Iowa Games preparing to host athletes from all 50 states for 2022 State Games of America

Danielle Gehr
Ames Tribune

Every year, the Iowa Games brings athletes from across the state for a marathon of competitions. Next year, the event will bring in athletes from all 50 states.

The 2022 State Games of America will be hosted by Iowa Games in Ames with a few events in Des Moines. The games will generate an estimated $3.4 million in Ames, according to Iowa Games. 

"I think being able to hold this national event will be huge," Director of Sports and Competitions Katie Kramer said. "Bringing in this national competition will just bring awareness to Iowa in general."

The yearly event is part of the National Congress of State Games, an organization with 28 member states and three developing member states. Every two years, the State Games of America is hosted in a different state.

The Iowa Games were founded in 1987, starting as part of the National Congress of State Games. The first State Games of America was held in 1999 but was never hosted in Iowa. 

"We're definitely running in new territory here," Kramer said. 

Iowa Games typically brings roughly 12,000 participants to Ames and expects an additional 3,000 to 5,000 participants at the national games. 

All Iowans can compete, as well as nearby states without their own state games programs, including South Dakota, Minnesota and Illinois. 

Other athletes will need to qualify at their own state games by placing first, second or third in a sport. 

Kramer said this event has been in the making for several years. It was originally set to take place in 2021 but was delayed due to COVID-19. 

The event will feature roughly 40 sports, including classics like archery and golf and some new events like ninja. All are welcome to compete, with past participants as young as 3 years old and as old as 94 years old competing. 

"There are a lot of loyal people that just come out every year, and it gives them something to do," Kramer said. "There's some new things that we have to do, but other than that, we're really running it just like we would in normal Iowa Games."

Most events will be held in Ames at venues like Jack Trice and Sukup, State Gym, Maple Willow Larch Fields. Ames Parks & Recreation, Perfect Ames and more. Some sports will be hosted in Des Moines venues like Wells Fargo Arena and Wellmark YMCA Pool.

Registration is open for potential participants. Find more information at www.stategamesofamerica.com/.

Danielle Gehr is a politics and government reporter for the Ames Tribune. She can be reached by email at dgehr@gannett.com, phone at (515) 663-6925 or on Twitter at @Dani_Gehr.