The 47th International Children’s Games wrapped up Sunday afternoon with a parade of athletes from City Hall to Festival Plaza and the games may have put Windsor on the radar to host future sporting events.
Sports event management consultant Peter Knowles said the games answered an important question for many international organizers -- where is Windsor?
"The people who would be voting would be people from all over the world who probably have never even heard of Windsor," said Knowles.
He said associating Windsor with Detroit is one way organizers helped locate the city for many voters, but a successful event can do much more in creating a reputation for international events.
"These boys and girls in 15 years’ time will be business leaders, politicians, and professional people … they now will go back around the world after having a great time here and who knows what that leads to down the way," Knowles said. "Windsor has the infrastructure … once you have the reputation people will bring the events to you. You don't have to go bidding for them."
Mayor Eddie Francis is confident the impression left by this year’s games will be long lasting.
"I think it's safe to assume people are leaving with a very strong and very real connection to our city and to our community rooted in a very memorable experience. With that, they now know where Windsor is now," said Francis.
The star of the international children's games was the Windsor-Essex region, according to ICG president Torsten Rasch.
He said, "These are the best games ever we had in the history of the ICG."
Part of the closing ceremonies included the handing over of the ICG flag to Lake Macquarie Australia mayor Jodie Harrison, where the games will be held next year.
"I have to say we have a lot to live up to. Windsor has set a very high standard, but I'm sure we'll match it," said Harrison.
Walt Metulynsky, the program director for the games, said the event answered an even bigger question -- is sports tourism sustainable in Windsor?
"I think without a doubt we have fabulous facilities here. The University of Windsor has wonderful facilities, a top notch world class track and field stadium. We have the new pool. St. Clair College is building a new athletic centre as well. Put those together and we just have everything that it could take to be an international sport centre," said Metulynsky.
New facilities attract bigger events, according to Knowles. He says the money spent is a good investment for the city.
"Staging major international sports events cost money. Just like if you were a business promoting ... developing a new product, developing a new brand, you have to invest in that … you need to keep your name ... so it does mean every so often bidding for an events will give you a profile and maintain that reputation. Those will cost you money," he said.
But he said going after bigger events may be an issue because Windsor doesn’t have enough quality accommodations available.
Windsor would need to team up with Detroit, he said.
"That lack of accommodations could only really be made up by Detroit … you get all the issues of people travelling backwards and forwards between the two cities. That would be, for me, the one factor which would mean that Windsor wouldn't be able to bid for the very biggest of events," Knowles said.