The Nanaimo Track and Field Club wants the fastest, highest, strongest athletes in Canada to come to Rotary Bowl stadium.
The club is putting together a bid to host the Canadian Track and Field Championships in 2024, and Nanaimo city council is backing that bid with a financial commitment.
Councillors, at a finance and audit meeting Wednesday, Jan. 19, recommended approving up to $100,000 toward hosting the event, which would be not only a national championship meet but also Olympic and Paralympic trials.
Members of the track and field club made a presentation to the finance committee, detailing the club’s history hosting large-scale meets in the past, and suggesting the event could have a $15-million economic impact in the region.
The financial commitment is a requirement of the bid package, but Richard Harding, city general manager of parks and recreation, said the expectation would be that the host organizing committee would seek other means of financial support to offset the city’s contribution.
He said the city’s improvements to the stadium district on Third Street have helped make an event like track and field nationals possible.
“This is an example now that groups and organizations like the track and field club are seeing that now we have the venues to actually bid for this,” Harding said.
Allen Johnston, track club past-president, said with the track upgrades that were done in 2021, Rotary Bowl “is ready to host any international competition as is.”
Members of the finance committee were unanimous in backing the bid, with Coun. Tyler Brown saying he’s “highly supportive” and Coun. Jim Turley saying he’s “quite excited about the potential opportunities of this event.”
Council was already aware that the bid was in the works, as Mayor Leonard Krog wrote a letter of support to Athletics Canada last summer.
“This is completely consistent with previous councils’ and this council’s work around ensuring that we have athletic facilities that will attract athletic tourism, let alone the enormous benefit it is in building community and country when athletes get together and compete and their families come, and coaches,” Krog said.
The track and field club anticipates submitting its proposal to Athletics Canada in March.