2021 World Games Projected to Bring in a Quarter of a Billion Dollars (Yes, With a B)

Jonathan Porter, chairman of Birmingham World Games Foundation (Source: Solomon Crenshaw Jr.)

April 24, 2018 – Jefferson County commissioners were told during their committee meeting Tuesday that the metro area should see a huge economic impact from the 2021 World Games.

D.J. Mackovets, CEO of World Games Birmingham, said the economic impact is expected to be a quarter of a billion dollars.

“That’s with a ‘B,’” Mackovets said, “with 100,000 visitors.”

The CEO compared the impact to that of hosting an NCAA Final Four. And while it is not quite on par with a Super Bowl, he said, it is definitely a big deal for the participants and those who follow those sports.

“For these sports, for these 30 federations that will be here, this is their Olympic Games.”

Jefferson County is contributing $2.5 million over five years to the organization of this event. That, Commissioner Joe Knight said, is a good investment in Jefferson County’s future.

“It’ll be a showcase to the world,” he said. “People will see who we are, what we do (and) experience Birmingham.”

The budget of the World Games will exceed $50 million. Mackovets said the private sector commitment will be the largest in the history of the state of Alabama for an event like this. He said nearly $30 million will have to be raised from the community, region, state, “and frankly from elsewhere in the United States,” he said. “It’s a national effort.”

Knight said his biggest concern is educating local residents about the World Games. Some have expressed skepticism.

“Is that junior league Olympics? No,” Knight said. “These athletes are training just like Olympic athletes. Sometimes the events are interchangeable. Some (in the World Games) become Olympic events. Some Olympic events come to World Games.”

The World Games features more than 40 sports, from acrobatic gymnastics to waterskiing. Events will span across the metro area, from western Birmingham to Trussville to the east and as far south as Oak Mountain State Park. The Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex will host events with three local colleges – UAB, Samford and Birmingham-Southern College – being involved.

While the opening ceremony is currently set for Legion Field, it could shift to the recently OK’ed downtown open air stadium at the BJCC.

“We’re excited about the new stadium,” Mackovets said. “We want to showcase the city and community in the best possible light. We will maximize every facility that we have throughout the region.”

A positive challenge of organizers is determining the best venue for the various sports.

“We have so many venues to try to highlight the community,” Mackovets said.