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SPIRE Institute -- increasingly recognized as one of the most exceptional multi-sport training and athletic facilities in the country -- took a major step toward ensuring its economic sustainability this past weekend. SPIRE Institute has been officially designated a U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Site, one of only a handful of facilities nationally with this distinction, as announced Friday by the United States Olympic Committee. As an official training site of Team USA, SPIRE will offer resources, services and facilities to U.S. track & field and wheelchair basketball athletes, while creating an elite training environment that positively impacts performance.

Based in Geneva, Ohio, SPIRE features 750,000 square feet of Olympic-caliber indoor training facilities on more than 175 acres, including a multi-sport stadium complex. The world-class training, education and wellness complex is home to a nationally-renowned training staff, and offers residential high school and post-graduate academy programs, summer and holiday camps, and weekend training sessions in a variety of sports. Boasting one of the most diverse and inclusive mix of athletes in the country, SPIRE also offers a variety of athletic development programs, including sports medicine, nutrition and wellness offerings that can be customized based on individual needs.

SPIRE is among a select few designated training sites serving both Olympians and Paralympians. "This designation by the U.S. Olympic Committee will bring significant economic activity to Northeast Ohio and further strengthens our region as one of the country's premier sporting destinations. Not only will Olympic athletes now be traveling to train right here in Northeast Ohio, but this designation will help drive other athletes and events to SPIRE and our region," says David Gilbert, President and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission.

"We are thrilled to welcome SPIRE Institute as the newest U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Site designation, and appreciate SPIRE's commitment to the USOC and U.S. National Governing Bodies and their athletes," said Alicia McConnell, USOC director of training sites and community partnerships. "SPIRE has a strong reputation for its world-class facilities, which will provide critical training for America's finest athletes."

McConnell addressed a group of area officials and sport dignitaries -- including four-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson -- on Friday, Feb. 22, overlooking SPIRE's state-of-the-art 240,000 square-foot indoor track & field complex. Opened in 2010, the complex features 85-foot-high ceilings; a 300-meter, eight-lane track; and separate throwing, jumping and pole vault areas, and is considered one of the best in the world by Johnson and other Olympic greats.

Additionally, wheelchair basketball athletes will have access to a one-of-a-kind multipurpose court surface, which is also used for volleyball, tennis, gymnastics and mat sports.

"It's a great honor and the fulfillment of a dream to be recognized for our Olympic track and field and Paralympic wheelchair basketball facilities and resources," said Ron Clutter, SPIRE Institute founder and CEO. "Since our inception, our vision has been to unlock the full potential of the human spirit through athletics, academics and service, offering programs that focus on the positive power of sports for all individuals. We look forward to not only serving these world-class athletes and their families in their quest for excellence, as well athletes of all ages and skill levels who enjoy sports and competition." SPIRE CFO Jeff Orloff was understandably pleased with this important development. "The relationship with USOC gives us the ability to train a whole other group of athletes," said Orloff. "This helps the mission and the mission is to help the athletes, so it kind of goes in a circle. We are here for that purpose. And it's about character, it's about passion, and it's about community. When you bring all of those three things together, it defines what we are and it will help define what we do with the USOC." Unable to comment on any revenue component, Orloff did add, "The relationship with the greatest association in sports puts us in high air and will help get us where we want to go."

SPIRE founder Ron Clutter, when asked to comment on the economic impact of the new USOC designation, was more direct and more positive. "This [the relationship with USOC] will absolutely have a positive economic impact for us," adds Clutter. The designation will contribute to SPIRE delivering "tens of millions of dollars" of economic impact to the region, Clutter said. [More information on SPIRE Institute can be obtained by visiting SpireInstitute.org.] The Greater Cleveland Sports Commission prides itself on being one of the most distinguished Sports Commissions in the country, effectively leveraging sports events and activities to further economic development in Northeast Ohio. The philosophy of the Sports Commission sets it apart from others by operating as an economic and community development organization utilizing sports as a vehicle to forward other community agendas. The organization takes the unique approach of becoming a management and financial partner in each event with the goal of producing events that are more successful in Cleveland than other cities in which they have been held. Since 2000, the Sports Commission has been responsible for attracting, creating and/or managing over 135 sporting events resulting in more than $395 million in economic activity.

[More information on the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission can be obtained by visiting: www.clevelandsports.org.]

Without suggesting that SPIRE won't have to encounter and overcome other challenges in the years ahead, there can be no question that this weekend's announcement represents the placement of a major piece into the SPIRE economic puzzle and positions SPIRE on firmer economic footing. And that should go a long way to ensuring its economic sustainability. Certainly at least one conclusion is clear. This fortuitous development -- while an unquestionably positive turn of events for SPIRE -- is also welcomed news for our sport, its athletes, and its fans.

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Dunaway AwardAt the 2019 annual meeting of the Track and Field Writers of America, Dave was presented with the James Dunaway Memorial Award “for track & field journalism excellence.”

2020 Mid-American Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships

Dave HunterOn February 28-29, Dave served as the Color Analyst on the live ESPN3 broadcast of this championship gathering. Coverage of this 2-day conference championship can be viewed on the ESPN app.

Dave Hunter

Dave HunterDave Hunter is a track & field journalist, announcer, and broadcaster.  Dave reports on the premier track & field gatherings around the globe, frequently serves as an arena or stadium announcer for championship events, and has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments in the sport.


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