Games bring big bucks to communities

Posted: Monday, March 01, 2004

FORT MCMURRAY, Alberta, Canada Kenai Peninsula officials have estimated the 2006 Arctic Winter Games will bring between $10 million and $20 million to the community during the two-week cultural and athletic exchange two years from now.

Such estimates have created both believers and skeptics, but that's just what Fort McMurray, the host community for the 2004 Games, is experiencing this week, with some 6,000 visitors booking flights into the region, renting cars and hotel rooms and patronizing restaurants.

According to 2004 Host So-ciety spokesperson Alain Moore, the society is expecting between $12 million and $15 million in revenue this week specifically from such visitor industry sales.

"I was at a local restaurant yesterday for lunch, and it was buzzing with activity," Moore said Saturday.

Moore said that with Fort McMurray's booming oil industry and related growth, that revenue may not be as important as it would be in other struggling communities.

But, he said, every little bit is welcome.

 

Rick Gillingham uses a new Bombardier Plus MP snow groomer Sunday to prepare a slope for skiers at Vista Ridge All Seasons Park near Fort McMurray, Alberta. The park, which is owned by the Municipality of Wood Buffalo, purchased the groomer so that it could prepare its slopes for snowboarders.

Photo by M. SCOTT MOON

"With our economy really as strong as it is, this is icing on the cake," he said.

Diane Clewes, general manager of the Best Western Nomad Inn in Fort McMurray, agreed.

She said her business-class hotel commonly is booked solid during weekdays this time of year, with oil industry personnel flying in for the work week. However, she said the tourists in town for the Games are aiding her weekend figures.

"I've had a better weekend because of it," she said, noting that she expects to earn about $80,000 from hotel and restaurant sales exclusively due to Games participants and spectators.

"It's really nice to see this come to the community," she said.

And the Best Western is just one of dozens of hotels in Fort McMurray, all seeing extra business this week.

Bill Popp, the revenue development chair for the 2006 Games, said he expects the influx of money from the Games will bring even more to the Kenai Peninsula.

Unlike Fort McMurray, the peninsula economy has been struggling in recent years with an ever lessening oil boom.

Though the peninsula has a stronger tourism base than Fort McMurray, Popp said the Games revenue will mean even more to area businesses.

According to a report by the Kenai Peninsula Borough's Com-munity and Economic Develop-ment Division, the visitor industry brought in a little more than $70 million in taxable sales in 2002.

The $10 million to $20 million expected to be generated by the Games is 14 percent to 28 percent over and above that annual figure.

"I'm looking around this room and seeing 8,000 people," Popp said prior to Saturday night's opening ceremonies. "I was driving around today and there were kids with shopping bags everywhere. The stores were packed today. It's amazing to see the cash registers ringing.

"We see this as even more meaningful in the impact to the Kenai Peninsula's broader diversified economy."

The expected revenue is only half the financial picture, though.

Moore said the 2004 Host Society also had to raise about $6 million to bring the Games to the area.

Of that, $2.2 million came from government funding partners, including the Municipality of Wood Buffalo, in which Fort McMurray sits, the province of Alberta and the Canadian federal government.

The other $4.1 million was what Moore called "self-generated." About $750,000 came from Games merchandise sales, such as sweatshirts; $450,000 came from ticket sales for the opening and closing ceremonies for the Games; and another $2.9 million $1.3 million in cash and $1.6 million in in-kind services came from local businesses.

That money went to organizing the Games, as well as marketing the event and preparing the community for the influx of people. For example, while many of the venues for the Games sporting events already existed in the area, some had to be added or upgraded.

Moore said the Games committee brought in special grooming machines to create a half-pipe at the local ski hill, which will be used not only at the Games but by area snowboarders for years to come.

Then there was the ATCO Plaza, where the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as several daily awards events, are being held. The giant tent stadium includes elaborate lighting and sound sets, a central stage with rotating capabilities and seating for more than 7,000 people.

The temporary structure was brought in specifically for the Games, Moore said, and it will be taken down after the week's events are finished.

"Our local arena is smaller," Moore explained. "It took a lot of hard work by a lot of people to make this happen."

Popp said similar fund-raising will be necessary for the 2006 Games. He said the Host Society is looking to raise about $5.3 million. Of that, he said about $400,000 will be merchandise and ticket sales, while about $4.9 million is expected to come from corporate sponsorship and government grants, both in cash and in-kind services.

"It's meaningful in-kind. It's the goods and professional services that replace the need to raise money," he said.

Already, Popp said the Games committee has raised about $1.5 million in revenue. He added that the committee expects to make major announcements about additional funding later this month.

The money will go mostly to the organization and marketing of the Games. Any facility upgrades that need to be made will be approached with separate fund-raising efforts, he said.

"We're always looking to what we'd really like to see, but also the absolute minimum we need," Popp said. "We're hoping to achieve what we'd like to see, but we are prepared to make it work with the minimum."

Regardless of the final result of fund-raising, Popp said he expects the Games to bring in more than they cost.

And, he said, he hopes the long-term benefit of the Games will be more than financial.

"We're hoping to leave the Kenai Peninsula a stronger, better place," he said. "We want this to be a long-lasting opportunity for the borough as a whole and return the investment of corporations and state, local and federal governments two to three times over."

Rick Gillingham uses a new Bombardier Plus MP snow groomer Sunday to prepare a slope for skiers at Vista Ridge All Seasons Park near Fort McMurray. The park, which is owned by the Municipality of Wood Buffalo, purchased the groomer so it could prepare its slopes for snowboarders.

Games bring big bucks to communities

Photos by M. Scott Moon Snowboarders and alpine skiers participating the Arctic Winter Games on Sunday dig into stacks of pizzas and chicken wings from a Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada, restaurant. The food was purchased by a local ski club and the the park operators. Participants will require more than 5,000 meals per day during the week-long event.

By JENNI DILLON

Peninsula Clarion

FORT MCMURRAY, Alberta, Canada Kenai Peninsula officials have estimated the 2006 Arctic Winter Games will bring between $10 million and $20 million to the community during the two-week cultural and athletic exchange two years from now.

Such estimates have created both believers and skeptics, but that's just what Fort McMurray, the host community for the 2004 Games, is experiencing this week, with some 6,000 visitors booking flights into the region, renting cars and hotel rooms and patronizing restaurants.

According to 2004 Host So-ciety spokesperson Alain Moore, the society is expecting between $12 million and $15 million in revenue this week specifically from such visitor industry sales.

"I was at a local restaurant yesterday for lunch, and it was buzzing with activity," Moore said Saturday.

Moore said that with Fort McMurray's booming oil industry and related growth, that revenue may not be as important as it would be in other struggling communities.

But, he said, every little bit is welcome.

"With our economy really as strong as it is, this is icing on the cake," he said.

Diane Clewes, general manager of the Best Western Nomad Inn in Fort McMurray, agreed.

She said her business-class hotel commonly is booked solid during weekdays this time of year, with oil industry personnel flying in for the work week. However, she said the tourists in town for the Games are aiding her weekend figures.

"I've had a better weekend because of it," she said, noting that she expects to earn about $80,000 from hotel and restaurant sales exclusively due to Games participants and spectators.

"It's really nice to see this come to the community," she said.

And the Best Western is just one of dozens of hotels in Fort McMurray, all seeing extra business this week.

Bill Popp, the revenue development chair for the 2006 Games, said he expects the influx of money from the Games will bring even more to the Kenai Peninsula.

Unlike Fort McMurray, the peninsula economy has been struggling in recent years with an ever lessening oil boom.

Though the peninsula has a stronger tourism base than Fort McMurray, Popp said the Games revenue will mean even more to area businesses.

According to a report by the Kenai Peninsula Borough's Com-munity and Economic Develop-ment Division, the visitor industry brought in a little more than $70 million in taxable sales in 2002.

The $10 million to $20 million expected to be generated by the Games is 14 percent to 28 percent over and above that annual figure.

"I'm looking around this room and seeing 8,000 people," Popp said prior to Saturday night's opening ceremonies. "I was driving around today and there were kids with shopping bags everywhere. The stores were packed today. It's amazing to see the cash registers ringing.

"We see this as even more meaningful in the impact to the Kenai Peninsula's broader diversified economy."

The expected revenue is only half the financial picture, though.

Moore said the 2004 Host Society also had to raise about $6 million to bring the Games to the area.

Of that, $2.2 million came from government funding partners, including the Municipality of Wood Buffalo, in which Fort McMurray sits, the province of Alberta and the Canadian federal government.

The other $4.1 million was what Moore called "self-generated." About $750,000 came from Games merchandise sales, such as sweatshirts; $450,000 came from ticket sales for the opening and closing ceremonies for the Games; and another $2.9 million $1.3 million in cash and $1.6 million in in-kind services came from local businesses.

That money went to organizing the Games, as well as marketing the event and preparing the community for the influx of people. For example, while many of the venues for the Games sporting events already existed in the area, some had to be added or upgraded.

Moore said the Games committee brought in special grooming machines to create a half-pipe at the local ski hill, which will be used not only at the Games but by area snowboarders for years to come.

Then there was the ATCO Plaza, where the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as several daily awards events, are being held. The giant tent stadium includes elaborate lighting and sound sets, a central stage with rotating capabilities and seating for more than 7,000 people.

The temporary structure was brought in specifically for the Games, Moore said, and it will be taken down after the week's events are finished.

"Our local arena is smaller," Moore explained. "It took a lot of hard work by a lot of people to make this happen."

Popp said similar fund-raising will be necessary for the 2006 Games. He said the Host Society is looking to raise about $5.3 million. Of that, he said about $400,000 will be merchandise and ticket sales, while about $4.9 million is expected to come from corporate sponsorship and government grants, both in cash and in-kind services.

"It's meaningful in-kind. It's the goods and professional services that replace the need to raise money," he said.

Already, Popp said the Games committee has raised about $1.5 million in revenue. He added that the committee expects to make major announcements about additional funding later this month.

The money will go mostly to the organization and marketing of the Games. Any facility upgrades that need to be made will be approached with separate fund-raising efforts, he said.

"We're always looking to what we'd really like to see, but also the absolute minimum we need," Popp said. "We're hoping to achieve what we'd like to see, but we are prepared to make it work with the minimum."

Regardless of the final result of fund-raising, Popp said he expects the Games to bring in more than they cost.

And, he said, he hopes the long-term benefit of the Games will be more than financial.

"We're hoping to leave the Kenai Peninsula a stronger, better place," he said. "We want this to be a long-lasting opportunity for the borough as a hole and return the investment of corporations and state, local and federal governments two to three times over."



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