Shortly after arriving in Yankton on Thursday, Greg Easton got a tour of the facility that bears his family name and got a brief update on an event he once helped bring to the United States.
Sure, it was a lot to take in for the president of Easton Foundations, but once he finally had a chance to sit down and gather his thoughts, he couldn’t help but rave about Yankton serving as host for the World Archery Youth Championships (WAYC).
Easton, who lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, is no stranger to Yankton – he likes to use the line “It may be in the middle of the U.S., but it’s not in the middle of nowhere.”
A year ago, Yankton – and its Easton Yankton Archery Complex – was awarded the bid for the 2015 WAYC, which meant the event would return to the United States for the first time since 2009 when Easton helped host the tournament in Ogden, Utah.
Yankton, a town of just under 15,000 residents, had a distinct edge when it came to the WAYC bid, according to Easton.
“The real advantages would be, you know archery and you have the facilities,” Easton said during an interview in the Yankton complex. “That’s probably what set Yankton apart.”
The size of the community no doubt also played into Yankton’s favor during the bid process, according to Easton – who went through a similar process ahead of the 2009 event in Utah.
“What’s nice is, we’re definitely an event here,” he said. “People know we’re here, they appreciate us being here, and I think that makes everyone feel good about being here.
“You’re not just another person on the street.”
The bidding process, unlike many other prestigious events around the world, for a WAYC is different in that it doesn’t stay competitive until the very end, Easton said.
There are rarely any secrets as to what countries are interested in the event, he said, and World Archery officials are honest with those other countries when they receive a bid they prefer.
“There were other countries interested in this particular bid, but I think when they (World Archery) saw what Yankton was putting forward, they wouldn’t need to go up against that,” Easton said.
Most notably among the countries Yankton beat out for the WAYC bid was Mexico City, and its population of over eight million residents. Yankton’s experience in hosting high-profile national and international tournaments no doubt played into its favor, Easton said.
“It’s not that Mexico City didn’t have the support, but the events they had held weren’t to this scale,” Easton said. “So World Archery probably thought, ‘Let’s go somewhere where they’ve held something like this before.’”
As perhaps a way to prepare itself for something larger, Mexico City will, however, host the 2015 Archery World Cup Final – a 2-day tournament with a smaller number of archers.
In order to host an event like the WAYC which in Yankton’s case has nearly 500 archers from 52 countries represented, an organizing committee needs support from every avenue possible, Easton said. That’s the challenge for Salt Lake City, which earlier this year announced that it was awarded the Third Leg of the Archery World Cup for 2017, 2018 and 2019.
“That’s the real challenge there,” Easton said. “How do you get that kind of city and community support.
“Bruce (Cull, NFAA president) has the mayor on his committee. I’m probably not going to get the mayor of Salt Lake City on my committee,” Easton joked.
Not only did the local organizing committee in Yankton elicit financial support from a number of businesses, it was able to secure the help from approximately 550 volunteers – who are helping out this week in a variety of areas.
“It’s really a model to look at,” Easton said. “From the city, county and state, everyone got behind this event. It really helps.”
And again, Yankton’s small size and archery experience plays a role in that effort, he added.
“People in Yankton know, ‘Hey, you’re archery and you’re here,’” Easton said. “It’s not a, ‘What’s archery and what’s going on?’”
As to what would be next for Yankton, those initial conversations have already started, Easton said. Perhaps a good script would be what Salt Lake City did: It hosted the 2009 WAYC (in nearby Ogden, Utah) and then hosted a leg of the Archery World Cup in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
For now, however, Yankton is already in international archery conversations because of its well-established success hosting tournaments, Easton said.
“I think it’ll definitely help,” he said. “That will continue to raise people’s recognition of this city, and should be able to help Yankton get more bids.”
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