For the second time in the last three years, the Empire State Games have been cancelled, according to multiple sources.
The Games were scheduled to take place in Lake Placid this winter and in Rochester in the summer.
"It is with great regret and sadness that I must inform you of the cancellation of the 2011 Empire State Games programs," Winter Games administrator Lisa Del Signore wrote in a letter to ESG officials and athletes obtained by "The Poughkeepsie Journal," who originally reported on the cancellation of the games. "We have been informed that there will be no appropriation for any of the Empire State Games programs in the coming year, and two of our five staff members have been laid off effective the end of the year. With no money and no staff, we have no program. Perhaps in the future the economic climate will improve and the Games will experience a rebirth. For now I thank you for all your hard work, your dedication and support."
According to the Journal, the Games' website was taken offline on Tuesday afternoon.
With a $9 billion budget gap at the state level, funding for amateur athletics is not high on the priority list. The Games were also cancelled in 2009 for the same financial issues.
"It's a sad day for all of the amateur athletes in the state of New York," said Jay Mauro, who coached Long Island to a gold medal in lacrosse last summer and is the head coach at Sachem North. "It was a great way for our lacrosse players here on Long Island to get recruited, compete against some of the best lacrosse players on Long Island, in New York and the country. The friendships and memories last a lifetime. There is nothing like walking into the stadium for the opening ceremony or winning the gold medal on Sunday afternoon."
Mauro, who also won gold as a player and assistant coach, spoke constantly over the summer about the privilege of playing at the games. Kids from New York will lose that opportunity.
"It was a great experience being with all those guys," said Alex Harris, a senior at Sachem North, who also won gold for the Long Island lacrosse team. "They're my teammates for life. Being the last people to go through it is kind of an honor. It's sad kids that are coming up don't have that chance now. The recruiting aspect is also lost for them."
"Local athletes aspire to play in these games, which helps them to gain college recognition and enhance their skills by working with other highly talented players and coaches," added Sachem athletic director Pete Blieberg. "Eliminating these games leaves a huge void in the athletic landscape across the state."
According to the "Rochester Democrat & Chronicle," the summer games earned an economic impact of $10 million to $12 million in the Rochester area when played there in 2006.
The Democrat & Chronicle also reported that Rochester mayor and Lt. Governor-elect Robert Duffy said it was premature for him to offer an outlook on the future of the games under Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo.
"I can't offer a definitive answer today but am certain that the incoming administration will revisit this decision after Jan. 1," he said.
Patch left a message with Bob Kenney, the Long Island Regional Director of the Games.
Patch.com will update this story with more information when available.