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Olympic Regional Development Authority reports record visits at venues

 ORDA logo on a plaque
WAMC/Pat Bradley
ORDA logo on a plaque

The Olympic Regional Development Authority is reporting a record number of visits at its New York venues over its past fiscal year.

The agency that manages the Olympic facilities in Lake Placid and ski resorts at Belleayre and Gore Mountains reports that there were more than one million visits to the venues during the 2022-23 fiscal year ending March 31st, a 15 percent increase from pre-pandemic visits.

ORDA Director of Communications Darcy Rowe Norfolk explains that the data comes directly from ticket sales at the venues.

“Those are actual transactions and that’s all part of our tracking as part of our systems. And so those are our numbers and our information.”

ORDA President and CEO Michael Pratt notes that for the past six years upgrades have been made to the venues, resulting in more athlete and spectator use.

“The Olympic venues at Mount Van Hoevenberg and at the ski jumps were very limited in what they could do for the summer. As we were modernizing, we made them year-round facilities. These improvements have allowed USA Bobsled and Skeleton to train in the summertime as well as the wintertime. And the ski jumps are the only certified venue in North America for summer and winter training and events. And then for the consumer, for the recreational adrenaline junkies, we’ve put in zip lines that parallel the ski jumps and a mountain coaster that follows the alignment of the 1980 bobsled track.”

While the largest increase in visits occurred at Belleayre, Gore and Whiteface Mountain ski resorts, Pratt says the upgrades at ORDA’s venues set the stage for future athletic and tourism use.

“The Olympic Center’s just turned out to be spectacular and the new museum is great. But I think what’s really been reinforced with all our modernization efforts is what we did was appropriate. We didn’t install a bunch of neon and bells and whistles. We installed really solid, efficient infrastructure that’s going to allow us to benefit from this opportunity for decades to come.”

Lake Placid Mayor Art Devlin spoke to the president of the Lake Placid Business Association and says the number of tourists visiting the village reflects the increases ORDA has counted.

“They’ve had quite a few good years especially in the spring because of COVID and the influx of people here. But if you back out that part of it and you back out for some of the merchants on Main Street the ten days the World University Games all-in-all he said yes they’re having a very good winter. Especially this February with the ski conditions and the snow conditions for all the other venues and sports being so good. Also you have to give a real thumbs up or kudos to the state for the money they invested in our Olympic venues. And the publicity that the World University Games brought, I’m sure brought people here in February. And then of course the World Cup ski jumping.”

ORDA’s data found the greatest number of visits occurred between December and March. Belleayre Ski Resort in the Catskills, which is managed by ORDA, saw a significant increase in visits from 179,000 in 2021-2022 to nearly 238,000 during the 2022-23 season.