Athletes’ centre pursuing groups to train in Whistler 

Lodge, townhomes will not compete with hotels, says operator

Even though the future owners of the athletes' centre have not finalized their financial plan yet, the men and women behind Whistler 2010 Sport Legacies (WSL2010) are confident the complex will be self-funded.

"We are actually quite confident that the athletes' centre can stand financially on its own with the lodge and the (townhouse) rentals producing the majority of the revenue," Paul Shore from WSL2010 said last week.

By next spring, the $48.6 million complex within the Whistler Athletes' Village should consist of a High Performance Centre with gyms and offices, a lodge capable of sleeping 200 people, and 20 townhomes.

And while Shore hopes renting out the lodge and townhomes will garner most of the cash needed to fund operations, he said the Strength and Conditioning Gym and the gymnasium in the High Performance Centre, as well as the restaurant in the lodge, will be leased to third party operators.

Those rates have not been finalized yet, said Shore.

WSL2010 CEO and president Keith Bennett said the legacy society anticipates the lodge will be used for nightly accommodation, whereas the townhomes would be leased to athletes staying in Whistler for more than a month at a time.

Also, the townhomes could be leased to WSL2010 employees if needed, said Bennett, at rates similar to those charged by the Whistler Housing Authority.

Both Bennett and Shore stressed lodging at the athletes' centre will not compete with hotels in the village for occupants.

"We are really providing dormitory as opposed to hotel accommodation, and we are not in the village," said Bennett.

Shore added that it is very clear in the mandate of the centre that the lodging won't compete with Whistler hotels.

"We are suppose to be attracting athlete groups or cultural groups that otherwise would not be able to afford Whistler," said Shore.

The lodge and townhome beds could be rented out to athletes from an array of sports, including alpine skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking and water sports. The accommodation can also be rented out to educational and cultural groups.

Shore did not know the definition of each group off the top of his head, but said family members of either athletes or education and cultural groups wouldn't be able to sleep overnight in the centre.

But because operations of the entire centre are so dependent on filling beds in the lodge and town homes, Shore said WSL2010 "needs to be aggressive to attract athlete groups to come and train and compete in Whistler."

And he said so far feedback from athlete groups has been positive.

"We feel quite confident from the interest we are already seeing from some athlete groups," said Shore.

"Many partners with the national sports organizations and even some of our predecessors like Park City tell us that this is an incredibly valuable asset and these high performance athlete groups are always looking for this kind of opportunity."

Bennett said the updated business plan for the athletes' centre should be wrapped up and ready sometime before the Winter Games in February.

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