The 2019 Canada Winter Games Committee made their best go-platinum sponsorship pitch for $1 million from Red Deer County on Tuesday.
But a number of concerns — not the least of which was that many people are suffering during the current downturn in the economy — led county council to agree to providing $500,000 instead.
The committee has raised about $23 million of its $33 million goal to cover the Games’ budget, said Lyn Radford, chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games Host Society. Ever positive, she said they are now $500,000 closer to their goal.
The Games will be the biggest multi-sport event Alberta has seen in 30 years, she said, and the biggest event ever hosted by the City of Red Deer.
Radford said if the full funds are not raised, the committee will have to do some scaling back. The Games run from Feb. 15 to March 3, 2019.
The $1 million donation — which could have been a combination of cash and value in-kind and spread over five years — would have made Red Deer County the platinum sponsor.
The City of Red Deer is considered a partner and has committed about $26 million in capital budget spending, minus $6 million in federal/provincial capital grants. The higher level governments will also provide $8.1 million each to help cover the Games’ operational costs.
County Mayor Jim Wood, who said the Games are an “economic driver” and councillors Jean Bota and Christine Moore voted against an amendment to the motion to provide $1 million in cash. The amendment, made by Coun. Philip Massier, was that the donation be cut to $500,000. It was also supported by councillors Don Church, Connie Huelsman and Richard Lorenz.
Massier said there is lots of opportunity over the next two years for other sponsors to get involved.
The package of entitlements and benefits the platinum sponsorship would have provided included volunteer development, economic development and citizen engagement, involving the county in the Games at a high level, and bringing national attention to the county.
Scott Robinson, 2019 Games CEO, said there’ll be no other local event having as big an economic, community and cultural impact “in our lifetimes.” The Games are expected to draw 20,000 visitors and generate an economic impact of $132 million.
Projects are popping up all around the city. Some underway or planned include the new downtown arena in Red Deer, airport terminal and runway expansion, and Red Deer College’s Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre. Numerous other existing venue enhancements are planned or underway.
The Games committee will be reaching out to all municipalities in the region to raise funds, Radford said.