“Red Deer is Ready” was the motto for our city’s successful bid to host the 2019 Canada Winter Games.
With 550 days left until the massive two-week long event gets underway, organizers are confident the motto will be more than lived up to.
Officials with the 2019 games did a lot of note taking over the past couple of weeks while attending the 2017 Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg.
Lyn Radford, Board Chair for the 2019 Canada Winter Games Host Society, says Winnipeg did an outstanding job of hosting.
“It’s been unbelievable. We were kind of wondering what it was going to be in a larger centre,” she said.
“Winnipeg is 750,000 people. It did take a while for it to catch on, but once it caught on my goodness everybody is over the top with it and cannot believe the quality of both the sport competitions the cultural performances and the volunteers. I cannot say enough about the volunteers in Winnipeg.”
Radford says Winnipeg’s entertainment setup gave her team some inspiration to raise the bar a bit higher.
“They set it up really well they’ve got a really nice area to set up for their cultural events. So that’s made us come back and rethink and look a little more at our plaza area and maybe we need to be a little bit more proactive and build something for Red Deer to have that area available to them for future besides the games.”
After seeing what Winnipeg had to offer, Scott Robinson, CEO for the 2019 Canada Winter Games, feels Red Deer is in great shape when it comes to sports venues.
“We’ve got absolutely some of the best facilities in Canada,” he proclaimed. “Winnipeg has good facilities, of course, for their events - they’re really well set up. But when we compare how we’ve leveraged this opportunity for central Alberta and from a competitive point of view and sport development point of view, Red Deer has done a fantastic job. We’re just excited about showing the country what we’ve got.”
Robinson says his team has known from the start that hosting the games is a huge task, but admits his eyes were opened even more after being in Winnipeg.
“Everybody tells you this going into it, but it’s bigger than you think. It comes to you fast and you really have to be detailed and organized well in advance. You really have to work hard and stay on your deadlines because you’re just not going to have time once you get closer.”
Now that the Winnipeg games are in the rearview mirror it’s already getting down to crunch time for Red Deer organizers.
“It’s really on for us when you think about the turnaround time between summer and winter,” Radford noted. “It’s only 18 months until the winter games. Summer [games] gets the advantage, they get two and a half years but for it’s only 18 months, and it’s coming fast.”
Recruiting more corporate sponsors is on the short-term ‘to do’ list for Red Deer organizers. A number of fundraising events are also in the works.
“You’ve just got to work hard leading into it,” Robinson noted. “We know we are going to have a phenomenal group of volunteers that are going to deliver the games. But it’s the organization and the preparation that you need that’s really critical.”
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