Lake Placid businesses rankled by World Games security closures

Published: Jan. 19, 2023 at 5:25 PM EST
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LAKE PLACID, N.Y. (WCAX) - The FISU World University Games are a week into their ten-day stint in Lake Placid. The event is a triumph for the community’s ability to host big international events but is it also providing an economic lift to the community?

Lake Placid’s Main Street has been relatively quiet during the World University Games. At the opening of the games last Thursday, the downtown shopping area was closed to vehicle traffic for security reasons and it will continue to stay closed through the end of the games on Sunday.

“I think what we’ve learned from a business standpoint, having the street closed is not a good idea. It really does have an adverse effect on businesses here,” said Marc Galvin, the co-owner of Bookstore Plus on Main Street. He’s also a village trustee and the president of the Lake Placid Business Association. He says not only has the downtown not had regular tourist traffic because of the closure, but the international teams competing in the games have largely remained in their hotels and are not frequenting local businesses and restaurants.

Despite the business impacts, Galvin sees hosting these games as a big success for the future of Lake Placid. The Synchronized Skating World Championships are coming at the beginning of May. “That’s the type of event that we are going to get over the next 10 to 20 years that we wouldn’t have gotten if we didn’t have the venues upgraded. So, for these two weeks, it might be a little bit of a hard pill to swallow but I think it really does secure our future for events of that magnitude at quiet times when it normally wouldn’t be busy in Lake Placid,” Galvin said.

At Irish Treasures clothing store near the Olympic Center, owner Tiffani Healey was hoping for a better MLK weekend, she is also excited for the days and years to come. “We all don’t know what is the perfect answer, but as a whole, Martin Luther King wasn’t as good. But this coming weekend, with the hockey coming here for the finals, it will swap it out and it will be amazing,” Healey said.

On the spectator side, the games have sold more than 55,000 tickets to events, including noticeably busy curling and hockey arenas in places like Saranac Lake and Potsdam.

“It’s been a great time not only for the athletes but for those who have come in to be a part of the games,” said FISU World University Games spokesman Jon Lundin. “We’re pleased with the ticket sales and we are pleased with the excitement that this event continues to generate.”

We spoke to around 20 business owners and workers and nearly all expressed their frustration with the lack of downtown foot traffic and most stores were empty Thursday afternoon. But everyone agreed that the future of the village remains bright.

The games wrap up on Sunday with the men’s ice hockey finals and closing ceremonies.

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