February 6, 2009
Up to 174 additional spectators will be able to attend the 50th All Native Basketball Tournament in Prince Rupert, Feb. 6-16.
Northern Development Initiative Trust partnered with the City of Prince Rupert to modernize and increase the seating in the Russell Gamble Gymnasium, the main venue for the tournament. The gymnasium now seats over 900 people.
Northern Development provided a $30,000 toward the nearly $350,000 project via its Community Halls and Recreation Facilities funding program.
“It adds several thousand dollars to their potential door (revenues),” Prince Rupert director of recreation Michael Curnes said. “But the greater benefit is it has increased the comfort tenfold.”
The new state-of-the-art seating now installed in the Russell Gamble Gymnasium in Prince Rupert proudly displays ANBT (All Native Basketball Tournament) lettering that is the cornerstone event held annually in the facility.
“We are very pleased to support the City of Prince Rupert in upgrading this facility and the increased revenues that will be realized for important events such as the annual All Native Basketball Tournament that create significant economic impact in the local communities”, stated Northern Development CEO Janine North.
The cultural events hosted at the gymnasium – including three annual basketball tournaments and a Nisga’a First Nation dance festival – attract many elders who need the additional back support offered by the new seating.
The collapsible, wooden bleachers used in the gymnasium previously were nearly 40 years old, Curnes said.
“The railings had become badly worn. The bleachers were becoming difficult to deploy,” he added. “The new seating not only looks great… we hope it’ll allow us to attract new events.”
The city has set a goal of increasing rentals of the facility by five to 10 per cent over five years, and attracting two to four major new events. In 2008, the Prince Rupert Civic Center and Russell Gamble Gymnasium hosted the B.C. Elders’ Gathering – a meeting of First Nations elders from across the province.
The old bleachers aren’t going to waste, either. The metal components were separated for scrap and the wooden planks were donated to the North Coast Transition Society to use as flooring and decking for their new shelter and office complex in Prince Rupert. The recycled materials will help the facility reach LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design – certification.
Construction of the new seating was completed in mid-January, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the All Native Basketball Tournament.
The additional seating is expected to generate almost $2,000 per day of extra ticket sales for the All Native Basketball Tournament Society. The additional funding will support the creation of one full-time and one seasonal position at the non-profit society.
“It’s sold out already. We sold out in the last week of January,” society president Clarence Martin said. “We have people coming from the islands – both islands, Haida Gwaii and Vancouver Island – the Lower Mainland, Alberta all over. It’s going to create an economic impact for the city.”
The cosmetic impact on the facility and comfort of individual seats will be a big improvement for tournament spectators, Martin said.
Martin said the tournament has been gaining momentum and had outgrown the previous seating at the gymnasium.
For more information on the All Native Basketball Tournament, visit: www.allnativetournament.ca.