Whistler athletes’ centre budget soars again 

VANOC annual report paints generally positive picture

The cost of the Whistler athletes’ centre has jumped again — to $46 million.

The new figure is part of the Vancouver Organizing Committee’s annual financial report for the year ending July 31, 2007.

In an April 2007 Partnerships B.C. report the price tag was pegged at $36.5 million.

That was up from the original VANOC budget of $16 million.

However, it became clear over the following months that the budget was deeply strained due to several factors including:

• Changes made to the centre’s design. The centre is now made of three distinct parts, a high performance gymnasium, which was to cost $6.3 million but ballooned to $11.45 million; a complex with 20 townhouses that will accommodate 150 athletes; and a central lodge, which will house 200 athletes. VANOC is still in negotiations with contractors for these components so budgets for the lodge and townhomes is not available.

• Rising construction and labour costs.

• A request by the International Olympic Committee for Whistler to accommodate 800 more athletes than was outlined at the time of the bid for the 2010 Winter Games. The extra athletes will be housed in the centre and in a number of temporary trailers set up at the athletes’ village, which is adjacent to the centre. The extra costs associated with the increase in athletes are being paid for entirely by VANOC.

According to the annual report, $5.4 million was spent this financial year on the centre. The majority of the expense was attributed to VANOC’s $4.5 million contribution to Whistler for site preparation as outlined in a previous agreement.

Another $5 million will be spent on the centre through value-in-kind products from Rona.

Last summer VANOC asked the municipality to up its contribution to the gymnasium from $2 million to $3.65 million.

The rest of the money is to come out of VANOC’s contingency fund.

The centre will support athletes during the Games. Once the Olympics are over it will turn into a permanent training facility and offer low-cost accommodation to visiting athletes.

In general the annual report showed that the Games are on time and on budget and it revealed that organizers have surpassed the 2007 target for sponsorship by $15 million.

Sponsorship now stands at $668 million. In total VANOC needs to raise $760 million.

“By the Beijing Summer Games we’ll be finished all sport venues, marking for the first time in Olympic history that the construction of the sport venues are substantially complete around the time of the immediately preceding Games, in our case Beijing,” said VANOC CEO John Furlong.

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