EDITORIAL – Tournament Capital investment 20 years ago has paid off
An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
TWENTY YEARS AGO, the people of Kamloops went to the polls to decide whether or not to spend almost $38 million on a bold new plan to expand sports and recreation facilities in the city.
It was a hard-fought referendum, and the “Yes” side gathered nervously in City Hall that night in 2003 as the results came in. There was jubilation when the final count was announced and the vote showed 54 per cent of the ballots cast were in favour.
As the Scotties wind down, and as the city prepares to host the Memorial Cup, the citizens of Kamloops can look back with pride at their willingness to invest in their community. Though those two events are taking place in the Sandman Centre — originally named Riverside Coliseum — they illustrate the overwhelming success of the Tournament Capital concept.
The arena had been approved 15 years before the 2003 vote. The idea of turning Kamloops into a mecca for sports tournaments was developed between the two referenda.
The first step was to brand the city as the Tournament Capital of B.C. But that didn’t seem ambitious enough, so we became the Tournament Capital of Canada, later changed to Canada’s Tournament Capital for marketing reasons.
Those who initially opposed investing in sports and recreation facilities in a big way were soon grateful they hadn’t defeated those projects. The Tournament Capital brand has been an undeniable success, bringing in well over a hundred tournaments every year but also providing opportunities for local folks unmatched anywhere else in the country.
Certainly, the next step in amenities is to get a performing arts centre off the ground and that one remains a challenge, but our Tournament Capital moniker, and the facilities we built to make it a reality, are something to boast about.
Life is good in the Tournament Capital, and we can thank, in part, the residents who said yes instead of no 20 years ago.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops, alternate TNRD director and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a recipient of the Jack Webster Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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