operate the press operations center. Results in all sports are collected and posted on the website.
7) Star of the North Games Website: Included is information on all the sports, registration forms, background information on the Games, hotel lists, schedules, and local host city information. When schedules are finalized they are published on the website first.
During the Games, results are updated on the website every few hours throughout the two weekends of sports events.
• I’m just a recreational athlete. Is there a place for me?
Most Star of the North Games sports offer different age and/or ability categories. The emphasis is on participation and friendly competition. For those reasons, many sport organizers consider the Star of the North Games an ideal event for the first-time or casual competitor. However, that doesn’t mean that all sports are open to first-timers. Due to safety regulations and state and national governing body rules, some require membership in that sport’s governing body and/or the completion of a safety or training program. Still, the Star of the North Games makes every effort to be inclusive, rather than exclusive. We want to spread the word that sports are fun, and there’s a sport for everyone.
• What if an athlete can’t afford the registration fee?
The Star of the North Games board offers a registration scholarship program to assist youth athletes and teams in need of financial assistance. This program is limited to athletes 18 years of age and under. Athletes interested in applying for the RAP program should call the State Games office at (763) 785-5678 (Twin Cities Metro Area) or 1-800-756-STAR (Greater Minnesota).
• What are the greatest volunteer needs for the LOC?
Due to the complex organizational needs of the Star of the North Games, LOC’s have volunteer needs in many different areas. Some of the areas of greatest need are:
1) Venue managers and facility hosts. Each sports venue is staffed with a venue manager on duty at all times that competition is being held.
2) Sport volunteers, especially in track and field, figure skating, swimming, and the largest multi-venue team sports: volleyball, soccer, and basketball.
3) Athlete registration and check-in
4) Venue and sport set-up, including delivering supplies and equipment to gyms, fields, and courses.