A standing ovation greeted Antigonish MLA and Nova Scotia Finance and Treasury Board Minister Randy Delorey March 20 as he announced provincial government funding of $1 million for StFX stadium seating to prepare for the national Special Olympics Canada 2018 Summer Games.
The province is providing support for the Special Olympics 2018 Games by providing a $1 million contribution for one of the main venues at St. Francis Xavier University.
Mr. Delorey, on behalf of Communities, Culture and Heritage Minister Tony Ince, announced the funding for seating improvements at the university’s Oland Centre. The upgrade will provide greater accessibility for athletes and their families.
“We want to create the best national games experience ever for the athletes and their families when they arrive in Antigonish,” said Mr. Delorey. “Through this investment we are helping to provide the most modern facilities that will also have a long-lasting impact on the community and the university when it comes to hosting provincial and national events.”
The existing bleachers, that were built in the 1960s, will be replaced by a new high-standard seating area for 1,500 people.
“This investment will have a positive impact on the games for both athletes and their families and reflect positively on the university, our organization and our province,” said Michael Greek, president and CEO, Special Olympics Nova Scotia.
Calling it “a wonderful gift from the province of Nova Scotia,” StFX President Dr. Kent MacDonald said StFX is excited to host this world-class event and world-class athletes, and to recommit to what the Oland Stadium should be. This funding will be used to provide fully accessible bleachers.
“We are honoured to host the 2018 National Special Olympic Games,” Dr. MacDonald said. “This $1 million investment by the province will help us prepare our campus facilities for hosting this national event that will draw thousands of Olympians and spectators from across Canada to our campus and the surrounding community. This funding will also help in upgrading our facilities in support of our varsity and recreational athletic programs and give us the ability to compete to host more national sporting events.”
“On behalf of the athletes who will compete…I would like to thank the government of Nova Scotia and StFX,” said local athlete Theresa Borden, who has competed (and won gold and silver medals) in Special Olympics games for over 30 years.
Also extending thanks were Games Organizing Committee co-chairs, former Antigonish mayor Carl Chisholm and Antigonish businessman Marc Champoux. Noting that there are many people involved in an event like this, Mr. Chisholm gave particular thanks to both the town and county of Antigonish and to StFX Student Services Head Bob Hale for their roles in bringing the games to Antigonish and StFX.
Special Olympics Canada earlier announced that StFX and the Town of Antigonish will play host to the 2018 Games. This will be the second time the province has held a national summer games, having last hosted the event in 1994. StFX and Antigonish were chosen due to the tremendous experience the area has from hosting Special Olympics Nova Scotia.
Organizers estimate the economic impact on the area of the summer games and the 4,000 participants to be more than $5 million dollars.