Triangle could land at the Summer World University Games in 2027

The Durham Bulls face the Norfolk Tides during a recent game at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, NC.

The Durham Bulls face the Norfolk Tides during a recent game at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, NC.

The Triangle could be nearing the landing of another major sporting event that will bring thousands of athletes — and lots of economic dollars — to the area.

In 1987, it was the US Olympic Festival. In 2027, it could be the Summer World University Games.

An announcement will be made in November by the International University Sports Federation on the host country chosen for the 2027 event. Two finalists: America and Chungcheong, South Korea.

Hill Carrow, long a crusader for bringing sporting events to the Triangle, helped secure the Olympic Festival and hopes to do the same with the Summer World University Games, which are held by more than 150 countries and 600 universities. Athletes will participate.

“We are optimistic,” NC Bidding Committee chairman and CEO Caro said Wednesday at Durham Bulls Athletic Park. “I think we’re very sport-worthy in terms of major events in the region. When it comes to staging the event, I think we’re really well prepared for that.”

The International Federation (FISU), based in Lausanne, Switzerland, sent a delegation this week to tour a site in the Triangle. The group toured several venues, including the PNC Arena, which opened in 1999. They did a helicopter tour of the area, Cairo said, examining the landscape.

While many games will be held in the Triangle, there will also be competitions in Greensboro – as in 1987 – and in Elon. Some baseball will be played at the DBAP, Caro said, and some at venues such as UNC’s Boshamer Stadium.

“What impressed me is the number of venues available for the Games and the quality of the venues and the proximity of the venues,” said FISU Games Director Jing Zhao. β€œAnd the passion of the people for the game. We were impressed by the proximity of the universities, but also by the university atmosphere, the youth and passion, and the level of international students.”

He said the visit to the PNC Arena was cut short on Wednesday.

“We told the manager, ‘I don’t think we need to look any more, we’ll already put in our report that your place is already eligible,'” she said. “It was very impressive.”

Athletes participating in the World University Games will be 18 to 25 years old, and more than 7,000 are expected to participate in the 2027 Summer Games.

Cairo said the planned dates for the Games would be in July, with the opening and closing ceremonies likely at UNC’s Kenan Stadium.

Caro said the total cash budget would be around $100 million — and counting gifts and services at roughly $125 million. He noted that the state legislature recently approved a $25 million commitment that is contingent on the 2027 Games in North Carolina.

“It’s a big statement, for North Carolina to make a move like this,” Caro said.

Caro said event revenue could match the $25 million state appropriation, “that would leave the remainder to come from major sponsorships, primarily, and perhaps some broadcast rights.”

Caro said that there have been preliminary discussions with NBC, CBS, Turner and ESPN about airing the program within the US.

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Local businesses are offering support in the form of the Triangle and North Carolina bid to host the 2027 Summer World University Games. Chip Alexander

Caro said being in a “sweet spot” between World Cup football in the US in 2026 and the 2028 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles could help with the budget.

“The biggest sponsorships for the LA Games are $400 million each,” Caro said. “We’re saying that if we have to fill the $50 million or $60 million (budget) gap and we can price our sponsorships for these big guys a lot more modestly, they probably created a little bit of revenue for us. And if we can give them a good TV package to go with it, it will be an attraction for them.”

Dan Guerrero, president of the American Federation of America (USIUSF), likes the prospect of getting into the Games. The former UCLA athletic director noted that other regions in the US were scouted by the federation, but the decision was “better than Triangle and North Carolina” to “some places it could distribute the goods”.

“I’m bullish on what our chances are,” Guerrero said. “I believe our bid is a strong one, and it would be hard to believe that you’re going to find better facilities and better cooperation between people in this area.”

Collaboration, as always, is key to staging an international venture of this scope, Caro said.

“It’s a huge team effort,” he said. “Thankfully everyone is playing really well together in the sandbox and willing to come together for a bigger common cause.”

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In more than 30 years at The N&O, Chip Alexander has covered the NC State, UNC, Duke and East Carolina beats, and is now in his 11th season on the Carolina Hurricanes beat. Alexander, who has won numerous writing awards at the state and national level, covered the Hurricanes’ move to North Carolina in 1997 and was part of The N&O’s coverage of the Keynes’ 2006 Stanley Cup run.

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