Lumsden: WC 2003 on track and will stay in Hamilton
What's in store for the 2003 World Road Cycling Championships?
running during the week were unveiled. Ambulances would get through. People would get to work. The transit system would continue to work even if some routes would change. Hamilton would continue to function.
WC staff handled numerous individual concerns. Gradually, as one community forum succeeded another and the information about the event got out, the average Hamiltonian started to understand that the WC might just be a great asset for the city.
The cries of anguish from the business types lost volume gradually, and now they can be barely heard at all.
Meanwhile, on the political front, another storm was brewing.
Civic politicians wanted to know precisely how much money the city would have to fork over for the WC. Numbers were tossed around. Would be city's share be $4 million or $3 million? Or would it be $400,000 as originally agreed. (The federal government has contributed $10 million to the race and the provincial government (Ontario) has chipped in $2.25 million.
All of this was happening against the backdrop of the city's budget deliberations, which have been extra grim this year. Councilors were trying to trim expenses to limit a tax increase that threatened to leap into the double digits.
Also preoccupying the politicians was the fact that each of them will have to run for re-election next November, about a month after the WC.
Negotiations between the city and the WC took place. Suddenly it was revealed that the city's share had been knocked down to $300,000. The politicians exulted. Andrew Dreschel, a columnist for the Hamilton Spectator, speculated that that when the dust settled the city's share would more likely be something like $1.5 million.
Whatever it turns out to be, Hamiltonians are a little tired of this speculation and it has faded as a topic of discussion.
The war in Iraq, if anything, helped the WC, being a massive distraction for the media and everyone else. The WC's problems seemed minuscule by comparison.
But SARS is different. Toronto, where there has been a significant outbreak of the virus, was an important factor in the choice of Hamilton as the site for the WC. It's Canada largest and richest city and it's only an hour's drive from Hamilton. It would be a significant attraction for those coming from abroad to the WC in addition to the race and Hamilton itself.
The warning issued by the World Health Organization in late April against travel to Toronto was a low point for the city and for the WC as well. However, the ban was lifted a week after it was issued and the SARS crisis in Toronto is diminishing with each passing day. With any luck, by October it will be just a bad memory.
Meanwhile, Lumsden and his team are beating the buses for sponsors and a number of announcements are expected soon. A partnership has been arranged with the