HALIFAX -- The $45-million showcase venue for the 2011 Canada Games in Halifax officially opened Saturday with less than a month to go before the games begin.
Hundreds of people gathered outside under bright sunshine for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the gleaming Canada Games Centre in the city's west end.
Flanked by Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers Anni and Sammi -- the games' mascots -- the ribbon was cut by Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly, Premier Darrell Dexter and Defence Minister Peter MacKay, the province's voice at the federal cabinet table.
"In just a few weeks time, we will be hosting Canada's elite athletes for what may be some of the greatest competitions of their careers," MacKay told the crowd. "We can't wait to welcome all of those participants. This will be the best Canada Games ever."
The games will be held the last two weeks of February, attracting athletes from across Canada.
Dexter said the centre is the "crown jewel" of the games.
"This is a world-class facility that will not only host some of our nation's best athletes ... but will also serve Nova Scotians for generations to come," Dexter said before the crowd was invited in for treats and a tour.
The centre is a multi-purpose training and recreation facility that includes an eight-lane, 25-metre indoor pool, leisure pool, fitness centre, indoor 200-metre running track and four full-sized gymnasium courts.
Halifax's regional government spent $21 million on the project, with the federal and provincial governments each contributing $12 million.
During the games, the centre will be used by athletes competing in artistic gymnastics, badminton and synchronized swimming.