Kenai Peninsula to host '06 Arctic Winter Games

Posted: Tuesday, March 18, 2003

It was nearly three years ago Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dale Bagley reported to the Borough Assembly that he was going to explore the feasibility of the Peninsula hosting the 2006 Arctic Winter Games (AWG). When he returned to his office from vacation last week, the Peninsula Clarion headline that greeted him read, "We win the Games." There are now 1,100 days in counting before the beginning of the 2006 Winter Games on the Kenai Peninsula, "This has been a long time in coming, and a lot of people put a lot of work into this joint community effort. It was a great day for the Peninsula when the International Committee was here for the site visit, and this is truly wonderful news, I'm very glad," said Bagley.

The official word came in a press release from Gerry Thick, president of the AWG International Committee. The Peninsula bid won out over competing proposals from the communities of Fairbanks and Juneau. To many of the volunteers it was like David slaying Goliath. While many are excited about the potential economic benefits of the Games, Mayor Bagley sees other values as well. "I look at it as a collaboration of Soldotna, Kenai, Homer as well as the areas outside of the cities, this will be a great thing to unite our entire community to do this event," said Bagley. During the site visit by the International Committee in January, the Peninsula community showed that unified effort in a red carpet greeting at the Kenai Airport that was attended by city mayors and state legislators from across the Peninsula. Some 2,000 volunteers showed up to greet the committee at KCHS Auditorium. The committee later had a police escorted tour of facilities on the Central Peninsula.

Now the official members of the bid committee face the next step toward March 2006. Jack Brown, who was the bid director for the Borough, said that it was sort of like moose hunting, once you have the moose down, the work really begins. "We stayed focus on the bid, and refused to think much past that so we wouldn't lose that focus, so now it's time to roll our sleeves up and start looking at all the details of how we are going to make this happen. First thing will be getting someone on board to spearhead the effort," said Bagley. As far as capitol projects Bagley said that unlike the Olympic Games, most of the infrastructure is already in place, "One thing we will need to push for pretty hard is to get a biathlon range by 2006, everything else is already planned to happen by 2006 anyway," added Bagley, who will be out of office when the Games open in 2006, but is excited about the legacy that he will have helped to create for the Peninsula.

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