As Rachel Homan’s game winning draw entered, and stopped in the house, it signalled the end to one of the most successful events in North Battleford’s history.
The Meridian Canadian Open made its second stop in the Battlefords over the past week, welcoming fans from across the world to the city to enjoy the six-day event. Throughout the event, it was a culmination of many aspects that set the stage for such a successful end to a great week.
North Battleford Mayor, Ryan Bater, was very proud of the way the community handled themselves with all eyes on the city.
“It was an incredibly successful week,” he said. “(Everyone involved) ought to feel very proud of the work that was done, and the way we were presented to the world. We were not only the host, but broadcast throughout Canada and beyond in a very positive way.”
Bater couldn’t expand much quite yet when asked about numbers following the tournament. It will be quite some time until those numbers are finalized and announced, and at the same time, the numbers will not be fully indicative when it comes to tourism values. The numbers are dependant on what happened within the city in sales, the service industry, accommodations, and other aspects often overlooked in the grand scheme of things are impossible to calculate. Bater attempted to sum up some of those numbers, and praised the city for coming together to make the visitors feel welcomed, and taken care of through the event.
“I know the accommodations industry did very well, as did food service,” he said. “Restaurants were very busy. Hotels were very busy. I don’t think anybody in and around the Battlefords this week could miss that fact.”
In January, most cities see a decline of sales following Christmas. That wasn’t the case for North Battleford, who will see an economic spike due to the event. It was well timed for the city in retrospect.
Throughout the tournament, Bater wasn’t just the mayor going around to shake hands, and give thanks, he was also a volunteer for the event taking ticket sales, scanning tickets, and even pushing brooms and cleaning up in between matchups. He expanded on some of the feedback he received from guests from across North America, and the world.
“Nothing but over-whelming, positive praise for the organization, the volunteers, the facility, and of course for the entertainment itself,” he said. “I heard not one single negative comment from anyone I met.”
Bater mentioned that most visitors weren’t from around here, but many did come from the surrounding areas. Others, from surrounding provinces, as well as around the world entered the doors and city limits throughout the event.
Bater mentioned that this week will just build on the city’s growing ability to put on, and prosper when it comes to hosting large events.
“We’ve been developing a strong track record over the last few years in hosting major events, especially sports tourism,” he said. “This builds off the success of not only the Saskatchewan Winter games last year, but also the success of the first time we hosted the Meridian Canadian Open two years ago.”
In getting better and better in terms of hosting events, nothing can be done without the work of the volunteers. The mayor said that there were 173 volunteers in red jackets helping out around the arena throughout the week, and several others prior to opening night that made this happen. He said the giant team are the ones that need to be given the most credit when it comes to making this event happen.
Another aspect of Bater’s excitement was watching North Battleford’s Robyn Silvernagle, and how her team handled themselves as competitors and ambassadors. They were involved in the Future Rockstars program on Sunday morning, who put on a session teaching kids the ins and outs of the game, being on the ice with the pros. There was nothing but positive things said about the four-some, and their ability to take yet another step in growing the game, and becoming positive role models in and around the community.
“It was great to watch her in competition,” Bater said. “She represented the community and the Twin Rivers Curling Club really well. It wasn’t just the performance of the team on the ice, but the way they handled themselves throughout the tournament.”
Bater did admit that he was extremely tired this morning, following all of the festivities. In his own opinion, and presumably many around the community’s, it was a “very positive way to start 2019”.
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