General manager: Games comes to the peninsula once in a lifetime

Gearing up for a rare event

Posted: Friday, October 14, 2005

Five months from now, hundreds of athletes from across Earth’s near-polar regions will be locked in spirited competition at venues from Girdwood to Homer, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for sports enthusiasts on the Kenai Peninsula, said the general manager of the 2006 Arctic Winter Games Host Society.

Speaking at the Oct. 11 Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meeting, Tim Dillon noted there are only 145 days left before opening ceremonies at the Soldotna Sports Center on March 5.

Planning is just about complete and some 51 committees are up and running, he said. Although the numbers are still in flux, at this point it appears some 1,879 athletes and coaches will attend. The final numbers will be available by the end of October, Dillon said.

Fund-raising efforts are going well, he said, but work remains to be done.

So far, the host society has signed contracts with 47 sponsor organizations committed to contributing $5,000 or more in cash or in-kind services. Eight more such contracts are pending, and the host society staff is working with 17 more corporate sponsor prospects, Dillon told the assembly.

“People are just rolling up their sleeves” and doing what needs to be done, he said.

A volunteer rally recently held in Kenai was a success, Dillon said, adding that a similar event will be held soon in Soldotna. About 3,000 volunteers will be needed to help put on the Games, he said.

Local and international Games’ organizers will meet Oct. 27-29 at the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska in Kenai, Dillon said. Immediately after that, he and his staff expect to make final changes to the overall budget.

“By then, we will know what, if any, changes need to be made in the plans and if something is going to cost us more money” than expected, he said.

While Dillon noted he did anticipate some “significant budget adjustments,” he said some of those are of the good sort. It appears that in-kind services provided by sponsors will free up cash already budgeted for other uses, he said.

He warned that the budget is likely to “go a little bit into the red” just prior to the Games, but that’s because the host society anticipates taking in a significant portion of anticipated revenues from ticket sales yet to occur. The host society fully expects to meet its budgetary goals, he said.

Tickets for the events scheduled to begin March 5 and run through March 11 will go on sale around the end of November. It is expected that the opening ceremonies will be televised live. Tickets to that event will be limited, however, perhaps 1,800 to 2,000, he said.

“The Games will not be coming back this way anytime soon,” he said.

Indeed, they aren’t scheduled to occur in Alaska for another 12 years, and it is unlikely the peninsula would get them again over other locations in Alaska.

“I’m sure our friends up north will be putting in a bid,” he said.

Realistically, Dillon said, the Games aren’t likely to be on the peninsula again for a generation or more. He said the events set for March are a rare opportunity not to be missed.

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