TAMPA (FOX 13) - It's official: Tampa Bay will host the 2019 Warrior Games. More than 300 wounded or injured service members and veterans will compete. They'll arrive with their families and coaches in late June. The games will take place June 21 to 30, 2019.
The opening and closing ceremonies will be held at Amalie Arena. Jon Stewart will be the emcee. A major performer, such as Kelly Clarkson -- who has appeared at the games at least twice before -- will perform at the opening ceremonies.
Several sporting events will happen at Amalie Arena and Tampa Convention Center. Wheelchair tennis will be held at Julian B. Lane Park, swimming at the Long Center Pool in Clearwater, and adaptive golf at The Eagles Golf Club in Odessa. Other sites are still to be determined.
U.S. Special Operations Command is bringing the games to Tampa. The command is based at MacDill Air Force Base, but Col. Cary Harbaugh of SOCOM believes it will be better for spectators and competitors to hold the games in the community.
"We know what Tampa can do, so it was easy to think through this and do this as a community kind of model and look at how we could do it smartly," Harbaugh said following the announcement Monday morning.
Harbaugh said that under Department of Defense rules, SOCOM can't ask for donations. Tampa City Councilman Luis Viera is urging people and companies to donate and volunteer to help make the games a success.
"I think it’s going to unite the community to support their sacrifice and heroism," said Viera. He believes the events will draw crowds next summer in Tampa.
Harbaugh said the competitors feed off the support. "The bigger we make that crowd, the better it will be."
Tampa will be just the second city to host the games outside a military base. Chicago did it two years ago, and the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado hosted the 2018 games.