Photo courtesy City of Richmond
Richmond has eyes for 2020.
Rapidly gaining a reputation for being first-rate sport hosts, the city is in celebration mode after landing the 2020 55+ BC Games.
Recognizing sport tourism as a key sector market, the city has in recent years leveraged being a venue city for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games into successfully becoming a prominent player to stage provincial, national and international competitions. The Richmond Sport Hosting Incentive Grant Program is a $100,000 per year grant program developed to provide financial support for sport event organizers to successfully bring and host high level sports events in Richmond. The grant program has assisted over 220 events since 2010, and has significantly demonstrated support for city council’s 2014-2018 term goal of a supportive economic development environment.
On the heels of hosting the International Skating Union’s Junior Grand Prix of Skating event in September, and continuing to prepare to again host the world at the CARHA Hockey World Cup in 2020, news that Richmond will stage the BC Seniors Games for the second time in 11 years (it also hosted the Games in 2009), has drawn considerable excitement.
“I think it’s going to be great for Richmond,” says longtime Richmond Sports Council chair Jim Lamond, who oversaw the 2020 55+ BC Games bid along with Coun. Bill McNulty and former Richmond Soccer official Roger Barnes. “With people like Bill and Roger, it was a good bid, and I’m confident the Games will be bigger and better than any we’ve ever had.”
Lamond expects upwards of 5,000 athletes from around the province will compete in the annual, multi-sport competition celebrating active and healthy seniors. They will compete in upwards of 29 activities, from pickle ball to track and field.
The 2020 Games will be a compact event, with all venues within 10 kilometres of the Games Village at Minoru Park. Besides iconic venues like the Richmond Olympic Oval and Minoru Arenas, will be the new Minoru Centre for Active Living.
In 2017, an economic impact study found that the 55+ BC Games provide an impact of over $3.3 million to the host community. In addition, host communities will benefit from the development of capacity to host large multi-sport events through training volunteers, and improve infrastructure through the Games Legacy program.
Lamond said Richmond is fortunate to have a volunteer force second to none, with the likes of Donna Marsland, Stu Corrigal and Bob Jackson leading the way. Lamond says all told nearly 2,000 volunteers were mobilized. He anticipates a similar number to come forward in 2020.
The 2009 Games turned a profit, from which a legacy fund of about $69,000 was established. The largest Games to date, they attracted 3,800 athletes aged 55 or older.
In 2020, half of Richmond’s population is expected to be over 50. McNulty says he anticipates a potential economic spinoff from four days of activities in 2020 could generate in excess of $4 million.
Cindy Simpson, president of the BC Seniors Games Society, says Zone 4 has a history of attracting a strong contingent to the Games, and anticipates the pattern to continue in 2020.
Says Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, “Richmond is very excited to be welcoming the 55+ BC Games in 2020. This event will further build on our impressive legacy for sport hosting.”
Helping to raise the profile of sports in Richmond is nothing new for Lamond, who has been doing so for decades. But overseeing activities like the BC Games, he says, helps “keep you going.”
Describing the recent phone call he received from the province announcing that Richmond was awarded the Games as being “quite an honour,” Lamond said “now we’ll start working on (the details of hosting). We’ve got more or less a year to get it done, but I’m sure these Games will be something Richmond will be proud of.”