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In two years, 7,500 athletes will descend on Toronto for thePan American Games but the focus is already on what happens when everyone goes home.

That’s because hosting the Pan Ams is about much more than just sport.

Athletes love the experience of competing in a multi-sport Games but what an event of this size does for everyone else is provide a way to unlock government money for everything from sports facilities to an airport rail link.

As head of TO2015, Ian Troop’s official job is to deliver an on-time, on-budget Games. But he’s also expected to deliver an event that excites Ontarians and sets the table for potential future bids.

“Our job is to prime the pump, do a really good job so people understand what this means when it’s done well and there’s some appetite to do something more. Whether that’s the Olympics or a World Expo, I don’t know,” Troop said.

The Pan Am Games are routinely criticized for not being a sporting event or spectacle on par with the Olympics. But Troop is having none of that.

“We’re not the Olympics and TIFF is not Cannes. It doesn’t mean TIFF isn’t any good,” said Troop, referring to the Toronto International Film Festival and the more prestigious French film festival.

“TIFF is genuine and accessible and very successful and the artists like to come here because of that. And that’s a great analogy for us.”

What he means is that without the pomp of the Olympic rings, the Pan Am Games allow a more personal experience between athlete and spectator, and, most important of all, provide sporting facilities and infrastructure that will have broad community use without breaking the bank.

That’s the plan, anyway.

“We haven’t had anything like this in Ontario in our human memory. The British Empire Games in 1930 is a long time ago for most of us,” Troop said.

Those Games, the precursor to the Commonwealth Games, were held in Hamilton. There were 400 athletes from 11 countries, including Newfoundland, which wasn’t part of Canada yet. So, as comparisons go for the challenge ahead it’s a pretty useless one.

In addition to the athletes, the 2015 Pan Am Games will bring thousands of coaches, officials and VIPs from 41 countries to 32 venues from Oshawa to Welland. Throw in the 1.2 million ticketed spectators organizers expect and that’s a lot of people over a lot of territory and a lot that can go wrong.

“There’s the hope of what the Games can be but there’s this fear of what it could end up being,” Troop said, acknowledging public sentiment.

But at least one of the Games’ goals has already succeeded.

There’s a $456 million rail link from Union station to Pearson airport, talked about fruitlessly for decades and now scheduled to be finished in time for the Games.

The $514 million athletes’ village was a toxic wasteland in the middle of Toronto. The West Don Lands were purchased by the province decades ago but redevelopment never got off the ground. Now, it’s cleaned up, flood protected and well on its way to being a new neighbourhood of condos, affordable rentals and student housing with parks and a community centre.

Building the athletes’ village is the thing that “bedevils” every Olympics or Pan Am Games, said David Peterson, who led the successful Pan Am bid in 2009. He also purchased the West Don Lands when he was Ontario’s premier 30 years ago.

“We were lucky we had this piece of property that was right strategically where the city needed development,” Peterson said. “It’s going to do for the east end of the city what the Skydome did for the west end, in driving development.”

Building needed infrastructure — well beyond sport facilities — and spreading the expense more broadly through municipal, provincial and federal budgets, is one of the biggest reasons why cities vie to host multi-sport events.

It provides the deadline and “impetus to do something you know you want to do anyway,” Troop said.

“Our job is to get people seeing the opportunity in a hopeful and optimistic way but also be realistic enough that we’re not blinded to the risks and how we want to manage those.”

He’s talking about the twin scourges of big projects: delays and cost overruns.

But the sports venues covered under TO2015’s $1.4 billion budget “are truly on schedule and under budget,” he said.

The biggest one, the aquatics centre and field house at the University of Toronto Scarborough, will be finished next summer. Rental agreements with the Rogers Centre, where the opening and closing ceremonies will be held, should be signed by summer’s end, Troop said.

TO2015 has already signed sponsorship deals for $75.6 million of the $102 million they are required to raise, according to its audited financial statements.

“We’re right where we need to be at this point with a lot of work ahead,” Troop said.

For one, they have to sell $38 million worth of tickets. And there is the enormous challenge of keeping security costs from hitting the stratosphere, which they have a tendency to do as anyone who lived through the 2010 G20 Summit in Toronto knows all to well.

It’s possible to deliver the Games without cost overruns so long as the budget drives the plan and not the other way around, Troop said. More often, “scope drives the budget and that gets you into trouble unless you’re a government that doesn’t really care.”

The province of Ontario — the government on the hook for cost overruns — definitely does care.

That’s why so much has already changed from the 2009 bid book.

The number of venues has dropped from 51 to 32 with more clustering of events in one location. Mississauga’s Hersey Centre, for example, will host wrestling, judo, karate and taekwondo. The original plan had these combative sports at three different locations.

Still, it’s not exactly walking distance from the athletes’ village at Front St. and Bayview Ave. to the swimming and diving at U of T Scarborough or track and field at York University. That’s because venues were designed and placed for their post-Games use, Troop said.

“We all talk about how we don’t want white elephants and everyone cites Montreal as being one of those problems. They had a big Olympic park where they built a lot of static buildings and they didn’t think about trying to partner with owners who would have purposes well beyond the Games,” he said.

The velodrome in Milton, for example, will become home to the national cycling team, which currently trains in the U.S., and will house sports courts to provide much-needed recreation space for the growing community.

Troop was at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and hopes “our Games give people a taste of that feeling of pride and patriotism.”

He’ll call the whole 2015 Pan Am enterprise a success if “after


So Rogers Centre is confirmed at the Opening/Closing Ceremony venue.

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I hope that they can get the Rogers Centre signed for the ceremonies. I know the MLB can be very flexible with scheduling (ie. double headers to accomodate for rain delays), but they can also be very stubborn, as we saw with the Orioles who wouldn't reschedule their game this September to allow the Ravens to play that night for the NFL season opener. I really hope there aren't any problems because there aren't many alternatives to the Rogers Centre...

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I hope that they can get the Rogers Centre signed for the ceremonies. I know the MLB can be very flexible with scheduling (ie. double headers to accomodate for rain delays), but they can also be very stubborn, as we saw with the Orioles who wouldn't reschedule their game this September to allow the Ravens to play that night for the NFL season opener. I really hope there aren't any problems because there aren't many alternatives to the Rogers Centre...

The only bright spot is that weekend and the majority of the first week is the all star game.

On a venue note Archery has been moved to downtown, likely Varsity stadium.

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First facility officially open!

WELLAND - The excited children waved their Pan Am Games flags as they gathered to celebrate the opening of the city’s newest sports venue.

Watching the children from the city’s day camp program, Ian Troop wondered how the new Welland International Flatwater Centre might influence their futures. He wondered aloud if their lives might be changed by growing up in a city with a facility that’s unrivaled in North America, drawing top athletes from around the world to compete here.

“It’s giving our kids a lot of new opportunities to compete and develop their skills,” said Troop, chief executive officer of Toronto 2015 — the organization bringing the Pan Am Games to the Golden Horseshoe, including Welland. “It will be really interesting to speculate when that first Olympic champion that is Welland homegrown will be, but it’s probably not long. Part of these games is to make them know that it’s possible. That’s a big part of why we’re doing this as well.”

The children were already inspired.

They were at the new Welland International Flatwater Centre, along with hundreds of other Welland residents, to celebrate the completion of the facility as well as the start of a two-year countdown until the Pan Am Games begins.

Sitting on the newly-installed bleachers, set into the bank of the old canal that was transformed into the sports venue, seven-year-olds Shadya Morrison and Dezeray St. James were both inspired by the excitement surrounding them. They both said they plan to learn to canoe and kayak competitively when they turn 10.

In addition to inspiring the next generation of Olympic gold medalists, Troop was also eager to see the impact the facility has on the struggling city.

“This is a world-class facility and it’s going to have international meets and it’s going to drive a lot of business into Welland,” he said. “I think this is going to be a great boon from a business standpoint creating all sorts of opportunities for everybody in the community.”

And the first major sporting event is now only weeks away, when the 2013 International Canoe Federation Junior and Under 23 Canoe Sprint World Championships take place in the first week of August.

“When they start having events in early August and everyone starts understanding in a really tangible way what this legacy is all about, it’s fantastic,” Troop said. “I’ve seen the pictures and the last time I was here it was under construction, but to see it virtually finished is just terrific now.”

“There’s a wow factor,” said Welland Recreational Canal Corp. chairman Tom Bacolini.

Like many Welland residents, Bacolini said he’s watched the facility rise along the canal bank from a distance. But he chose to wait until it was complete to tour it.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “It was well worth the wait, and it was well worth the money, and I think once we fill it up in a couple of weeks it’s just going to blow everyone away.”

Ward 6 Coun. Bob Wright said he’s confident the venue has the potential to bring the world to Welland, and then bring them back for a return visit.

“I think it’s going to be a world attraction —‚ not only in August of this year but for years to come,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the future. I know we have the Pan Am Games coming here, but who knows one day we may have the Olympics here. I hope I’m still alive to see that happen.”

The venue made a believer out of Ward 2 Coun. Frank Campion — sort of.

“I think it looks really good,” said Campion, who has been critical of the project cost. “But you don’t get a lot for $10-million. I’m not sure where all that money goes, but it looks beautiful.”

But comparing it to facilities in other communities being constructed for the Pan Am Games, Welland Recreational Canal Corp. executive director Stephen Fischer said the city got a great deal.

“We spent $10-million and we got this. In comparison, I think we got a great bang for the buck,” Fischer said.

The facility was designed for more than just flatwater sports, Fischer said as he led one of several impromptu tours through the athlete’s building — a large mutli-use facility on the north side of the facility.

Its large rooms can be divided up to allow different user groups to hold activities simultaneously.

For instance, he said while one group might be using part of the facility for yoga, athletes could be using the facility’s paddling rowing training tank. A large floor can also be installed over the tank, to allow that room to be used for other purposes as well.

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CIBC Pan and Parapan Aquatics Centre 6,000 (for pool events) and 2,000 for field house events (Sports: Swimming, Synchronized swimming, Diving, Fencing and Modern Pentathlon)

Completion: July 2014.

So far its 50% finished.















Source: University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) Facebook Page

Edited by intoronto
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Confirmed: The porcupine is the mascot!

TORONTO, July 17, 2013 – After months of anticipation, Pachi the porcupine was introduced today as the official mascot for the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games. Thousands of young kids filled the CBC atrium anxiously awaiting their chance to meet the new mascot.

Showing off his friendly, outgoing personality, Pachi took centre stage at KIDS’ CBC DAYS and dazzled the crowd with his brightly coloured quills and his energetic dance moves. With the music of Canadian artist Classified booming, Pachi and young karate athletes got the crowd of kids on their feet, moving to the sounds of Inner Ninja —a song about determination, hard work and inner strength.

Originally designed by a group of four Grade 8 students, Team Porcupine includes Fiona Hong, 13, Michelle Ing, 13, Paige Kunihiro, 14, and Jenny Lee, 13, from Buttonville Public School in Markham, Ontario. The young team entered the TORONTO 2015 Mascot Creation Challenge as part of a school project led by physical education teacher Mari Ellery. The team was challenged to come up with a unique mascot that represented the Games and would be the ambassador for the largest multi-sport Games Canada has ever hosted.

Pachi was selected from the more than 4,000 entries that were submitted by groups of kids from across Canada, and was also the favourite in the online voting contest that received more than 33,000 votes.

Porcupines have more than 30,000 quills, but Pachi has 41—one for each of the Pan American countries participating in the Games. His quills are five brilliant colours and represent qualities that he holds: green is youth, fuchsia is passion, blue is collaboration, orange is determination and purple is creativity. Like other porcupines, Pachi has impaired vision and difficultly seeing people and objects that are far away. He also sports a TORONTO 2015 hat and Pan Am and Parapan Am wristbands.

“We are proud to introduce Pachi to Canadians and people from across the Americas,” said Ian Troop, chief executive officer for the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015). “A lot of hard work and creativity has gone into making this character and Pachi truly represents the spirit of the Games.”

“Mascots are the face of the Games and something that I remember fondly from each of the Games I have competed at,” said Rosie MacLennan, Olympic and Pan Am gold medallist, trampoline. “Pachi is definitely lovable and memorable.”

Mascots are an important ambassador for the Games and a playful way to engage and inspire kids and youth to get active and get involved. Pachi’s unveiling represents a significant milestone along the roadmap to hosting the TORONTO 2015 Games.

“I’m pleased to welcome Pachi the porcupine to the TORONTO 2015 Games family,” said the Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport). “Thanks to the hard work of our young designers we have a unique and friendly ambassador for our Games that Canadians from coast to coast have embraced.”

“Symbolizing the spirit of the 2015 Games, Pachi captures the energy, excitement and creativity of our young people,” said Michael Chan, Ontario Minister Responsible for the 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games. “Pachi will be a great ambassador for the Games, as well as Fiona, Michelle, Paige and Jenny, who I’m proud to say are from Markham, Ontario! Congratulations to all who contributed their creativity in giving the 2015 Games a unique identity."

Pachi’s character came to life through a series of stages that included the original design from Fiona, Michelle, Paige and Jenny, professional illustration and refinement by renowned illustrator James Caswell and finally costume design by Toronto-based Maydwell Mascots Inc.

“Our group was called the Pachi Pals because we thought the name was so cute,” commented Jenny. “And now kids from across Canada and the Americas can be Pachi Pals too!”

“Meeting Pachi today was another one of those memorable moments and I can’t wait for the other athletes to meet him in 2015,” added Tyler Miller, Paralympic gold medallist and Parapan Am bronze medallist, wheelchair basketball.

People can meet Pachi online at TORONTO2015.org/mascot. The website features information and news about Pachi, fun downloads such as colouring pages, photos and videos as well as stories of his travels in The Mascot Diaries.

Beginning tomorrow, Pachi will make appearances in communities across the Games footprint as the ambassador for the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games. He will be back at KIDS’ CBC DAYS in Toronto on Thursday, July 18 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. For a list of Pachi’s upcoming appearances or to request him to attend your event, visit TORONTO2015.org/mascot.

Edited by intoronto
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