Since last year's Montreal Olympics were almost wrecked by financial problems, the people of Canada have feared those troubles will be repeated at next summer's Commonwealth Games.
Since last year's Montreal Olympics were almost wrecked by financial problems, the people of Canada have feared those troubles will be repeated at next summer's Commonwealth Games. But at the host city of Edmonton preparations are almost complete.
SYNOPSIS: According to statistics, Edmonton, Alberta, is the most inexpensive major city in Canada. It is also one of the richest-and the people of Edmonton are determined the Commonwealth Games will not alter that. They've come a long way since muskets and the walls of Fort Edmonton were a settler's only security. In the past 20 years the whole of Alberta has grown into an oil-rich industrial area. The people of Edmonton are known throughout the country as Canada's 'blue-eyed Arabs'.
This new-found wealth has given the city a chance of making the 1978 Games a success.
And Edmonton is taking the opportunity of building for the future at the same time. Solid financial support from the Canadian Government and the State of Alberta has enabled the construction of a new underground railway system. This will run between the city centre and chief venue for the Games-the Commonwealth Stadium.
This new multi-use stadium has been constructed at a cost of around 11 and a half million pounds sterling (20 million US dollars). It will hold 42,000 people. Unlike Montreal the Edmonton officials have made doubly sure that this brave venture does not become a redundant monument to near-bankruptcy in the future. After the Games, the stadium will be used as a sports centre and grid-iron football venue. It will serve the city while retaining qualities to satisfy the high standards of international competition.
Of course the other already noticeable difference between pre-Olympic Montreal and Edmonton is the near-completion of the major venue. There have been almost no industrial disputes and the workmen are keeping to a tight schedule designed to ensure that the Stadium is ready in time. The opening and closing ceremonies will be held here and all the track and field events. Inside the 400-metre artificial track is a sub-surface grassed area which is specially drained by a network of pipes. All the runways for the throwing events will on an artificial surface. The Stadium includes a three-storey health and fitness centre which athletes and officials will use as a control centre during the Games.
Jubilee Auditorium was built in 1956 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Alberta. During the Games nearly 3,000 spectators will sit in soft theatre-style seats and watch the weightlifting competition.
The Edmonton University campus will be used to house the thousands of athletes expected to take part in the Games. And, unlike the Olympics, competitors will not be allocated rooms on a national basis.