Posted by: Alan Halberstadt | October 6, 2013

A Frugality Test For Windsor Council

As far as I know, no local media outlet has investigated why Niagara Falls pulled its bid to host the 2014 Ontario Summer Games.

A simple Google Search would have provided the answer, seen below in an October 3 article in the Niagara Falls Review. Essentially, Niagara Regional Council withdrew when the Games organizers would not provide a cap on how much municipal taxpayers could pay if the Games ran a deficit.

On Monday night, Mayor Eddie Francis will be asking Windsor City Council to do what Niagara Region Council wouldn’t do. The Council report, authored by the mayor and not signed by anyone in administration, notes on Page 5 that the municipal exposure,” to be offset by sponsorships, grants and other income,” is $1,587,000.

Region frugality sinks group’s Summer Games bid

http://www.niagarafallsreview.ca/2013/10/03/region-frugality-sinks-groups-summer-games-bid

By Jeff Bolichowski, The Standard

 Thursday, October 3, 2013 10:45:17 EDT AM

A regional council spending cap caused a Niagara business group to pull out of the hunt to host the 2014 Ontario Summer Games.

The Niagara Sports Commission sought regional council’s support for bidding to host the games earlier this year. But though organizers wanted an unconditional financial guarantee, regional councillors and staffers wanted a cap on how much Niagara Region could pay if the games ran a deficit.

“When we realized we couldn’t meet all the requirements for the games, we withdrew the bid,” said sports commission executive director Bram Cotton.

“(Council) wanted to cap it. The requirement of the Sport Alliance Ontario is an unlimited guarantee,” he said. But he said the sport commission backed out this past summer “based on what councillors were saying and what staff sort of took from that.”

He said Niagara had not won the bidding, but the field had been narrowed down and the region was still in the running.

That’s contrary to recent media reports suggesting Windsor will bid for the games after Niagara won but turned the event down. Cotton said the sport commission, a not-for-profit group focused on using sport to spark economic development, led the bidding and had not been awarded the games yet.

But Sports Alliance Ontario CEO Blair McIntosh said negotiations were beginning to bring the games here.

“We were prepared to enter into those final negotiations to select Niagara,” he said.

“They were our choice at that time,” he said, but ultimately could not meet the qualifications.

Chris McQueen, the Region’s acting treasurer, said he recommended council either not underwrite the games or limit their contribution to a $30,000 grant.

“That arrangement comes with financial risk that I don’t think should be borne by the taxpayer,” McQueen said. He said not becoming a guarantor was not a reflection on the event or the venue, but a matter of prudence.

McIntosh said it’s standard for the games to seek the guarantee, which sees the host municipality cover any losses the event might incur.

Cotton figured the games could have sparked $6.1 million in economic spinoff. He said the games have not lost money within the last five years at a minimum.

“The Ontario Summer Games would have had a very large economic impact down here in Niagara Region,” he said.

“It doesn’t mean we’re never going to bid on it again.”

Councillors agreed in May to underwrite the event if the sport commission won the bidding, but asked Region staffers to come back with dollar figures.

Cotton said he hoped the sports commission would be able to pursue the games in the future.

“I think Windsor would be a great host for them,” he said. “I think they’re doing a great job.”

McIntosh said the Region had a strong bid and has the infrastructure “to host our games in the future.”

 

 

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Responses

  1. If you go to the Niagara Falls Review article, there is a poll on whether setting a cap was the right thing to do. I entered my opinion and discovered 71% of respondents thought yes.

  2. I actually can see the benefit of a sports tourism strategy.
    With the facilities we have just built, with the goal of making the city liveable, with the health of Windsor being one of the worst in the country it could be a game changer for how we are perceived by ourselves and others.

    HOWEVER

    1. if thats the strategy that we are going to follow then it should be made a focus and regional buy-in should occur on our vision, goal and principals at the outset instead of each and every bid being made on some ad hoc basis.
    2. If sports tourism is our goal then why are we whining about the Via Italia Bike race and funding of BUMP.
    3. If sports tourism is our goal then why are we wasting money that should be put towards that on Wrestlemania and Grand Prix bids.

  3. Alan,
    If you check the CSTA (Canadian Sports Tourism Alliance) website this morning, the Summer Games bid seems to be going begging. It has devolved into a one-time, no bid opportunity, today only (shipping and handling extra). And only $1,600,0000! But wait! If you act immediately the OSPA will throw in STEAM (Sport Tourism Economic Assessment Model) for free! But act now!. A place on the “WORLD STAGE” (Ontario version) awaits.


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