The sign of things -- possibly -- to come was unfurled Friday at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Building, as borough and area officials revealed the borough's bid to bring the 2006 Arctic Winter Games to the peninsula, plus the accompanying logo.
"We're told that a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step," said Soldotna Mayor Dave Carey on Friday at the assembly to present the completed bid package.
"We see this as a way to bring all the communities together and all the people on the peninsula together as well."
A committee of more than 40 people helped put together the bid package that will compete with bids from Juneau and Fairbanks for the 2006 games, when the 10-year cycle returns the event to Alaska. The 1996 Arctic Winter Games was held in Eagle River, and Fairbanks has been the host city twice, in 1988 and 1982. But the committee that put together the borough package is optimistic the Kenai Peninsula will win out in 2006.
"I think word will get back from the people reviewing the package that the Kenai Peninsula has the ability and the desire to succeed at this," said state Sen. Jerry Ward, R-Nikiski.
The nearly 400-page document outlines how the peninsula communities intend to combine resources to host up to 1,600 athletes, coaches and officials, and accommodate the nearly 30 events of the winter games. The document details the blueprints for the peninsula's plans for venues, logistics, security, management and funding for the games.
The plan calls for events to be split up among practice venues in Girdwood, Homer, Nikiski and Kenai with Soldotna being the central location.
Jack Brown, the business development manager for the borough's Community and Economic Development Division, said the 1996 Games in Eagle River cost an estimated $2 million, and he expects the price to be nearly twice that for 2006.
Borough Mayor Dale Bagley said if the peninsula is selected, funding for the games, estimated to range between $3 million and $5 million, also will come from combined efforts from the borough community.
"The (money) we will need is doable," Bagley said. "Since we're working on bringing it here, the borough and cities expect to put money in. The oil companies will probably weigh pretty heavily into the equation as well. The nice thing for the corporations is since this is three years out, you can get them to put in a little at a time."
Bagley said the state has historically contributed to the event, as well, and he expects to look for grants to help fund the event.
Immediately following the ceremony, committee members went back to work rechecking all of the copies to make certain everything was in order.
"We had to make sure all the pages were in the right order and double check for any typos," said borough employee Brandii Ohlsen, who has been dedicated to helping put together the proposal.
She said she was exhausted, having spent about 100 hours for two weeks straight working on the project.
"I'm really excited to be done," she said. "I'll appreciate the rest."
The bid package must be delivered to the Arctic Winter Games site committee by Oct. 15. Andrew Carmichael, Soldotna's parks and recreation director and the games committee sports chair, left Saturday evening to drive with Ohlsen and three other peninsula committee members to deliver the 15 copies of the document to Arctic Winter Games headquarters in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, Canada.
Carmichael said the committee opted for these measures because it had some concerns about the deadline, was wary of mailing and wanted to show the peninsula contingence was willing to go the extra mile.
"It always helps to have a face to go with your 'resume,'" he added.
The games officials in Whitehorse will review the packages from each city and make brief visits to each site in late February or early March before making a final decision. This means the peninsula committee still has more work to do. Carmichael said he was happy to have this stage done, but he could only see one finale to this story.
"It's kind of like giving birth," he said about completing the initial bid. "But hopefully, we won't be done until 2006."
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