"Build it and they will come"
OK, real movie buffs know that in the movie Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner)
actually says "build it and he will come", but over the years the quote has
morphed into the more popular "they will come."
It's a quote that comes to mind every time I visit the Oval. You really
have to give credit to whomever at the Canada Games Committee came up with the
idea to open the Oval to the public before and after last year's games. I wonder
if they had any idea how wildly successful it would become.
Just look at the numbers.
Last year about 100,000 people visited the Oval. As of the end of this
week, more than 116,000 have laced up their skates so far this year. With still
about a month to go before it closes for the season, that number will increase
Clearly, this wasn't a one-year wonder.
Whenever we get out on the ice, I'm struck by the number of people who you
know wouldn't be on skates if it wasn't for the Oval. There are lots of us. You
can see us stumbling around the track, some holding on to friends and partners,
some using the free skating chairs for balance, but everyone having a good time.
To me, that's the charm of the place. Folks -- regardless of their abilities --
getting out and having fun.
And it's free, even the skates, so it's accessible and affordable for every
Sure, the Oval has had its bumps and bruises (literally for those of us who
take a tumble from time to time). A cash-strapped city had to find the money to
pay for it; there was the hand-wringing over sponorship and complaints the track
is taking too much space on the Common.
But in the end, they built it. And they came. And they keep coming.
This is one project the city got right.