When the Going Gets Tough. The Tough Get Going.

Message from the Chair
April 1st, 2020

With apologies to Joseph P. Kennedy (the patriarch of the Kennedy dynasty and father of the late US President John F. Kennedy) who coined the saying — and to be fair songwriter and singer Billy Ocean of the 1985 top-40 hit of the same proverb — the BC Sports Hall of Fame must rise to the occasion set by an unprecedented and disruptive series of circumstances.

Given the extremely tough backdrop created by the COVID-19 crisis, our Sports Hall must do its part as part of the provincial, national and global community to help break the chain of transmission.We took a first step towards that back on January 28th, 2020, when we upgraded our health protocols for employees, visitors and other guests. We took another by shutting down Monday, March 16th; just over two weeks ago. And last week, we took a third major step and postponed our BC Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Induction Gala from June 4th to November 12th at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

We will stay closed at our location at BC Place as long as it is in the public interest for us to do so. We will strive to prepare for our Induction Gala in its traditional format this fall but we will do so with a half dozen contingencies for us to consider and potentially activate if we need to along the way.

Now comes the even tougher part. Rebuilding our cash flow and sources of revenue and resuming our operations stronger, smarter and better than ever as soon as it’s safe to do so.

When the going gets tough the tough get going.

We were well on our way to a Fiscal 2020 that was going to set a new high for donations and fund-raising. Yet the latter fund-raising effort — our 100 Ravens campaign to raise funds for youth education programming inspired by the Indigenous Sport Gallery – came to a halt in mid-March just as it was gaining momentum towards its March 31st deadline. We are paused at 65 Ravens (donors of $500 or more towards the production of learning modules that will extend our reach to throughout the province, including in indigenous communities and schools). Yet we will come back stronger and complete our goal of 100 Ravens when it’s appropriate to do so.

On the subject of fund-raising and revenue generation, and backed by our Partnerships Committee co-chaired by Stan Wong and Greg Keith, we were gaining momentum on our new approach to grants, donors and corporate partners, including a comprehensive prospecting and corporate sponsorship campaign. That is also in pause for obvious reasons. We will return to work there when the market – and leaders in the business community – tell us it’s appropriate to do so.

In partnership with Canucks Sports & Entertainment, we were in the final visioning stages of the Canucks 50th Anniversary Gallery before the aftermath of “3/11” changed the world of professional sport and created a shutdown in the NHL and across all major North American sports leagues, tours and associations like we have never seen before. The Canucks are focused on their own disruption. Yet we will come back to work together with an even bolder resolve to tell their 50-year story in the most compelling way possible in the form of what should become a flagship experience at the BC Sports Hall of Fame. The only question now is how long before we can resume work on that inspired initiative?

That’s why the COVID-19 crisis is tough: There are still more questions than answers. More uncertainty than certainty. More abnormal stresses than normal routines.

Yet the good news is that the BC Sports Hall of Fame is not alone in its fight for a return to business – and life – as usual.

In the days after our shutdown and during our transition to an emergency operating plan, we were supported in such a huge way by the many people who care about the BC Sports Hall of Fame.

There was the Sport Branch of the Government of British Columbia – under the leadership of Minister Lisa Beare — reiterating its support for sport in BC. There was Chair Jon Festinger and CEO Charlene Krepiakevich and the team at viaSport and Chair Blair Lowther and CEO Rob Newman and their troops at Sport BC, ensuring that the Sports Hall was part of the conversation when it came to how we will all work together to not only protect the sport system and youth sport in the province, but how we will continue to support, advocate and promote the rich sport history, sport heritage and sport culture of British Columbia.

There was Chair Ian Aikenhead and CEO Ken Cretney of PavCo and BC Place General Manager Patricia Jelinski, checking in with the Sports Hall in the midst of navigating their own way out of a tourism and events management shutdown unprecedented in BC history.

There was Bill Maclagan, a former Chair of the Hall and currently the Chair of the BC Sports Hall of Fame Foundation, not just doing what the Foundation was set out to do, but pledging support and guidance from him and his colleagues on the Foundation Board as we navigate through these particularly challenging financial circumstances.

There was Anna Nyarady, another former Chair and currently the Chair of the Council of Chairs, literally the wise “Senate” of the BC Sports Hall of Fame, working at several levels and in several roles to support the Sports Hall as it was forced to adjust to the consequences of a shutdown.

There was former Chair Ron Jones, one of the Sports Hall’s longest-serving supporters and longest-standing donors, reaching out with only two things in mind: The long-term best interests of the Hall and the health of its team of employees and Trustees.

There was Honoured Member Peter Webster, the former long-time Executive Director of the Sports Hall, who was reaching out daily with his counsel and words of support.

There was Patrick Kennedy of the Central Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame, a co-chair of our 2020 BC Sports Hall of Fame Annual Summit, letting us know that he and his own Hall will do whatever they can to ensure that our AGM and surrounding festivities go ahead as planned September 17-19 in Kelowna, B.C. Same with Scott Braley, CEO of Curl BC and another co-chair of the Sports Hall Annual Summit in this, the 125th Anniversary of curling.

And, of course, there is our management team, led by Chief Executive Nicholas Cartmell and veteran curator Jason Beck. Their response to the adversity of the spring of 2020 is nothing short of inspirational. We hope to have the team back to full strength as soon as possible.

With that kind of support network, we are fortunate. And we are resolute in our determination to work with all of our partners, stakeholders and supporters to come out of all of this stronger, smarter and better. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Indeed. Thank you.

Tom Mayenknecht is the Chair of the BC Sports Hall of Fame. A principal at Emblematica Brand Builders in Vancouver and a nationally-recognized sport business commentator and host of The Sport Market on TSN Radio, he is a strong advocate for KidSport, Right To Play and other children’s charities. He is also a member of the Ringette Canada Hall of Fame as a builder and the Chair of the Paul Carson Broadcast & Media Awards.