Special Olympics to leave Columbia

The event’s four-year stay at MU will come to an end when it returns to Fort Leonard Wood.
Thursday, June 7, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:54 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tuesday marked the end of the four-year contract between MU and Special Olympics Missouri.

“It’s always exciting for the athletes to compete, but it’s also sad to be leaving such a great community,” said Mark Musso, president and CEO of Special Olympics Missouri.

For the last four years, the games have been held in May, but last year, MU learned it would host the NCAA Mideast Track and Field Regional on the Audrey J. Walton Track-Soccer Stadium on May 25 and 26 earlier this year.

In response, Special Olympics held its games in June this year, causing several hundred athletes to miss the games because after school lets out, the athletes have to find their own transportation.

According to athletics department spokesman Chad Moller, after the press release was sent out about the NCAA regionals, Special Olympics wanted to use the track before the event, but the track had to be open for regional participants. Then Special Olympics wanted to host the games the week after the regionals but MU was already contracted for high school baseball tournaments.

MU’s Campus dining, residential life, recreation services, and the athletics department all work with Special Olympics to coordinate the games.

The summer games will move to Fort Leonard Wood for the next four years. In 2002, a meningitis outbreak at Fort Leonard Wood caused an immediate relocation of the games. MU’s Recreation Services agreed to host the games with just 30 days notice. MU hosted the event again in 2003, which resulted in the signing of the four-year contract.

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