City OKs bid for games

Juneau competing for Arctic Winter Games in 2006

Posted: Friday, October 04, 2002

Juneau's bid to host the 2006 Arctic Winter Games will be in the mail soon.

The Juneau Assembly on Thursday unanimously approved a resolution supporting Juneau's bid to host the winter sports competition and cultural gathering in 2006. The circumpolar games bring together about 2,000 competitors and spectators from Alaska, Canada, Russia and Greenland every two years.

A task force appointed by Mayor Sally Smith has been working on Juneau's bid package for the past several months to meet an Oct. 15 deadline, said the panel's chairman and Juneau Assembly member Jim Powell.

"We think we have an excellent chance," he said.

Juneau's experience in hosting cultural programs, along with its community spirit, gyms and outdoor facilities, make it an attractive place to hold the games, said George Smith, a board member with the Arctic Winter Games Team Alaska who has been helping with the bid. The games have had a positive economic and social impact on other host cities, he said.

The next step is a visit from the Arctic Winter Games International Committee this winter. A decision should come soon after, Powell said.

The task force estimated it would cost Juneau about $4.4 million to host the games. Community donations and sponsorships should make up $1 million in revenue with another $1 million expected from merchandise and ticket sales. The city would contribute $550,000 in cash to host the games with another $200,000 in in-kind support.

In the past, the state has contributed $1.6 million for the games, although future funding isn't assured, according to the city.

At a meeting last week, Assembly member Dale Anderson suggested the city proceed cautiously. He said he wasn't trying to throw "a wet rag on things," but was worried the Assembly was committing the town for $4 million. Assembly member Ken Koelsch said he was concerned that the city might not get $1.6 million from the state if it is chosen to host the games.

The budget includes $800,000 for two temporary ice rinks and equipment at Dimond Park. The Treadwell Arena, Juneau's first indoor ice rink, should be finished by year-end, but more rinks will be needed to host all the curling, speed-skating, hockey and figure-skating events, the task force found.

The Arctic Winter Games also feature basketball, indoor soccer, table tennis, volleyball, wrestling, alpine skiing, snowboarding and cross-country skiing, along with such traditional Arctic sports as the arm pull and kneel jump.

The city also could spend about $2.1 million for a grandstand at Dimond Park that could be used for other community gatherings, Powell said. In addition, a day-lodge expansion at the Eaglecrest Ski Area would benefit the games, he said. The project was part of a $15 million bond proposition that was failing by 31 votes after Tuesday's city election. Absentee and questioned ballots will be counted later today.

Alaska has been selected as the site for the 2006 games. Fairbanks and the Kenai Peninsula Borough also are expected to submit bids, Powell said. The 2004 Arctic Winter Games will be in Wood Buffalo, Fort McMurray, Northern Alberta.

Joanna Markell can be reached at joannam@juneauempire.com.



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