New executive director excited about Games

Posted: Sunday, April 17, 2005

Tim Dillon has been keeping plenty busy during his first three weeks on the job as the general manager for the 2006 Arctic Winter Games.

Dillon was hired last month to replace Loren Smith as the head of an event expected to bring 2,000 athletes and coaches #&151; as well as an expected 5,000 spectators #&151; to the Kenai Peninsula next March.

In an interview Thursday, he said the majority of his time has been spent working with sponsors and trying to make sure everything is going according to schedule as the Games enter the home stretch.

"My job is sort of like an orchestra leader," Dillon said. "I make sure when we're all playing, we're playing in harmony."

The biggest responsibility he has now, he said, is ensuring the different Games committees are communicating well with each other and making sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to planning issues.

"It's time for the committees to talk to committees," he said.

With less than a year to prepare for the Games, much of the preliminary work has been taken care of. Dillon said his goal coming in as a new general manager isn't to so much make changes as to ensure things continue to go smoothly.

"You're not going to look to change the organization," he said. "It's more to see who's doing what and what's falling through the cracks."

Dillon said most of the venues needed to stage the Games have been completed or are in the process of being finished. A new $800,000 Homer ice rink recently was completed on the Homer Spit, and upgrades to add 5 kilometers of trails to the Tsalteshi Trails complex is ongoing.

"The venues are pretty much set," he said.

Dillon said the biggest challenge for him now is lining up volunteers to help out with Games-related projects #&151; something that's needed now as well as next winter.

"I'm trying to make sure people know they can volunteer now, that they don't need to wait," he said.

In addition to lining up volunteers, Dillon is spending much of his time talking to current and potential sponsors, a job he said he's more than comfortable with given his background helping organize large events in the past. When Dillon was the athletic director at the University of Alaska Anchorage, he was responsible for helping bring in Carrs as a sponsor for the Great Alaska Shootout.

He said the contacts he made while at UAA have helped him forge new relationships with sponsors for the Arctic Winter Games.

"I'm very familiar with the Alaska market," he said.

As he's gotten familiar with his new job, Dillon said what's struck him most about the upcoming event is the level of community support he's seen thus far. He pointed to an ongoing effort by the Peninsula Quilter's group to sew 1900 "Spirit bears" to give to each athlete who participates in the event.

"You just don't see that in some other events," he said. "It warms your heart."

With things going smoothly, Dillon said he plans to spend much of the spring getting things lined up for the next International Committee visit on June 11.

That's when the committee will see how things are progressing and make some recommendations for any changes that need to be made.

Dillon said he thinks the visit will go well. With most of the planning for the Games entering its final phase, he said he believes everything is on target and added he's confident the peninsula has put itself in a position to host a truly memorable event.

"These Games will be the best ever," he said. "It's that plain and simple."

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