‘We went on the information we had’: Francophonie Game faces skyrocketing costs

Local organizing committee officials for the 2021 Francophonie Games, or Jeux de la Francophonie, have confirmed the cost to hold the festivities in New Brunswick has skyrocketed to more than seven times the original estimate.

A bid committee, which was established in 2015, was tasked with creating the document. Its role, however, did not include developing the budget, says chairperson Eric Mathieu Doucet.

Originally proposed as a $17 million bid, the cost for Moncton-Dieppe to host now sits at $130-million, officials confirmed at a late afternoon press conference Monday.

The cities each agreed to contribute $750,000 based on the original bid, with the federal and provincial governments covering the rest.

A national organizing committee presented a business plan to the federal and provincial governments in March, 2018.

Of the business plan. $36 million is for infrastructure costs, including improving tennis courts, soccer fields and tracks in Greater Moncton.

According to a release, $24 million of the infrastructure costs are “essential,.”

Doucet says “we went on the information we had,” when submitting the original bid.

International sports officials, such as reps from FIFA and IAAF, came in after the bid was submitted and recommended upgrades, Doucet says.

“When the FIFA expert came down, he said, ‘Yeah, you have one [soccer field] for games, but the other three were great for practices. But if you want to have a game, you have to add some locker rooms and stuff like that.’”

Doucet declined to answer how much money they could cut from the business plan and still go ahead with the 2021 Francophonie Games, saying they’re waiting to hear more details from an independent expert hired as part of the federal government’s financing requirements for international events.

“There are probably answers in that report,” he says.

They estimate the economic spin-off from the Games to be $165 million, contrary to an original economic impact benefit of $22 million. Doucet says more money invested into the event and more infrastructure being built is how that number grew.

The Games are expected to bring in over 3,000 participants from around the world.

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