Thursday, January 24, 2008

Canada Games will be P.E.I.'s chance to shine on national stage

Canada Games will be P.E.I.'s chance to shine on national stage
The Journal Pioneer

Six thousand volunteers, a $33-million budget, 4,400 athletes and 2,500 coaches and other officials.

The logistics of the 2009 Canada Summer Games are staggering, as is the economic impact, pegged at a cool $100 million plus.

The Games will make big waves in Canada's smallest province, according to Joseph Spriet, president of the 2009 Canada Games Host Society and Wayne Carew, vice president of the Host Society's Friends of the Games Division.

They were guest speakers at the 108th President's Annual Dinner, organized by the Greater Summerside Chamber of Commerce and held last night at the Loyalist Lakeview Resort.

"There are one million athletes out there who want to be part of that 4,400," said Carew.

"It's almost like a game of Survivor, " he joked.

"Only this is real. They want to go to P.E.I. That's the last thing they think about when they go to bed at night, and the first thing they think about in the morning."

That represents a priceless marketing opportunity for the Island, as do the 150 hours of broadcast time devoted to the Games over the two-week span, Aug. 15-29, said Carew.

But Carew urged business people to think beyond that time frame, since athletes, their families, coaches, support staff and corporate sponsors will be arriving at least a week before the event and lingering a week later.

"So the two-week Games becomes a four-week extravaganza - a four-week opportunity for chamber members.

"This will be the largest event P.E.I. has ever hosted."

There are many firsts in the 2009 Canada Summer Games, including the fact events will be staged in 18 communities from one tip of P.E.I. to the other.

"Eighteen communities, 40 specific event venues," including Summerside and the city's wellness centre, said Carew.

"We feel it's going to be the largest attended Canada Games ever."

He went on to say one of the greatest challenges facing Islanders in the 2009 Games is ensuring future "Heather Moyses" aren't denied their chance to reach the world stage because of a lack of resources.

Every "nickel" over the seven million dollars Island organizers have committed to raise from corporate sponsors would remain on the Island, to help Island athletes achieve their dreams, said Carew.

Parents should think through the details of a big-kid bed and make sure there are no other events or big changes coming up soon such as beginning day care or weaning off the bottle.

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