With the 2012 Saskatchewan Summer Games in the books, it is now time to focus on the next provincial sporting showcase and all eyes are shifting to Prince Albert.
When the closing ceremonies were held in Meadow Lake on Saturday, the Games Flag was passed on to local representatives, in essence getting the real work under way, although planning for the 2014 Saskatchewan Winter Games has been in progress for quite some time.
“We learned a lot from the current committee (in Meadow Lake),” says Jody Boulet, the City of Prince Albert recreation manager and one of the members of the local organizing committee. “Meadow (Lake) started a bit later. They didn’t hire a games manager until 13 months out and we will be hiring one this fall which will be about 18 months from the games. They wish they would have had a dedicated person sooner.”
“They had a real successful games, but they could have gotten there sooner,” added Boulet.
Several members of the local organizing group, including chair Al Dyer, made a trip to Meadow Lake to observe what that group had in place and Boulet says one of the main features that the Saskatchewan Games Council introduced was a new results package. It appears that things went well, but there will be some tweaking to be done before the 2014 Games are held in Prince Albert.
“There were challenges because it was new,” acknowledged Boulet. “It is something we will have to work on.”
Sponsorship is also taking a new path in recent years as more national companies are getting involved. Local sponsorship will still be relied upon to ensure the games are a success, as will volunteers, but the local committee will be seeing more dollars coming in from outside sources.
Boulet says Prince Albert is in an enviable position because of the facilities already in place in the city. The Saskatchewan Games Council had approached Prince Albert to be the host of the 2012 Summer Games, but a decision was made to hold off even though the city would have been ready.
“We were approached, but it just wasn’t good timing for us,” says Boulet. “It was right in the middle of the fundraising for the Alfred Jenkins Fieldhouse. We didn’t want to fall into the same boat as Moose Jaw when they hosted the 2010 Saskatchewan Winter Games. When they hosted the Games they were also working on their new multiplex facility and from what we hear they lost about $100,000. When we saw that happening, we kind of backed off.”
As it turns out, the decision was the right one because the Prince Albert committee is picking up a lot of signage and result boards from Meadow Lake for a reduced price in addition to having more time to get things in place.
“We are very fortunate to have the facilities we have here,” says Boulet. “We don’t have to come up with any money to build anything. We can concentrate on taking care of the athlete’s experience.”
In addition to receiving the bunk beds used for the athlete’s village in the very near future, and finding a place to store them, the next big obstacle for the host committee is to nail down the exact days the Games will be held. With the school year in Saskatchewan changing to a later start beginning this September, Boulet says the school boards have been approached to confirm when the school break will be held in February of 2014. He says they have been very supportive of finalizing this item and exact dates should be known fairly soon.
A tri-party relationship between the City of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan Games Council and host corporation also has to be finalized and an agreement is currently being put together.
Boulet says the sports schedule will be the same as the one held in Moose Jaw in 2010 and now that they torch has been officially passed to Prince Albert, he says he is getting more excited.
“I’ve been an athlete at these games, and a manager at these games and now it is pretty interesting seeing things from the other side and see it all come together,” says Boulet.
“Our athletes had a pretty good week in Meadow Lake and they are happy with the results,” adds Boulet. “We are looking forward to working with them (Lakeland District for Sport, Culture and Recreation) in 2014. They have been a strong partner of ours.”
Prince Albert last hosted the Saskatchewan Winter Games in 1982 (the city was also host to the 1992 Saskatchewan Summer Games) so it is time to put the city back on the big stage and the local organizing committee will be doing everything they can to make sure the 2014 event is something Saskatchewan’s top grassroots athletes won’t forget.