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Facing major work and a ticking clock, Canada Games committee confident St. John's will be ready for 2025

اخبارالعرب 24-كندا:الجمعة 2 ديسمبر 2022 06:06 صباحاً Two years and eight months. 140 weeks. Just under 1,000 days.

No matter how you frame it, that's all the time left before St. John's welcomes the country's top young athletes for the 2025 Canada Summer Games.

In that time, organizers need to make sure a brand new, $40-million track and field complex is built, the Aquarena pools are refurbished, and work is done on the tennis facility. 

The province hasn't release a plan for the tennis facility or the Aquarena — though it has budgeted $9 million for the pool work. 

But organizers are confident the work will be done on time.

"Not only will we be ready .. .our subtitle is 'best games ever,'" co-chairs Kim Keating and Karl Smith said stepping over each others' words when asked if the city will be ready. 

St. John's mayor Danny Breen shares their sentiment.

"This is gonna be a tremendous event," he said. "We're going to be able to provide the athletes and the visitors that come here with an experience of a lifetime."

Fresh out of a board meeting about the Games, the trio sat down to talk about an event the city hasn't hosted since 1977.

Smith admits there is a still a lot of work left to do. 

"We're feeling pretty comfortable," he said. 

"We're not cavalier, of course, but there's a ton of work left to do. We got a plan in place and we got some great people in place too."

2025 Canada Games Host Society Co-Chairs Kim Keating and Karl Smith, both volunteers, were hand picked by Mayor Danny Breen. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

One of the missing pieces of infrastructure — the track and field complex and high-performance training announced in November — should have a request for proposals put out soon, said Smith.

"We expect to be in the ground next spring. It probably won't be ready a year before the games," he said. "It'll be ready for the games for sure."

The city kicked in more than $10 million for the complex, a move Breen said will pay off through the spinoff created by the games.

"We estimate the economic impact based on games where they've been held in other locations to be around $100 million," said Breen.

"Using the Brier as the benchmark, this would be like having 10 Briers in the two-week period." 

Team Gushue's won its first ever Brier in St. John's in dramatic fashion in 2017. (Devin Heroux/CBC Sports)

The new track and field centre will stand on the site of the original, which was built for the 1977 Canada Summer Games. Breen said the other venues St. John's built for those games have been, or will be, upgraded by 2025.

"St Pat's ballpark and King George V, for example, have undergone significant investments over that time," he said. "Those facilities are going to be used again."

Unlike the old track next to the Aquarena — which was paved over to make a parking lot — the city says this time, the legacy of the new track centre is important. 

"The investments that we make now we want to make sure that after the games that it — that it contributes to athletics and contributes to the community," Breen said. 

Meanwhile, while the venues are slowly coming together the host committee is working on the logo, and will have a mascot for the event. 

But because the host city doesn't start advertising its Games until after the upcoming ones are over — in this case the 2023 Canada Winter Games in Prince Edward Island in February — those won't be public for a while.

Athletes' Village

Unlike some other Canada Games, most events will be close to the athletes' village at Memorial University's residences.

"We're in a really unique position in terms of the closeness of all of our facilities compared to some other Canada Games where there had been satellite villages," Keating said.

"Our furthest competitive place will be actually at the Royal Newfoundland Yacht Club in C.B.S."

Events will be held outside of St. John's but organizers said it'll be one of closest games yet. (CBC/MapTiler)

In addition to that, Paradise will play host to the beach volleyball event, some baseball will be played in Mount Pearl, open-water swimming will take place in Healey's Pond in Portugal Cove-St. Philips and the cycling event will race through Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove.

"We've had tremendous support from all the municipalities in terms of making sure that the facilities we need are in accordance with the requirements of the Canada Games," said Keating.

Keating is hoping that support will carry forward into 2025.

"We're gonna need 5,000 volunteers," she said. "We're going to have over 5,000 athletes, sports coaches. This is going to be a huge impact for the — for the city."

The Game will be broken up into two separate weeks, 2,500 athletes and coaches showing up each week — all of them hoping to bring home some hardware from at least one of the 18 events being held.

"This is a very inclusive games," Smith said. "We have para sports, we also have Special Olympics and then we have able-bodied athletes as well."

St. John's Mayor Danny Breen said he's excited to show off the city to the rest of Canada. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

While work goes on behind the scenes to get the venues ready for competition, there is also a chance for this province to show off to the rest of Canada. 

"We have a huge opportunity here to really use this as a platform to showcase the amazing cultural talent, musically and otherwise," Keating said.

"We will take advantage of all of that for the opening ceremonies, and actually throughout the festivals that will be held throughout the two weeks that athletes and their families are here."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador



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