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Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum

Alberta Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2019: Bell Memorial Award – Rob Kerr, Broadcaster

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Rob Kerr was a sports play-by-play announcer, a reporter, producer and host for more than two decades. He started his broadcasting career in the 1990s as the television play-by-play voice of the Fort McMurray Oil Barons. He went on to be the voice on the radio for the Estevan Bruins for two seasons. Following a move to Edmonton, he became the host of a sports talk show and a play-by-play announcer for two years. He then went to Calgary where he was the play-byplay announcer for the Calgary Vipers, the Calgary Roughnecks, Calgary Hitmen and the Calgary Flames. He was with Sportsnet from May 2003 to August 2018 and was a long-time radio host on Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame provides a family-friendly, interactive experience. You will be surprised by what you discover inside! Have fun, laugh, play and discover Alberta sports heroes together. The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame is an interactive, hands-on celebration of Alberta's sporting history.Our over 7,000 square feet of exhibit space includes a multisport area with virtual baseball, basketball, football, hockey, and soccer; an adaptive sports area, including a 200 meter wheelchair challenge; a Treadwall climbing wall; the Orest Korbutt Theatre; the Hall of Fame Gallery; an art gallery displaying works by provincial artists, and much more.Our venue boasts a collection of over 17,000 artefacts of Alberta sports history and showcases many of these items in a number of displays.The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame also offers an education program, group activities, and a unique environment to rent for your birthday party, special event, corporate reception or meetings.

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Alberta

Our sports history has value

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Simple confirmation that the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame has been operating without its standard financial aid from the provincial government prompted some interesting response during the last few days.

In a casual conversation, executive director Tracey Kinsella mentioned last week that COVID-19 made it necessary to cancel at least two annual fund-raisers – the Hall of Fame induction ceremony and its annual invitational golf tournament in Red Deer – and she was concerned about meeting routine expenses.

Consistently, the government’s contribution of $302,000 a year has been in the hands of Hall of Fame officials before the middle of the year. She expressed only mild frustration,, understanding that the coronavirus pandemic and other major financial issues have created major problems far from the world of sports. She did state that government staff members, working below the level of elected or appointed officials, have told her of their efforts to have the money forwarded as quickly as possible.

Perhaps this delay must be seen as part of a long and ongoing drop in Alberta’s financial support to amateur sports at all levels. In the 10-year period ending in 2019, the reduction reached $5.1 million – an average of $500,000 per year. We should hope not.

Some comparative figures seem to be well worth serious study:

* The economic impact of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer was $110 million; impact of the 2018 Alberta Winter Games was $3.4 million for the Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo area and $5.6  million for this host province;

* In 2018-19, Alberta Sport Connection, a sport delivery system disbanded months ago by the UPC, provided $7.2 million to be shared among 80 provincial sport organizations that delivered programming to more than 788,000 Albertans;

* Leduc hosted the 2016 Alberta Summer Games with an economic impact of $3.6 million for the area and $4.9 million for the province.

Still, government aid has dropped. Some citizens suggest minor and amateur sports should not receive government support during troubled times. Today it might be wise to ask Fort McMurray if that community will value the 2022 Arctic Winter Games? The record shows that numerous small- and mid-sized business stepped up during the 2018 Games, a difficult time for fire victims and petroleum companies that have served as a backstop to countless community and area projects.

After the severe floods earlier this year, it’s safe to guess that any international program that will improve community morale while adding some vital dollars to the public purse will be welcome. Incidentally, they’re headed to Wood Buffalo because COVID-19 forced cancellation of the scheduled 2020 event in Whitehorse. Fortunately, some of the dollars set aside and unused in the Northwest Territories have already arrived in Fort McMurray.

These days, surrounded by a crippled economy, I wonder if Alberta now wishes the 2026 Commonwealth Games were headed for Edmonton and 2026 Winter Olympics were coming to Calgary. Both possibilities were seriously discussed before being nixed.

During my five-year term as chair of Alberta Sport Connection, the organization received steady criticism for finishing third of fourth – usually in the rear of Quebec and Ontario – in provincial medal counts. I tried regularly to help almost any government official to focus on the cost of doing business.

It made no impact to point out that Alberta’s per-capita investment in sport programs is (or was) the second-lowest in Canada. Sorry, I can’t remember which province spent less, but I am sure that Saskatchewan receives $24.39 per capita and Newfoundland gets $8.36 per capita.

Alberta receives $3.85 per capita although 82 per cent of Albertans say in polls that they believe sport contributes to quality of life. And those I have spoken to say clearly that the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame has value.

John Short on Edmonton’s baseball debate

 

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Alberta

Could our sports history be … history?

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Could our sports history be … history?

What began as a simple question was turned suddenly into a discouraging truth. The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame has not received any support from the provincial government this year and no discussions have been held about when – or if – the money might arrive.

The question was: “What chance is there that the annual banquet (postponed because of COVID-19) will be staged before the end of 2020?” Tracey Kinsella, who became executive director of the Hall last summer, responded that many existing lockdown issues would have to be cleared up, and some funding would be required. Then she pointed out that the Hall of Fame, which sits on the edge of Red Deer and has honoured athletes and sportsmen for decades, has been operating without funds. And she also pointed out that she has had little communication to date with any government representative about the cost of staying in business.

Given those simple facts, it takes no large dose of imagination to see the possibility that the Hall of Fame, which sits on the edge of Red Deer and has honoured athletes and sportsmen for decades, will not exist much longer. Alberta’s annual contribution is a mere $302,000,  peanuts in the budget of any provincial government.

Of course, this is not just ANY government. It has bigger problems than most. The United Progressive Conservative government is locked in vital struggles over billions of resource revenue and thousands of jobs. Before the coronavirus interfered, facing a debt level already out of control, the UPC dismantled the Alberta Sports Connection board of governors, which provided years of experience in administration, public service and fund-raising, then oversaw the dismissal of at least one high-ranked staff member who served ASC with integrity for more than 25 years.

Moves to fill those gaps, if any, have been made in silence.

To put the record straight, this reporter spent five years as chair of ASC, the last two under control of an NDP  minister so disinterested he once told hundreds of Leduc residents, “you know, of course, that I’m not in politics because I care about sports.” My term ended on schedule, before the UPC was elected.

In times like these, where major issues such as COVID-19 collect almost every available ounce of governmental focus, it is easy to look beyond issues that supposedly don’t matter. But, if provincial history and recognition of many who have contributed is important, some attention must be paid soon.

Kinsella, who has been involved in sport as an administrator and unpaid supporter for years, replaced veteran Donna Hately. She entered with enthusiastic ideas about “investments in the Hall.” Her concept would provide entertainment and education for youngsters while also upgrading the building, completed in 1997.

In recent years, she said, attendance at the annual induction banquet had not been “any kind of money-maker.” Other funds were raised in the annual Hall of Fame golf tournament. “Now, we’re doing whatever is necessary” as she looks toward the future. “I think we can get by at this level for about a year and a half, but it won’t be easy.”

Initially, the Hall of Fame induction banquet was scheduled for May 29. To be recognized whenever a date can be set are four athletes, three builders and two to share the Bell Memorial Award for media excellence, as well as individual Achievement, Pioneer and Legacy Award winners. Click for this year’s inductee’s. 

Click here to make a donation to the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.

Editor’s note:  John is an Alberta Hall of Fame member, inducted in 1988 with the Bell Memorial Award for media excellence. 

Click to read more of John’s stories.

Todayville has a many stories about the inductees over the past few years.  Since 2017, we have produced a video of each inductee.  Click here to find some amazing stories. 

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may, 2020

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