Volume 91, Issue 53

Tuesday, December 2, 1997



Cost of games rack up high score

By Mark Brown
Gazette Staff

The City of London is confident it will be able to clear the first two hurdles they have encountered since winning their bid to host the 2001 Canada Summer Games.

The London Alliance Host Society and Western recently announced the cost of the games will much higher than originally expected, but think they will be able to meet the challenge. Still, this might be the last track and field championship London will host due to their decision to use artificial turf in Western's new stadium.

"As the centrepiece of the Games [the stadium] just seems inappropriate," said a disappointed Rolf Lund, acting president of Athletics Canada.

All the throwing events including the javelin and shot-put will have to be held outside the new stadium and maybe even some of the jumping events, he said. "People will have to choose which events they want to see. It's unfair to the athletes and to the sport that they would allow this to happen."

Cecil Smith, the executive director of the Ontario Track and Field Association was also upset about the decision to use artificial turf since it does not meet requirements outlined by the OTFA.

It was hoped by hosting the Canada Games, London would receive a legacy enabling the city to host other championships, Smith said. "If it can't stage other championships then what's the point."

One concern was how to maximize the use of the stadium, said Peter Mercer, Western's VP-administration. "Artificial turf will allow for greater continuous use of the stadium."

Despite measures to maintain reasonable costs, the total amount of the Games has increased by 40 per cent since the bid was won. One reason for the increased cost is due to the decision to build a new stadium instead of the original proposal to renovate J. W. Little Stadium, explained Phil Bowman, co-chair of the host society.

Venue enhancement was just one reason for the added cost of the Games, Bowman said. Other reasons for the increased budget estimate include improvements to athlete service areas and to the opening and closing ceremonies.

The budget changes were made after the 1997 Canada Summer Games in Brandon, Manitoba which occurred after London was named host of the 2001 Games.

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Copyright The Gazette 1998