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On the 16th of August 1978, 4,500 men and women paraded through old Archbold Stadium on the campus of Syracuse University and ignited the torch for the first Empire State Games and, along with it, a new spirit and the beginning of a new and exciting grassroots amateur sports movement in the United States.

Today, more than 40 states around the country have instituted State Games programs attracting nearly a half-million participants each year. New York's Empire State Games, patterned after the Olympics, is not only the first its kind in the nation, but is often considered to be among the most successful - setting the standard for multi-sport amateur athletic programs. Today's Empire State Games are really four distinct programs offering opportunities to all of New York's athletes: The Empire State Winter Games, Games for the Physically Challenged, Senior Games and Summer Games all contribute greatly to the fabric of this state's great athletic legacy.

The Empire State Games is a program of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, is a member of the National Congress of State Games, and is recognized by the United States Olympic Committee.

The purpose of the EMPIRE STATE GAMES is to:

  • Encourage wholesome athletic competition among the residents of New York State, particularly the youth;
  • Foster incentive for the improvement of amateur athletics in New York State;
  • Develop public recognition of the dedicated amateur athlete;
  • Promote volunteerism and community collaboration.

Each year, more than 30,000 men and women, young and old, tryout in the spring for a chance to represent their region as a finalist at the Summer Games in scholastic, open or masters divisions. And in each of the sports competition is keen. Through the years, many Games' alumni have moved on to national, international and Olympic competition. They include world champions, Olympic gold medalists, college and high school All-Americans, professional athletes in the NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL - as well as figure skaters, skiers, soccer players, and many more. But for every pro athlete or Olympian there are a thousand athletes for whom the Empire State Games may be the pinnacle of their athletic career. And that is what makes these Games so special.

All Summer Games athletes must be residents of New York State. 
Open & Scholastic Division participants enter the Games at the regional level and pay a registration fee to tryout for their selected sport. Tryouts are conducted from early May through late June and rosters are finalized in early July. All Open & Scholastic Division athletes must participate in a Regional Tryout to qualify for the finals.
Open and Scholastic Division athletes who are rostered for their 2010 Regional team to compete at the Finals will be offered free transportation via Regional buses from selected locations across the state.  Rostered Scholastic Division athletes will be offered free housing in college residence halls; rostered Open Division athletes who want residence hall housing will pay a fee of $25.  Breakfast and Dinner for rostered Open & Scholastic athletes will be provided at host college campuses in the finals host city at no cost.
Summer Games Masters Division participants must be residents of New York State, pay an entry fee and provide their own accommodations and meals at the Finals.
Free shuttles will operate between the campuses and most venues during the Games.

Join us at the Empire State Games as a participant, a volunteer, or as a spectator. It's an experience you won't soon forget.

Please visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.  If you cannot find the information you are looking for on this web site, please contact the Games Office at 518-474-8889; by mail: Empire State Games, Albany, NY 12238, or by email at: ESGContact@oprhp.state.ny.us