Fort Wayne prepares to welcome hundreds of athletes for 2019 ISBA Goalball and Judo International Qualifier
By Lisa Esquivel Long | Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly
Allen County Commissioners heard May 24 how Turnstone not only is helping people with disabilities, but also will create an economic bright spot in a normally lagging time on Fort Wayne’s tourism calendar.
Tom Trent, head of Turnstone’s board and a partner at Rothberg, Logan and Warsco law firm, and the agency’s CEO, Mike Mushett, discussed the 2019 ISBA Goalball and Judo International Qualifier that the nonprofit will co-host in partnership with the United States Association of Blind Athletes in July. The goalball competitions will be held at Turnstone and Indiana Tech, and the judo events at the Grand Wayne Convention Center. The top athletes from the games will move on to Tokyo’s 2020 Paralympic Games.
This is the first time the event will be held in the United States, and Mushett said he believes it will be largest international event the region has seen. Turnstone’s 2018 designation as a U.S. Paralympic training site helped secure the games here, he said.
Forty-six countries – Israel, China and Russia among them – have confirmed so far, with over 600 athletes, coaches and delegates expected to come, along with international media to cover the event, which will be web-casted around the world.
“We have pretty much taken over (the Hilton and Courtyard Fort Wayne Downtown at Grand Wayne Convention Center) hotels, during what turned out to be the slowest week of the year traditionally, which the hospitality industry is thrilled that we brought this event to town,” he said. “And we’re thrilled because we got the lowest hotel rates.”
The event shows Turnstone’s benefit to the community at large.
“We are contributing to the community, not just through our mission, but through the economic impact,” Trent said.
The event will involve a lot of logistical issues such as the dining hall to be set up in Grand Wayne, which will need to meet the athletes’ dietary needs, and the involvement of Homeland Security and local law enforcement for security overall.
The only event that requires the public to buy tickets for is the welcoming ceremony at 7:30 p.m. July 2 at Parkview Field. Tickets will cost $5 for adults; under 12 will get in free. Donations will be collected but “no one will be turned away,” Mushett said. Entertainment will include the Sweetwater All Stars band.