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FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) selected St. Louis, Mo. to host its annual international Robotics Championship from 2015 through 2017, making this a seven-year commitment to the city of St. Louis and the local FIRST Organizing Committee.

St. Louis, with a 66,000 seat stadium, was selected from among five finalist cities to host the Championship event for the expanding FIRST Progression of Programs. FIRST was founded in 1989 by noted inventor Dean Kamen to inspire young people to become science and technology leaders, and FIRST Programs are projected to reach over 350,000 young people in more than 80 countries in the 2014 season.

“FIRST is confident that the city of St. Louis and its local partners will continue to enable us to provide high-quality experiences for our community,” said Donald E. Bossi, president, FIRST. “We are pleased and excited to bring the culminating event of our Sport for the Mind to a city that has been such a solid supporter of the mission of FIRST for so many years.”

Holding FIRST Robotics Competition Regional events for more than 12 years, the city of St. Louis has hundreds of volunteers involved in four FIRST programs, including: Junior FIRST LEGO League; FIRST LEGO League; FIRST Tech Challenge; and the FIRST Robotics Competition. The local FIRST community assists all of the state’s robotics teams with mentors, volunteers, venues and financial support.

“We continue to be very impressed by St. Louis’ facilities, infrastructure, widespread community support, financial plan, and their experience in hosting large-scale sports and youth cultural events,” said Ron Falcone, chairperson, FIRST Championship Site Committee. “The excellent quality of the finalist city bids from Atlanta, Detroit, Louisville, Indianapolis and St. Louis attest to the enormous amount of time, effort, and research from the five finalist cities, and FIRST thanks each city for its cooperation.”

The FIRST Championship event for 2015-2017 will be housed at the America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis, with a total of 502,000 contiguous square feet of exhibit space in six halls, 83 meeting rooms, the 1,411 fixed-seat Ferrara Theatre, the St. Louis Executive Conference Center and the 66,000-seat Edward Jones Dome.

“FIRST will bring more than 25,000 technology-savvy kids, their mentors and parents to St. Louis for four action-packed days,” said Kathleen “Kitty” Ratcliffe, president, St. Louis Convention and Visitors Commission (CVC). “In addition to the competition, they will visit attractions and patronize our many tourism businesses.”

When FIRST competitors return to St. Louis, they will see new developments, including an Arch grounds, Ballpark Village and a redeveloped Union Station. These developments are augmented by many youth-friendly venues, such as City Museum, City Garden, Saint Louis Zoo, the Saint Louis Science Center, the Saint Louis Art Museum and the Missouri History Museum.

The dates for the FIRST Championships in St. Louis, Mo. are Apr. 22-25, 2015; Apr. 27-30, 2016 and Apr. 26-29, 2017. As part of the previous FIRST Championship city selection process conducted in 2009, the 2014 Championship will also take place in St. Louis from Apr. 23-26.

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