Games bid a great step
Spending $5,000 to find out if Red Deer’s sporting infrastructure can be made capable of hosting a Canada Winter Games is an excellent down payment on making a bid for the 2019 Games.
Considering the numbers involved, $200,000 is also a pretty reasonable ante for the city to throw its hat into the bidding process. Seems rather low, in fact.
The Winter Games are described as being one of the largest multi-sport events in the world. More than 3,400 athletes from all provinces and territories would be arriving, to compete at the national level in 19 events. A crowd of 120,000 visitors would be coming over the 17-day event to watch and cheer.
When the games were staged in the Yukon in 2007, the resulting total economic activity topped $90 million. There’s a lot of room in there for legacy projects for the city and the whole region — not to mention that Red Deer’s location will most likely make the event much larger.
But first, we have to find out where we need to build, where we need to upgrade, and perhaps even where we might need to partner with our neighbours for ice and/or field space to stage events.
Not to mention where we will recruit the approximately 4,000 volunteers (or perhaps more) to make the Games run smoothly.
When you look at the size and potential impact of creating a winning bid, $5,000 for a first assessment looks like a bargain indeed.
Fortunately, Red Deer has experience at the helm for a project like this.
Lyn Radford has a record of success in organizing big projects. She was one of the initiators of the Alberta Sport Development Centres, and was sport chair for the 1998 Alberta Games and chair of the 2006 Alberta Summer Games, which were held to great success in Red Deer. She was capital campaign chair for Ronald McDonald House Central Alberta, raising $12 million. She also was an organiser of the 2010 Olympic torch run through Central Alberta.
Mike Klass is executive director at Alberta Sport Development Centre for the central region, a board member at Coach Alberta and a board member of the Sport Council of Red Deer.
They have the knowledge, experience and connections to guide a team to a successful bid for Red Deer.
It’s easy to get caught up in the euphoria of a project like this; the long-term payoffs are simply huge.
A shopping list of legacy projects is no doubt already being lined up — not least of which would be a 50-metre competitive pool. But first steps first.
Is the ski hill at Canyon ready for national-level competition? What would it cost to make it so? How much ice time and stadium time do we need for a national event of this magnitude? How much in provincial and federal development money can we expect for all the new or upgraded venues needed, and how much do we need to raise ourselves?
What’s the biggest advantage Red Deer has, over all other cities to be expected to compete for this event in the province, in order for our bid to win?
These are among the first questions Radford and Klass will need to answer.
That we have city council fully behind this bid is great, but as Radford noted Monday, this will be a community effort.
The successful bid won’t be announced until September of 2014. After that, the winning community would have five more years of building and preparation.
This is a project that can capture our imagination and energy for a long time. Just having the confidence to attempt the bid shows how Red Deer has grown culturally.
Let’s take the step.
Greg Neiman is an Advocate editor.