Big Changes for the AFLAC Outdoor Games

By Derek Kinkade   - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - One of the biggest changes about this year's event is the change of venue.  The games are being held on the historic riverfront instead of down at South Commons.  These are changes the creator of the games says are for the better.

Warner Neal is the President of Outdoor Events here in Columbus, and the creator of the Outdoor Games.  He says moving the games now just made sense.

"We made the decision to go ahead and move down this year so we could acclimate everybody as to where we were going to be, how you park, what's going to go on, and to take advantage of the greatest resource our city has, which is that river," he said.

The move to the riverfront also means spectators can take advantage of live music on two stages this weekend, as well as deals in some of the bars and nightclubs downtown.

Peter Bowden, the President and CEO of the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau, says because of the new location, he expects to see a lot of new faces.

"Because there's a musical component being added to it, and taking advantage of all the assets of the entertainment district and uptown area, I think we're going to find a different time of audience altogether," he adds.

But of course, you can still see your favorite events here at the outdoor games.  Although the STIHL Timbersports competition will not be back this year, there will still be a lumberjack show involving many of the same elements from last year.  Today, they're already setting up for the ultimate air dog and dog agility competitions.  It's just some of the events that draw people -- and their money -- to the Fountain City.

"We're probably talking about close to a 500,000 dollar economic impact over the course of the games as they go on," Bowden told us.

The organizers say this is just the beginning.  With the addition of a cycling competition -- among other new events -- Neal hopes the games will always be evolving, and in a big way.

"Ultimately, we want to run to Dillingham to 14th, and be on both sides of the river, and just be this tremendous event that everyone in the Valley benefits from," he said.

If you're looking for something to do this weekend, come on down to the riverfront, where over 10,000 people are expected to fill these bleachers taking in a weekend of fun for the whole family.

If you get your tickets ahead of time, they are $10 for adults, and $5 for children and military personnel.  The prices go up by $5 ($15 for adults and $10 for military) if you get them the day of the Games.  The AFLAC Outdoor Games are Friday-Sunday, May 21st - 23rd.

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