Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Riley family donation gives Sports Hall needed boost

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ANOTHER component of the downtown Sport For Life Centre is in place.

The ceremonial opening for the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame took place Wednesday with a ribbon-cutting. Manitoba premier Greg Selinger was among the officials with the scissors.

The 3,000-square-foot facility on the ground floor of the Pacific Avenue Sport Manitoba headquarters will be known as the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame presented by the Riley family, thanks to the largesse of a family that includes four hall inductees.

The Riley family, represented Wednesday by Sandy Riley (sailing, all-round) and his uncle J. Derek Riley (athlete, rowing), has donated $500,000 to get the facility up and running.

Jeff Hnatiuk, president and CEO of Sport Manitoba.

"Both Sandy and Derek Riley have shown leadership right from Day 1 when they were approached about the complex itself, the facility and its concept," said Sport Manitoba president and CEO Jeff Hnatiuk after the ceremony. "And it's because of that leadership we've been able to advance quite significantly in a short period of time on our private-sector fundraising campaign."

The vision for the Sport For Life Centre also includes a multi-million-dollar fieldhouse and training centre that is on the drawing board to be attached to the centre's west side.

But the immediate triumph is the Hall of Fame phase that opens to the public on Saturday.

"It's definitely a huge sense of pride," Hnatiuk said. "All along, in the whole concept of opening the Sport For Life Centre --we have the training component still to come and we've already got the sport medicine centre that's complete -- we've always known that heritage and the recognition of past accomplishments was going to be a huge part of what we wanted to do.

"Now, being able to say that part is complete is a huge step forward for us. And we've very, very proud that we can provide this opportunity as part of this centre."

Sandy Riley, the fourth member of his family inducted into the Hall, went in with the 2009 class, competed in the 1976 Olympics and the 1975 Pan Am Games. The current president and CEO of the Richardson Financial Group was also the chairman of the Pan Am Games in Winnipeg in 1999.

"We're very honoured to all have been inducted and we are fortunate to be in a position to able to support the Hall of Fame ourselves," Riley said at Wednesday's ceremonial opening. "The Hall of Fame is important because young people look up to their elders in a sense, people who have achieved something and when they see ... great athletes, it gives them the incentive to do it themselves.

"Every few years, a new generation of great athletes come out of this province and they come on the shoulders of the people who were before them. That's really why this is so important."

J. Derek Riley was inducted in 2009, Conrad Riley, a rower, was inducted in 1982, and Culver Riley was inducted in 1981.

Sandy Riley said that the traffic, which figures to increase in coming years, will be a key factor in the Hall's future value.

"Very important because it's in the Sport for Life building," Sandy Riley said. "Young people are going to be coming into this building every day... and it's great for them to be able to come in and see the athletes and it's very motivating. They do their training and it just helps create a better basic level of athletic skill in the province.

"I'm such a big supporter of the impact of athletics on young people and we wanted to do whatever we can to help."

The decades galleries, several interactive features and an abundance of artifacts are all prominent in the new version of the Hall.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Splashy unveiling

Address: 145 Pacific Ave., the main floor of the new Sport for Life Centre.

Grand Opening: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., free admission, future coupons available.

Who will be there? Signing autographs during the day will be James Murphy, Janine Hanson, Amos Ramon at 10 a.m. (Ramon will also participate in the virtual/interactive home run derby with the public inside the Hall); Joe Daley (noon); Ken Ploen (1 p.m.), Ab McDonald (2 p.m.), Susan Auch (3 p.m.).

Hall regular hours: Sundays 12-5 p.m.; Mondays closed; Tuesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Hall regular admission: seniors $3 seniors; youth 12 and up $4; regular adult $5.

'Young people are going to be coming into this building every day... and it's great for them to be able to come in and see the athletes and it's very motivating'

-- Sandy Riley

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 25, 2012 C6

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