MEDICINE HAT, AB – It’s been over a year and a half since Medicine Hat hosted the 2016 Alberta Winter Games, but the event’s impact is still being felt today.
As part of a legacy initiative, $50,000 in funding was made available for local sports causes.
And according to Tourism Medicine Hat executive director Jace Anderson, that money will hopefully attract similar events to the city.
“Medicine Hat has a long history of hosting national, provincial, and local sporting events exceptionally well,” said Anderson. “And, we're looking forward to the opportunity, as the tourism board, being a part of supporting those organizations.”
On Monday, the Medicine Hat Alberta Games Society and Medicine Hat Destination Marketing Organization made an appearance at the City’s public services meeting.
They unveiled plans for a Medicine Hat Sport and Event Council, which will help local organizations place bids for major events and tournament.
Games Society chair Ron Webb said the financial impact of these events in Medicine Hat is massive to say the least.
“Some of these events are recognized to both have an international market promotion, marketing component, as well as local, provincial, and national,” said Webb. “This is in the range of $4 to $6 million for many events.”
Of the $50,000 provided by the legacy grant, $25,000 will be allocated to support future event bids while the other half will go towards general operations of the Sport and Event Council.
This past year, Medicine Hat welcomed the Special Olympics Alberta Summer Games and the Canadian Little League Championships to town, while the Canalta Centre is the centre piece of the City’s U-17 World Hockey Challenge bid.
Anderson said the Sport and Event Council would be part of an established non-profit in the Destination Marketing Organization, as to not burden local sports groups.
“They're not looking to form another organization,” he said. “They're not looking to be on another board and be involved in something else. What they're looking for is an opportunity for their passion, for their sport, and their event to be supported in a successful manner.”
“Once they've committed support, we want to be able to promote that over the years to come and build upon the events that they're able to create,” added Webb.
Councillor Les Pearson said while future funding is possible, there would be no immediate use of taxpayer money on this project.
“At this particular time, the City is making no commitments to fund the extra committee,” said Pearson. “But in fact, we've always supported these things.”
In Monday’s meeting, Anderson, Webb, and Dr. Ken Sauer informed members of the public services committee that they could be asking for money in the future once the legacy grant runs out.
Webb added whether it’s sports, arts or entertainment, Medicine Hat can compete with larger cities across Canada.
“We're available to host major events,” said Webb. “We have the facilities, we have the various services to support it, and we're there and we're ready to market that.”
An abridged version of Monday’s pitch will be presented to City Council in the coming weeks, with plans to get the committee running in early 2018.
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