LETHBRIDGE: The director of the Junior Little League Canadian Championship says Lethbridge may be in danger of losing its hosting privileges. This year's tournament, which ran August 2 to 11, marked the second of five years Lethbridge can host. But those who headed the tournament this year say last-minute organizing meant the event was short on funding and lacked some basic details.
"It really depends on what we're able to achieve as far as making it an event that stands out and makes our community stand out across the country, so we aren't scrambling in the last month to put the details in place," tournament director Kevin Kvame tells Country 95 News. Lethbridge must confirm by the end of September whether or not the city wants to host the event again next year, and has until the end of November to confirm years four and five.
Kvame says whether or not Lethbridge can keep the tournament hinges on going "above and beyond" what's expected from a national tournament - and so far organizers have been missing the mark even on basic details like housing for the players and bilingual services. "A lot of our asks and requests came in too late in southern Alberta to get the money we needed," says Kvame.
In 2011, the final budget was in the $65,000 to $70,000 range - about $30,000 less than what he projects is needed to "get the basics right." "It's difficult for them to take a tournament away if you're doing everything you can do to make it a showcase for their sport. If we can't do that, then I'm not sure we want to continue to spin our wheels and just put it on just for the sake of putting it on," says Kvame.
Attendance at the nine-day tournament was about the same or down slightly from last year, with about 300 to 500 people at the evening games when Lethbridge played. Kvame says they need to start earlier and rethink their marketing strategy to get more community support.
Susan Eymann, head of the Lethbridge Sport Council, is one of the people who helped bring the tournament here. "We always talk about the economic impact of events like that. But really when you go and watch the sports and see the young athletes watching this level of play - that would be a shame to lose," says Eymann. "That inspires them to go on and try to get to that level themselves."