Oval's Olympic museum gets funding boost

City of Richmond has spent over $2 million on Richmond Olympic Experience where visitors will be able to simulate sports and view Olympic paraphernalia

An Olympic museum at the Richmond Olympic Oval will feature more interactive games than previously planned thanks to a $4.3 million boost to its budget.

Scheduled to open next spring, the Richmond Olympic Experience — or ROX as coined by Oval staff — will now cost $10 million, up from the original $5.7 million budget announced in January 2013.

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ROX will feature at least five interactive sports simulators, including kayaking, bob sleighing, ski jumping, sit-skiing and race car driving.

Overlooking the Oval ice rinks, ROX will also feature Olympic paraphernalia and a small movie theatre featuring sports films. 

"It will celebrate the history of the Olympics and the Paralympics, the 2010 Games and our city's role as an official venue city in 2010," said Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie on Wednesday at the Oval, a city-owned facility.

Most of the new money comes from yet to be named corporate sponsors while an additional $250,000 from the provincial government and $500,000 from the federal government will help bolster the exhibits at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) sanctioned museum, one of 22 around the world.

The Honourable Shelly Glover, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, makes an announcement on Wednesday, Dec.17, about a new museum located at the Richmond Olympic Oval. Behind her is Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie

At prior city council committee meetings, city staff had noted such simulators came at a significant cost, which could not be budgeted for. They're considered important to make the "experience" more fun for visitors, in turn drawing more people to the Oval, which is significantly subsidized by an Olympic trust fund and the city itself. 

The provincial funding, through BC Wheelchair Sports, helped to incorporate Paralympic sports features at the museum.

On hand at the announcement was Trevor 'T-bone' Hirschfield, captain of the Canadian wheelchair rugby squad.

"The Oval has been so supportive of sport and disabled sport specifically," said Hirschfield.

He noted the museum will "allow people to try a disabled sport and actually see how physical and mental and challenging it is and to see these sports are worth celebrating."

According to City of Richmond spokesperson Ted Townsend the full ROX business model cannot be divulged until corporate sponsorship contracts are finalized.

He said the Oval must follow strict IOC guidelines for sponsorship.

Townsend and Brodie said ROX should pay for itself over time, as it's expected to generate revenue.

"The business plan calls for attendance to build over the first five years. It will take time. We expect it to become a major regional attraction over time," said Townsend.

Townsend said admission fees will be scaled but did not divulge a number. Some other Olympic museums are free but the cornerstone one in Lausanne, Switzerland, costs 18 Swiss Francs for an adult.

Brodie said somewhere in the range of $10 per visit should be expected.

However, some elements of ROX will be free, such as public art, including an outdoor Olympic cauldron celebrating the torch relay and Richmond's soon to be inaugurated Sports Wall of Fame.

Who paid for ROX?

Tourism Richmond - $2.5 million 

Oval Capital Reserve (City of Richmond) - $1.5 million

City of Richmond capital budget - $0.58 million

Original corporate sponsorship (2013) - $1.1 million

New corporate sponsorship (2014) - $3.5 million (approximately)

Federal government - $0.5 million

Government of B.C. - $0.25 million 

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