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Manteca economy scores with Senior Games
Runner Diane Bromstead, 73, competes in the Women’s 3000m race during Wednesday’s 2009 Manteca Senior Games Track and Field events held at Sierra High - photo by HIME ROMERO

Manteca’s economy enjoyed a small spending boom this past week thanks to active Baby Boomers.

The 300 over age 50 athletes plus their spouses pumped at least $120,000 into the Manteca economy during the just completed Senior Games.

“Almost all of them spent at least one night in a hotel room here in town because they competed in multiple events,” noted Linda Abeldt, chief executive officer of the Manteca Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The state tourism board estimates a typical participant or spectator at such an event as the Senior Games spends $100 a day plus motel room costs. Abeldt noted many participants said they were heading over to Bass Pro Shops. They all hit local restaurants.

The athletes competed in everything from track and field to pickleball and softball in the inaugural Manteca Senior Games. Only a handful were from within easy driving distance of Manteca due to the scarcity of such competitions in the north state.  Many were from out of state including Oregon, Nevada and North Dakota. All other California Senior Games venues are in the south state - San Diego, Palm Desert and Pasadena.

Manteca had to cancel three core events of the Senior Games – bowling, swimming, and volleyball – due to inadequate sign-ups. Abeldt said state Senior Games officials said that Manteca’s initial offering was successful as most other start-ups are usually forced to cut back just to one event due to response.

Manteca offered martial arts, pickleball, track and field, BMX, as well as softball.

The 2010 Manteca Senior Games date will be set at a state gathering on May 8. It is expected to take place in April, May or June. The Manteca CVB has been put in charge of the statewide mailing list. That will work to the advantage of Manteca as this year due to complications at the state level the CVB didn’t receive the mailing list until less than three months out. They plan to start marketing the 2010 games as soon as the dates are confirmed.

They are also working with other cities such as Vacaville to offer games as well. The Vacaville games are targeted for January. The more dates offered for competition throughout the year, the more the numbers of participants have picked up elsewhere.

It is a break even venture for the CVB. The reason for staging it is to draw visitors – and their money – to Manteca.

The potential of the Games are reflected in the fact the Nationals planned for Stanford this summer already have nearly 6,000 athletes registered.

Abeldt said the plan for next year is to try and spread the games over two weeks to accommodate more competitors and to be less taxing on volunteers.

A survey of athletes showed they were interested in power lifting as well as cycling
The oldest male competitor was 92 and the oldest female athlete was 89.

Abeldt said many volunteers couldn’t believe the ages of many of the competitors as driver’s licenses are required to make sure someone isn’t competing at the wrong age level.

“The volunteers couldn’t believe how young looking many of the competitors were for their age,” Abeldt said.