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SCCC to host international badminton championship

Suffolk County Community College's Field House is inside

Suffolk County Community College's Field House is inside the Health, Sports and Education Center. (Jan. 26, 2014) Credit: James Carbone

Suffolk County Community College will host the U.S. Open Badminton Championship this summer as part of a new effort to use its nearly 60,000-square-foot field house in Brentwood to help make the college a local economic engine.

SCCC will announce the tournament site Monday at a news conference with the Badminton World Federation. Tournament officials say they moved the championship from the West Coast to generate more East Coast interest in the sport.

The tournament will take place July 8-13. It has total prizes of $120,000 and a top prize of $20,000, and is expected to attract 250 competitors from 30 countries -- including past Olympic athletes, along with coaches, trainers and support staff. There will be seating for as many 3,000 spectators a day and tickets will cost $10 to $30.

"We are delighted to host an international event of this magnitude," said Shaun McKay, SCCC's president. "This will lift Suffolk County to a higher profile."

McKay said the tournament is part of an effort to boost usage of the 57,800-square-foot Brentwood field house, and other large campus sites in Selden and Riverhead, where a new $17.5 million field house is under design. SCCC has increased its marketing staff from one to three as part of the push, and officials forecast that revenues from the Brentwood field house and other sites will increase by 20 percent, to $600,000, by the 2014-15 school year.

Jennifer Rothman, sports sales manager for the Long Island Convention and Visitors Bureau, estimated the Open will have a $400,000 economic impact from spending on hotels, food, transit and tickets. The tournament also will provide an $80,000 rental fee for the college.

Rothman said getting the Open will help attract other major sport contests to the area. "It shows we have the stamina to hold major events like this," she said.

The championship is one of 11 grand prix events on the worldwide badminton circuit, sponsored by Yonex, a major maker of tennis and badminton equipment. For the past 18 years, the U.S. Open was held in Orange County, Calif. Federation officials say the college-based event will be the first of its kind in the Northeast.

Paisan Rangsikitpho, Open tournament director, said talks with the college started last summer and the Brentwood campus was chosen from among four sites, including the Javits Convention Center in Manhattan, because of its affordability, facilities and nearness to New York City.

"Badminton is quite popular on the West Coast, so we felt we had to move near the next big city to grow our sport in the east," said Rangsikitpho.

Tournament officials say if the Open is successful they expect the event to return for another year or even longer. "It's affordable," said Rangsikitpho. "And the college has been so helpful, they have become part of the team to make this event happen."

The college already runs 33 high school events each year at the Brentwood field house, which has a 200-meter AAU certified indoor track. The complex also hosts events including the annual Hauppauge Industrial Association conference, a Long Island pet show and a home expo.

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