August 17, 2019

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Sports fans from across country filling venues for Games

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 2/8/2017 (744 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Whether outside under the hot summer sun, crowded into gymnasiums, huddled together in the stands at ball diamonds, or enjoying the free concerts at The Forks, tens of thousands of visitors and fans are filling the venues around town for the Canada Summer Games.

Their experiences, backgrounds and most of all their travel times to Winnipeg all vary, but so far the Games have been an exciting time for many athletes, families and locals alike.

The Canada Summer Games Host Society says that while ticket sales have been fairly steady so far, they feel interest in the Games is increasing. They also hope to see a spike Friday when marquee finals for softball, beach volleyball, basketball and baseball take place.

In particular, the home team has been drawing out some large crowds.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 2/8/2017 (744 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Whether outside under the hot summer sun, crowded into gymnasiums, huddled together in the stands at ball diamonds, or enjoying the free concerts at The Forks, tens of thousands of visitors and fans are filling the venues around town for the Canada Summer Games.

Their experiences, backgrounds and most of all their travel times to Winnipeg all vary, but so far the Games have been an exciting time for many athletes, families and locals alike.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Regina's Pat Mahoney was too nervous to watch the end of her son's basketball game at the Canada Games Sport for Life Centre. </p>

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Regina's Pat Mahoney was too nervous to watch the end of her son's basketball game at the Canada Games Sport for Life Centre.

The Canada Summer Games Host Society says that while ticket sales have been fairly steady so far, they feel interest in the Games is increasing. They also hope to see a spike Friday when marquee finals for softball, beach volleyball, basketball and baseball take place.

In particular, the home team has been drawing out some large crowds.

On Tuesday, teams Manitoba and Ontario were set to play baseball at Elmwood Giants Field. It soon became clear to organizers the two undefeated teams were bringing more fans out to the park than it could handle.

"It became obvious that even standing room only was going like hot cakes," said a spokeswoman for the Host Society. "That speaks to an interest in baseball and following the home team in particular."

Organizers were able to pull off a last minute switch to move the game to Shaw Park, doubling the amount of fans able to come out to watch.

What brings people out to the Games varies from person to person.

Brett Nohr of Brandon made the two-hour drive into the city to watch basketball Wednesday, in part to see the new Canada Games Sport for Life Centre and in part because watching the livestream from home made him want to see the action live.

"The facility is kind of what brought me out," Nohr said. "I hadn’t seen it yet and wanted to take a look. But I’ve also been watching all the events online. The feed has been great and really got me interested, which is another of the main reasons I wanted to come in."

Outside the Sport for Life facility, Pat Mahoney stood pacing on the sidewalk, too anxious to stay inside and watch the final minutes of the basketball game her grandson was playing in.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Thirteen-year-old Brody Fraser's dad is the coach for the Nova Scotia men's fast pitch team. He plans on making the team in a few years. </p>

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Thirteen-year-old Brody Fraser's dad is the coach for the Nova Scotia men's fast pitch team. He plans on making the team in a few years.

She says two minutes into the fourth-quarter she was too nervous to keep watching and had to step outside to pace on the sidewalk. Meanwhile a close game unfolded above amid the squeaks of sneakers on the basketball court, athletes barking out plays to one another and the crowd cheering with each basket.

"I just get too nervous. We were up by three points and I just couldn’t watch it anymore," said the grandmother from Regina. "I’m thinking about them though and hoping for sure they’re going to win this game."

Aside from the heat, which she says has been a bit much, she’s enjoyed the experience in Winnipeg and says her family thinks the city is great.

For some, watching the games unfold over the two-week event could be a glimpse into their future — at least, that’s what 13-year-old Brody Fraser hopes.

Fraser’s father is the coach of the Nova Scotia men’s fast pitch team and he's used to watching his dad coach high-level athletes.

Brody, who plays softball himself, says it motivates him to become a better player in the hopes he may one day be on the field at the Canada Summer Games, rather than in the stands.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Brett Nohr from Brandon wanted to see some basketball live instead of watching it on his computer.</p></p>

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Brett Nohr from Brandon wanted to see some basketball live instead of watching it on his computer.

While watching the action he says he can’t help but think in the back of his mind that maybe he has chance to be in their shoes four years from now.

"I’d be young, but I think I’d have a chance at making it," he said, as a packed house cheered and hammered drums at the John Blumberg Softball Complex.

"At this level of ball, it’s just always fun to watch. The other day I saw a guy in the sixth walk up and hit a home run to tie the game, then get up in the eighth and hit a home run to win the game. It was pretty amazing."

Another sign interest in the Games will be increasing over the next week is the free festival at The Forks.

The opening night of the concert series on Sunday saw 9,500 fill The Forks to capacity, as Serena Ryder took to the stage with the city’s new Winnipeg sign illuminated against the backdrop of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

After two dark nights, the festival started up again Wednesday and will continue for the next six days. Organizers expect the regionally themed nights will draw similar-sized crowds.

ryan.thorpe@freepress.mb.ca

Ryan Thorpe

Ryan Thorpe
Reporter

Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.

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