Wheels rolling for 2006 games

Area representatives visit next year's site

Posted: Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dale Bagley was in Fort McMurray, Canada, last week, site of the 2004 Arctic Winter Games, attending a meeting of team committees, representatives of the games' host society and AWG International Committee organizers.

Bagley has since left Canada for Akita, Japan, the Kenai Peninsula Borough's sister city, for a meeting there and is expected to return by Nov. 13. He will report on both aspects of his trip when he returns.

However, Bill Popp, the borough's oil and gas industry liaison, who also serves as chair of the 2006 AWG Host Society's Revenue Development Committee, said preparations for hosting the 2006 games on the Kenai Peninsula are moving ahead and appear to be further along in the process than organizers of the 2004 games were at this point. Those games are scheduled to begin in February.

"We are very excited about how things are progressing," Popp said Monday. "People are pretty darned busy. The committees are getting organized and structured and getting to work on the basic tasks. We've been looking at the time-line for the 2004 Wood Buffalo Games (in Fort McMurray) and at their organizational history. We appear to be a little ahead of the curve."

Popp said Bagley was joined by the borough's Community and Economic Development Division Business Manager Jack Brown, school district Superintendent Donna Peterson and Andrew Carmichael, the director of the Soldotna Parks and Recreation Department.

"We go there and meet to get the latest and greatest on the 2004 games," Popp said. "It is our first opportunity to get a firsthand, in-depth look at the 2004 systems. It's also a fact-finding mission to get answers to questions the various (2006 Host Society) committees have developed."

Among the questions and issues organizers here want answers to or advice on involve how venues are selected and outfitted, how Wood Buffalo volunteers are coordinated, how marketing is being done, and steps toward finalizing logo requirements so merchandising can begin here, Popp said.

Meanwhile, fund-raising efforts continue, and the local host society is expected to announce corporate and government funding in the near future.

The games already have $173,000 in donations, mostly of the in-kind variety, which Popp said "is as good as money." Donors include McDonald's of the Peninsula, Alaska Communications Systems, Print Works and KSRM Radio Group.

"We have $4.9 million left to raise," Popp said. "About $400,000 of that will come from merchandise and event revenues. The remaining $4.5 million we are working on raising from private and government sources."

The Host Society hired an administrative assistant in August. Terri Nettles said she is busy organizing the office, now located in the PRISM Building on Marathon Road, and working with the nine committees that are engaged in different facets of the preparations. The Administration Committee will handle administrative duties, finance and legal matters. The Care and Comfort Committee, chaired by Peterson, will see to securing accommodations, security, food service, transportation, medical, registration and accreditation issues, while the Culture and Ceremonies Committee will handle opening and closing ceremonies, cultural events, awards, as well as welcoming and bidding farewell.

A Facilities Committee, chaired by Carmichael, will look to facilities and equipment, be mission liaison and see to the outfitting of venues, both for competition and noncompetition events.

An Information Technology Committee will develop the games Web site, establish computer systems and telecommunications and record results of the games.

Marketing will be handled by the Marketing Committee, which will cover merchandising, advertising, graphics and signs, broadcast and media relations and ticketing.

As its name implies, the Revenue Development Commit-tee, chaired by Popp, will handle revenue issues and special events, while the Sports Committee will oversee the 20 competitive events played at the Arctic Winter Games as well as administer officials.

Finally, a Volunteer and Proto-col Committee will deal with special guests, language issues, special events and organizing volunteers.

Also on the host society's agenda is filling some vital positions. The organization should have a general manager by December. According to Popp, the group will interview "three world-caliber candidates" later this month after the mayor returns from Japan. Popp said the names would be released before the interviews.

Sometime in 2004, the host society will fill the positions of marketing director, volunteer coordinator and possibly a cultural programming director. A sports director -- probably the busiest job beyond that of the general manager -- also will be hired in 2004, Popp said.

Organizers are energized for the games, he said.

"We've got a bunch of motivated and excited people going full speed ahead," he said.

Popp also said the AWG Host Society is looking toward the 28th Peninsula Winter Games set for January. Popp sees those games as an opportunity for a rehearsal of some of the systems that must be in place to host the 2006 Winter Games. The 2005 and 2006 peninsula games could be full-scale dress rehearsals, he said.

"We have an informal relationship at this point. We are working to help with their needs," Popp said.

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