Probably next in Windsor’s dream of becoming a sport tourism swimming mecca will be the city spending an estimated $300 million to host the FINA 2025 long course world championship. Will the larger event and the coming December FINA event, which is costing local taxpayers $16 million, do much for Windsor?
There is a certain reality about single sporting events. They are not sustainable economic development.
December’s event, lasting about a week and played out in a portable pool in an arena, will not bring fame and glory. With so much of the money being spent going out of town, it will also hardly help the local economy.
Also, it will not come close to generating the economic impact of a Grey Cup.
On November 27, Toronto will host the 104th Grey Cup. Festival organizer Sara Moore, in a Windsor Star report, estimated an economic impact, “… in excess of $100 million.”
Instead of putting all of its eggs in the FINA basket, which is very low down on the totem pole of popular sporting events, why doesn’t Windsor go bold and do something to create sustainable, rather than flash-in-the-pan, sports tourism?
Chasing a CFL franchise would cost much less than FINA 2025. It might hardly cost taxpayers anything. Without question, it could deliver considerable and tangible benefits for almost a whole year, and not just days.
Building an appropriate multi-use football stadium would probably cost a fraction of what mayor Drew Dilkens is expected to spend on FINA, and could add an impressive real sports asset to a region with few good ones.
It is no pipe dream. Here are some facts.
The city could probably get away with a 10,000 to 20,000 seat stadium. The Toronto Argonauts home game of July 14 had only 12,373 in attendance.
Regina is building a 33,000 seat facility for less than $300 million with only $73 million from the city’s taxpayers. It will be the home of a wide range of events and will have 33 private suites.
Regina has a population of 193,100, about half of the Windsor and Essex County combined population. But, Windsor has an advantage called Detroit.
There are Americans who love the CFL and will be in attendance at the Grey Cup. Actually, the CFL could arrest the declining interest in the NFL. This is based on speculation by National Post sports writer Bill Lankhof.
In a November 4 piece, Lankhof wrote about the CFL becoming the NFL’s farm league. He sees the virtue of it being able to supply an ongoing crop of quarterbacks. This, he calculates, would end the NFL’s shortage of quarterbacks and possibly arrest the league’s decline.
A CFL team with direct links to the NFL could put Windsor on the sports map. It would also round out the CFL’s team roster.
The League now has nine teams, a number not divisible by two. Add Windsor and the league would have an even split between east and west.
Alas, it is doubtful it will happen.
Windsor’s council would rather spend its money to finance rich, foreign swimming organizations every nine years, or so, rather than building a sound base for expanded sports tourism.