With less than a year to go before the Kenai Peninsula hosts the 2006 Arctic Winter Games, officials with the local host society have begun a final push to secure the last bits of funding needed to make sure the international sporting and cultural event goes according to plan.
At a special sponsor's meeting Wednesday at the Aspen Hotel in Soldotna, revenue chair Bill Popp said the Games have raised roughly $4.2 million toward their overall goal of $5.8 million.
"We have about $1.6 million left to raise," Popp told representatives from a number of local companies.
The meeting was held to try and drum up the last amount of support needed to put on the event, which is expected to bring more than 2,000 athletes and more than 5,000 spectators to the peninsula in March of 2006.
Games Executive Director Tim Dillon used the first half of the meeting to explain to the potential and current sponsors just how large an event the games will be. His message was clear: Companies who use the Games as an advertising vehicle stand to cash in big time.
"It's a great marketing tool and a great opportunity," Dillon said.
During the meeting, officials also gave a brief update on the status of a number of areas officials have been working on. Volunteer coordinator Kathy Moore said more than 500 volunteers already have been signed up to help out with the Games, a figure she characterized as "ahead of schedule."
Moore also used the volunteer angle as a way for sponsors to get their workers involved in local activities.
"It's a fantastic way to involve your employees in the community," she said.
Officials passed out copies of a sponsorship packet outlining different levels of contributions that can be made by both businesses and individuals. Popp said levels of support can range from the $100,000 "premier" sponsorship level down to the $5,000 "bronze" level.
Each sponsorship level gives companies a different degree of exposure during the Games, including a wide variety of sponsorship tie-ins, such as displays at the venues, advertising in the Games' Ulu News publication, opportunities for television advertising even the opportunity to present medals.
There also is a "friend of the Games" sponsorship level that's designed for individuals who want to help out.
Popp stressed that anyone wishing to help sponsor is likely to see a substantial return on their investment.
"It's going to be a once-in-a-decade event," he said.
Popp also said that sponsors thinking about making a contribution don't necessarily have to provide cash funding. Support in the way of materials and labor also is needed, he said.
"In-kind is just as good as cash," he said. "If you keep us from spending a dollar by giving us something we need, that's just as good."
Host society officials are confident that sponsors will be getting their money's worth. In fact, Dillon said his goal is for sponsors to be pleased with the event after the participants and spectators have left the area.
"I want to be able to see you all on the street after this is over," he said. "And I don't want you to turn and walk the other way."
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