It takes a lot of work and organization to make a national event like the Scotties Tournament of Hearts run successfully.
Beyond the number of people working at the Centrium, more than the tournament staff, the media bringing the event to the entire country, and the 500-plus volunteers, there is an even larger force of people whose regular lives are put on hold for the duration while the Scotties athletes are in town.
Many of them may not even have had time to watch the action, though a lot of them met and serve the competitors.
They are the people in the hotels and restaurants who pulled extra duty making sure Red Deer showed well as a good host to all the guests and visitors who came to the national women’s curling championship.
Outside of owning wells, a communications network or a hit Hollywood movie, there aren’t a lot of enterprises that bring in cash receipts of more than $1 million a day. For our city, hosting events like the Scotties does just that. Final figures are still weeks away, but organizers are expecting the financial impact to Red Deer to reach or surpass $13 million.
Even if you’re not employed in the local hospitality industry, money spent here through that industry finds its way around.
Part-time workers called in for extra shifts spend that bonus in every part of our economy. Being part of a city that can host big events brings direct opportunities in trades and construction, sales, food supply and others, and wages earned there get spent everywhere else.
And that’s before we mention “legacy” effects for sports and recreation, fitness and quality of life in general.
And if we mention these things, they must include the $50,000 donation for neo-natal equipment for the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre that was spun off from this year’s annual Sandra Schmirler Foundation telethon that accompanies every Scotties.
Looking at this, it’s easy to see why Red Deer needs to value the work of people whose job it is to get our city known as a good host city for events that can attract thousands of visitors for multi-day events.
That’s also why Red Deer needs to cultivate a culture of volunteerism and enthusiasm for these events. It borders on irony, but an important part of what makes Red Deer a place we can be proud of involves intense activities that bring in large sums of money in short periods of time.
And these activities very much rest on the shoulders of people who are willing to put in long hours of work, for free.
The reason we have the sheets of ice we have, or the numbers of sports fields, plus storage rooms full of equipment, comes in part from our ability to host regional and provincial events. The constant pressure that we need more of all of these facilities relates in part to the rising financial opportunities that having more indoor and outdoor sporting venues brings everyone — even those who don’t directly participate.
The campaign — again led by volunteers — for a new aquatics facility is backed by the pledge that everyone benefits from being able to host provincial-level competitions in it.
Even half a million dollars a day is nothing to sneeze at — and there are many regional and provincial sporting and cultural events out there that can achieve that. Every cent of wages earned as a result of our being reliable, cheerful and competent hosts eventually finds its way to nearly every household.
That’s a pretty big payback for having people who step forward with talents in organization or just volunteering to hand out information packets to visitors.
We don’t have mountain trails on our doorsteps, or miles of pristine beaches, or historic castles or cathedrals to draw visitors to town.
But we do have good abilities to welcome families building life memories as participants or witnesses to top athletic competition or artistic talent. That’s a good, green industry.
Our Scotties legacy should be a commitment to continue building our capacity to do just that.
Greg Neiman is an Advocate editor.