Volume 95, Issue 46

Thursday, November 22, 2001
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Council gives Lawless an earful

Stop consuming you capitalist pig

Much maligned SSSC changes constitution

Anthrax strikes again

USC considers charity

Yes! London might get old-timer hockey

Stressed out TAs now online

News Briefs

Yes! London might get old-timer hockey

By Joel Brown
Gazette Staff

London's city council has approved a $450,000 plan to bring more sports tournaments to the city.

After a decision made at Monday's council meeting, Tourism London will now have the funds to bid for at least 39 provincial, national and international events between 2002 and 2006, including the 2005 World Transplant Games and 2004 World Old-timers Hockey Championship.

"With the success London has had in being awarded sporting events, they are worthwhile looking into and possibly investing in," said sport manager for Tourism London Bob Graham.

Graham said he believes the bid for the transplant games will cost $50,000, which will include sending a London bidding entourage to Japan. The city will benefit from the games because the 2,000 athletes who will make London their home during the nine-day event will pump a possible $5 million into London's economy, he said.

Currently, sports account for 12 per cent of the city's tourism income, Graham added, noting the push for new events could drastically increase that total.

Without the strong push for tournaments and other sporting festivities, Graham believes recent city initiatives to boost their sports facilities and human resources will go to waste.

The city expects to spend $41 million for the arena-entertainment complex on Talbot Block and has promised $37.5 million in spending for an upgrade of London's 14 ice rinks and the addition of six new rinks, he said.

Another $2 million will be spent on improving turfs, lighting and maintenance at 28 of the city's soccer fields, he said.

Although he would like to see the city have more power to choose what events will be bid on, Ward six city councillor David Winninger said he supported the plan and hopes future events will be as successful as last summer's Canada Games.

Ward one councillor Sandy Levin, who said he has yet to see thorough reports on the Canada Games financial impact, said he voted against the plan because he believes the value of sports to tourism is overstated.

"We had a chance to save the taxpayers money and we missed that chance," Levin said. "We'll end up having to raise future taxes. It's an example of the councilors not thinking about what they're doing and they'll be the ones who end up complaining later of having to raise taxes."

Western economics professor John Palmer said he believes the economic benefit of sports to tourism is minimal.

"They should be cutting taxes or putting flowers in the park," he said.

Palmer said much of the money that is brought into the city by athletes and spectators quickly finds its way out of town via hotel owners who are not Londoners and food that is brought in from the outside.

"They have no benefit for the unemployed person who is on the street," he said.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001