Dear Governor Pawlenty:
Garrott Kuzzy here, writing from Vancouver as a Minnesotan representing the United States at the 2010 Winter Olympics. I am a Minneapolis/Golden Valley resident and grew up 3 blocks from Wirth Park. I’ve witnessed Wirth improve significantly over the past couple of years, becoming a much safer, more beautiful, and more active park. It is my primary training location when I am in the Twin Cities.
I am writing to urge you to support the Winter Training Center at Theodore Wirth Park in Golden Valley.
This project has state-wide significance. The Winter Training Center will allow Minnesota to attract national and international events like:
The United States Ski Association’s (USSA’s) Junior Olympics (1,000+ people for 10 days each year)
USSA’s Senior Nationals (1,000+ people for 10 days each year)
World Masters Championships (1,500 people for 10 days)
These events will have a dramatic economic impact on the Minnesota economy. The 2011 Junior Olympics alone will have about a $3 million impact – with about $1 million in hotel stays alone.
Some of the United States’ top Olympic skiers – including myself and my teammate, Caitlin Compton – train at Wirth Park. With infrastructure improvements, Olympic-level athletes will continue to train and compete in Minnesota – with the chances of Gold Medal performances significantly enhanced.
This project fights obesity among our youth. By providing high level and reliable infrastructure, the Winter Training Center will encourage and inspire regular physical activity in young people from throughout the state and the region.
With $1.2 million in matching funds, including $300,000 in direct private contributions, the Winter Training Center leverages significant community support. Moreover, because of this private support, this project is ready for short-term action and the state’s investment will yield both immediate jobs in construction and good longer-term jobs in tourism and servicing of the facility (jobs that will be paid for through use fees rather than ongoing tax revenue).
The Winter Training Center is the unique project that pays for itself through economic impact to the state while at the same time fostering other state-wide benefits like long-term jobs, Olympic-level facilities and a reduction in obesity. The environmental benefit of having World Class trails right in heart of the city allows more skiers from the Twin Cities to get outside and enjoy winter closer to home.
I urge you to support this project as part of the upcoming bonding bill.