PEI

Pandemic having big impact on hunt for sponsors for 2023 Canada Games in P.E.I. 

The pandemic is having a big impact on fundraising efforts for the 2023 Canada Games in Prince Edward Island.

‘Their focus right now is dealing with the pandemic,’ says Canada Games official  

Team P.E.I. is shown waving flags at the opening of the last Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta., in February 2019. The next winter games will be held in Prince Edward Island in 2023. (Canada Games)

The pandemic is having a big impact on fundraising efforts for the 2023 Canada Games in Prince Edward Island.

The games are still a little more than two years away but the host committee is actively searching for sponsorships now.

Wayne Carew, co-chair of the host committee, described the impact as dramatic. He said not only are some businesses reluctant to sign on because of the impact the pandemic is having on businesses but border restrictions are making meeting with corporate clients, in places like Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, next to impossible. 

"You know it's a $52-million project, and a large part of that comes from both the federal and provincial governments but we need to raise $8 million in the private sector and that's very difficult knocking on people's doors given what's going on in the community today," said Carew.

"But we need to do that, and we need the support."

'It's thrown a real curve ball' 

More than 5,000 athletes, coaches and staff are expected to converge on the Island for the Games, which will run Feb. 18 to March 5, 2023.

Wayne Carew, co-chair of the Canada Games host committee, says some businesses are reluctant to sign on because of the impact the pandemic is having. (Wayne Carew)

About half of the $8 million the host committee has to raise is budgeted to come from local and regional companies. 

Jonathan Ross, volunteer vice-president of sponsorship and revenue for the 2023 Canada Games, said some corporate sponsors, who have supported the games in the past, have said no.

"Number one, their sales are down. Number two, their focus right now is dealing with the pandemic, keeping their business open, keeping their employees safe, keeping their customers safe, dealing with the different restrictions that are in place," said Ross.

"COVID has made planning a lot more difficult for these companies. It's thrown a real curve ball in that. They don't know what the next year or two are going to look like and they are a little bit preoccupied dealing with the here and now and not necessarily looking to the future."           

The decision to push back the summer games in Niagara didn't help.

'I'm very hopeful'

Those games were supposed to be held in 2021. But the pandemic has forced organizers to push those games to the summer of 2022 — six months before the winter games in P.E.I.

Jonathan Ross, volunteer vice-president of sponsorship and revenue for the 2023 Canada Games, says some corporate sponsors, who have supported the Canada Games in the past, have said no. (Jonathan Ross)

"Ordinarily, they would be done with their sponsorship raising or at least wrapping it up," said Ross. "So, we're still in the market with them now, so we're approaching a lot of similar sponsors at the same time."   

Canada Games officials say the P.E.I. games will have an economic benefit in the range of about $100 million. 

2023 will be a big year for P.E.I.

In addition to the Canada Games, a full year of activities are planned to mark the 150th anniversary of Prince Edward Island joining Confederation. 

Ross said he's confident they'll be able to find the corporate support.    

The host committee has already secured some corporate donors. They'll reveal some of them during a kickoff event planned for next month, which will mark exactly two years before the start of the Canada Games in P.E.I.

"We still have a couple of years," said Ross.

"I'm very hopeful that at the end of the day, local corporations and national corporations, regional corporations are going to step up and make this a fantastic Canada Games."

More from CBC P.E.I.

About the Author

Wayne Thibodeau

Prince Edward Island

Wayne Thibodeau is a reporter/editor with CBC Prince Edward Island. He has worked as a reporter, editor, photographer and video journalist in print, digital and TV for more than 20 years. He can be reached at Wayne.Thibodeau@CBC.ca

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