Mayor Brandon Scott announced Friday that the city of Baltimore will host the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympics in 2028 and 2032.
Scott made the announcement during a news conference at Morgan State University, and was joined by AAU President and CEO Jennings “Rusty” Buchanan, the President and CEO of Visit Baltimore, Al Hutchinson, and Sport & Entertainment Corporation of Maryland President Terry Hasseltine. The mayor said the 11-day event will give the city the opportunity to “show what it has to offer the world”.
Buchanan said most of the events will take place at the Downtown Baltimore Convention Center, while track and field competitions will take place at Morgan State. Hasseltine said other venues throughout the city will be used depending on the sport.
According to Hasseltine, the AAU Junior Olympics will have an economic impact of over $59 million.
“After the great success we have had over the past year in organizing the [Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association basketball tournaments] and with the return of Preakness and our bid to host the 2026 World Cup, we are making Baltimore a place to be, especially for sporting events,” Scott said. “A city where everyone can enjoy a world-class culinary scene, high-quality hospitality venues, and a passion for sport and athletic excellence that you won’t get anywhere else.”
Scott, a former AAU track and field athlete, said hosting the games will benefit the community, local businesses and student-athletes.
“Our incredible young athletes in the city of Baltimore will be able to show off and be proud of their neighborhoods and their city and not travel but show the world that they can compete here in Baltimore as well,” he said.
The AAU Junior Olympics are known to be the largest national youth multi-sport event in the country. The event includes baseball, basketball, volleyball, tennis, taekwondo, wrestling and many other sports.
Since its beginnings in Washington, DC in 1967, the AAU Junior Olympics have been held in 19 states and 30 cities across the United States. The event took place in cities such as Des Moines, Iowa, Detroit, Houston and New Orleans. This year’s games will be held in Greensboro, North Carolina, which will also host the games in 2024.
“It’s good for the kids. It’s good for humanity,” Buchanan said. “It’s good for all of us because sport is a unifier and it’s a tool to bring people together. And right now in this world, nothing speaks louder than unification.
Said Scott: “There is no city that has the AAU history that Baltimore has in many sports. Baltimore has always had the best and the brightest. And now the world will come to Baltimore to host the games and there’s no better place to host them.
Hutchinson said he discussed the idea months ago with Scott and both were excited to bring the AAU Junior Olympics to the city. Hutchinson said the city has lost half of its hospitality workforce to the pandemic and the event will not just feature student-athletes.
“We are putting people back to work. It is very important because we have reopened,” he said. “We should also hold events here in Baltimore City to give people hope and optimism. That’s what it’s about. Let people know that “Hey, the best days are ahead of us”. We organize events here in Baltimore so that people can work.
Scott said the AAU Junior Olympics will be another way for people to see the city and its attractions while dining and staying in hotels.
“It’s a way to help our city reappear not just the same, but better than before the pandemic,” he said.