Breen says St. John’s interested in Summer Games nine years from now, but as part of a regional approach

St. John’s is still interested in staging the 2025 Canada Summer Games, but if the city is to play host to the country’s largest amateur sports event, it will do so only if the northeast Avalon region is on board.

Danny Breen

That news, coming from St. John’s city councillor Danny Breen, comes on the heels of Tuesday’s announcement in Ontario that two of the four bids received for the 2021 Games have come from regions.

In addition to Ottawa and Sudbury, the Niagara Region — which encompasses, among other centres, Niagara Falls, St. Catharines, Welland, Port Colbourne and Fort Erie — and the combined cities of Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge and Guelph have submitted bids for the Games five years from now.

Newfoundland and Labrador was originally slotted to play host to the 2021 Summer Games — the Canada Games go on a province-to-province rotation — but switched with Ontario, which was to hold the 2025 event. Newfoundland passed on ’21 because government decided there was not enough time to get things — namely infrastructure — in place.

There has been some chatter the province may take a pass on the Canada Games nine years from now because of the difficult financial situation in which it currently finds itself.

However, Breen said the city is still talking with government about hosting the rest of country in 2025, but he said Wednesday it will have to be done by taking a regional approach, meaning Mount Pearl, Paradise and Conception Bay South would be invited to share in staging some sports, and, it stands to reason, putting some money towards the operational budget.

“We’d like to take a regional approach, not unlike fire services, water and waste management,” Breen said.

Holding sporting events in other towns and communities outside the host city is not unusual. At the 2013 Summer Games in Sherbrooke, Que., the nearby communities of Lennoxville and Magog staged some events, as did Dartmouth and Lower Sackville, N.S., when Halifax hosted the 2011 Winter Games, although all three centres are technically part of one municipality.

In P.E.I. in 2009,  Summerside was the main host for the first week of the Summer Games, while Charlottetown had the honours for the second week, although some sporting events were held in Kensington, New London and Montague.

The 2003 Winter Games were a true regional event, with the northern New Brunswick cities of Campbellton and Bathurst — situated 110-kilometres apart — co-hosting the games, with numerous other smaller communities, including one in the nearby province of Quebec, also involved.

“There have been no major discussions (with other levels of government), but the Canada Games is not something we’re ruling out,” Breen said.

“But again, if it’s something we’re going to do, we have to do it with the entire region in mind.”

For the most part, facilities appear to be in place, although there is a need for a track and field complex to accommodate thousands of spectators for the opening and closing ceremonies, and an aquatic facility with a regulation size 50-metre pool.

The Aquarena was built for the 1977 Canada Summer Games in St. John’s — the only other time the city staged the Games; Corner Brook played host to the 1999 Winter Games — but it would have to undergo a massive renovation for 2025.

“What we would need is a study of our recreation facilities … here’s what we have, and here’s what we need,” said Breen, who acknowledged that while they won’t have any affect or impact on the Games, a couple or three hockey rinks and another indoor Field Turf facility such as the Techniplex are needed in the area.

The last Canada Games were held in 2015 when Prince George, B.C. staged the Winter Games.

According to Prince George final report, the total Games expenses came in at $46,749,484, of which $19,166,739 were capital expenses.

The Games achieved their financial targets, with $37,202,039 coming in from all levels of government, $9,747,445 from the public sector, $7,272,777 from sponsorship, $1,643,580 from ticket sales, $151,584 in merchandise sales and $679,504 in other revenue.

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