Scott Robinson fought back the tears as he talked about what the 2019 Canada Winter Games will mean to the city.
Looking down at his gold medal ring, Robinson said he intends to steward the Red Deer games team to the best of his abilities to a gold medal performance for the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer.
Robinson was named the CEO of the games at a press conference at Red Deer College on Friday.
“I’m very honoured and excited to get started,” said Robinson. “I know what it can be for the community. I also know what it means for the citizens and the sport development for Central Alberta.”
Robinson is no stranger to sports and to the Canada Winter Games. He had a 23-year career with Hockey Alberta, where he helped take two Alberta hockey teams to the national games.
At the 1995 Canada Winter Games in Grande Prairie and the 1999 Winter Games in Corner Brook, Nfld., Robinson was the manager of hockey development for Team Alberta men’s and women’s hockey teams.
In 1999, the men’s hockey team won gold and the women’s team took bronze for Alberta.
Robinson said he wore his ring as a symbolic gesture during the announcement of his appointment on Friday at Red Deer College because he is counting on the city pulling off a gold-medal performance in 2019.
Lyn Radford, Red Deer 2019 Canada Winter Games Host Society board chair, said the board is confident that Robinson is the right person for the job.
Radford said he was an integral part of the bid and the transition team.
“He understands sport and that was an important part of it,” said Radford. “But most of all he understands community. I think that is the biggest thing we have going in our favour here.”
The committee combed through 33 applications in its national search before making a short list of five applicants. Other Red Deerians applied for the position.
Robinson, who has worked in the non-profit sector for most os his career, officially starts on Aug. 15.
His parents Dennis and Sheila, who live in Edmonton, and daughters and Keira, 14, and Megan, eight, were on hand for the announcement.
Ron and Cari MacLean were also named as honourary board chairs.
Cari MacLean said they are thrilled to be part of the games and to continue being advocates for the city.
“This is where our heart is,” said MacLean. “We are anchored here through our family and friends. The community and what it has done for us has never left us. We want to give back because this is a community that made us both who we are.”
In the next six months to a year, the sub-committees and board will be in the thick of the planning processes. On Friday, the board began a two-day visioning session for the games to ensure the vision matches the bid.
Robinson said the group is building on the vision but they hope to make the games in Red Deer truly a regional, provincial and national event.
“Our vision is to make it something that is truly significant in terms of that emerging city and region that we are,” he said. “To ensure not only the athletes have the best possible experience but we elevate the games to a whole new level.”
Robinson said taking the games to that next level will involve a lot of hard work from the fantastic group of volunteers and community leaders.
“We going to roll up our sleeves and we are going to get busy on building all the pieces that we need to build to make it a fantastic games,” he said. “It’s going to be the biggest thing that the community has ever seen. It’s going to touch everyone.”
For two weeks in February 2019, some 25,000 visitors will come to Red Deer to watch 3,600 athletes compete in 19 sports.
The city has about $20 million to $30 million worth of capital work ahead to ready the facilities, such as the Collicutt Centre, Canyon Ski Hill and Great Chief Park, for the games over the next three years. The city allocated $26 million to improve and build two new facilities over the next three years.
The federal and provincial governments are expected to contribute at least $22.2 million for operating and capital costs towards the games. The city is in the detailed planning stages for the upgrades and new builds for the games.
If RDC does not proceed with its plans to build an Olympic-sized arena, the city will pay $11.4 million to build the arena and squash courts at the G.H. Dawe Community Centre.
The primary construction will likely begin in 2016.
Red Deer College’s planned Centre for Health, Wellness and Sport is one of the main facilities to will be used in the games. The college is also hosting the athletes.
RDC president Joel Ward expects the estimated price of $80 million to come in a little under as a result of the economy.
The college will launch an official fundraising campaign to raise about $25 million in the fall.
Red Deer County recently turned down the college’s request for $5 million for the project. Instead, the county agreed to contribute $500,000 to the project.
Ward said RDC is in talks with all the municipal governments in Central Alberta. The college will make its case at the county again before 2019.
Ward said RDC has a major commitment from the provincial government and the City of Red Deer, which brings the tally to about $50 million.
He is confident the facility will be up and running in time for the games.