Monday, February 09, 2009

Games People Play

The Ontario Senior Games Winterfest 2009 kick off in Brockville this Wednesday. GTA types who promote the Pan Games should pay attention.

According to a story in the Brockville Recorder and Times by Michael Jiggins the local economy will be helped by the games.

Games general manager Laurence Bishop says that athletes will provide an $850,000 boost to the economy before they head home after Fridays’ closing ceremonies.

Jiggins quotes restaurant owner John Ackerman who believes the Games "are a great idea in these economic times.”

"Especially for the restaurants, January and February is your slow time of the year. ... And it will help all of the other businesses, too, people will be out shopping. I'm all for it."

Local hotels are fully booked. Occupancy rates typically run around 35 per cent in February. As well up to 70% of the 850 participants will stay an extra night after the games finish. Many participants will enjoy the town and come back.


Meanwhile in the GTA politicians and George F. Babbitt booster types like the Hamilton Spectator fantasize about the supposed benefits of the 2015 Pan Games. In fact, there is much evidence of the detrimental effects such mega events have on host cities. (see Helen Lenskyj’s “The Best Olympics Ever?)

The Pan Am games began in 1951. Popular in Central and South American. sadly, few North Americans – including many top athletes and TV networks - seem to care today..

I don’t always agree with Hamilton Councillor Sam Merulla. This time I do.
Last week Merulla argued unsuccessfully to strike the $235 million Pan Am Games bid from a list of city of Hamilton infrastructure projects. A big part of those dollars would build a new stadium as the current facility - once called Civic Stadium built for the 1930 British Empire Games track events.- can’t accommodate track and field. Is this the kind of “infrastructure” we need for our cities?

Back to Brockville

Longtime Brockville hotelier Bhagwant Parmar tells reporter Jiggins that the Games are about much more than dollars and cents. Winterfest encourages active, healthy lifestyles that improve people's quality of life.

The advantage of that type of tourism, he noted, is it doesn't require millions of dollars to build attractions (bolding mine).

As I said we could learn something from this week’s games in Brockville. These smaller community building events should be the way to go.