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More than 5,700 state and local athletes are preparing for the Keystone State Games to begin next week at York College.

The annual event, which is modeled after the Olympic Games, will return to York County for the third consecutive year, running July 26-30, according to a news release.

The York County Convention & Visitors Bureau expects more than $6 million in economic benefits for the local community from this year’s games, the release states.

“The Keystone State Games have been a crown jewel in York County’s lineup of sporting events, which drove more than $26 million into the community during the last fiscal year alone,” York County Convention & Visitors Bureau President Anne Druck said in the release.

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She added that sports visitors generate the greatest return on investment because of their typical spending level, which is the highest of all visitor types, according to the bureau’s research.

The five-day event will have athletes competing in nearly 30 different sporting events at 17 venues, starting with bocce on Wednesday.

York has hosted the Keystone State Games nine times in their 36-year history, according to the release.

Keystone State Games Executive Director James Costello said Thursday he credits the positive regional attributes of York County for the area being awarded the games for a quarter of the Keystone State Games’ history.

“York County has so much going for it when it comes to hosting our kind of (sporting) events,” Costello said.

He added that main transport lines such as Interstate 83 and the “fantastic facilities” in area high schools and York College as well as the York Expo Center make for a strong location to host the games.

Costello made note of the York County Convention & Visitors Bureau and WellSpan Sports Medicine, thanking the latter for “doing the greatest job we can imagine in the last three years" to ensure the safety of both athletes and attendees of the games.

Costello did not rule out another hosting bid for York County, but added that announcements regarding next year’s location would be made sometime after these games have ended.

Of all of the events held in recent years in York County, Costello said one he has enjoyed watching is fencing at Utz Arena in the York Expo Center.

He said as many as 300 fencers come from across the state, and the scene — filled with 15 lanes and lots of movement — makes for a great, entertaining event.

“It’s really one of those (sports) that give reasons for why the state games exist,” he said.

Admission will be charged for some events, with one-day passes starting at $10, a two-day pass for $15 and an all-week pass for $20. Baseball, lacrosse and 3-D archery are free to attend.

For information on the complete list of events subject to admission charges, visit the Keystone State Games website at www.premiersportingevents.com.

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