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Volleyball spiked; Hamilton scores with Pan Am soccer

By Kevin Werner, News Staff

The Toronto 2015 Pan Am organizing committee has further spiked Hamilton’s athletic ambitions for the global event.

As part of the organizing committee’s clustering strategy that has sharply cut the number of venues hosting events from 27 to 10, while boosting the number of clusters in the Toronto area from five to eight, Hamilton will become “soccer center” hosting 48 soccer games, from the original 20 at Ivor Wynne Stadium. In return, the city has lost volleyball, and a training facility at McMaster University.

“We are looking at Hamilton rallying around this thing,” said Troop, speaking to reporters. “I’m looking forward to them making that soccer venue be fantastic.”

Most of the soccer games in the original Pan Am bid book, including the medal rounds, were scheduled to be held at BMO field where Toronto FC plays its home games.

“What we are doing in this clustering is centralizing sports, so that benefited Hamilton,” said Troop. “We are moving volleyball to Toronto to be in the Pan Am Park. That’s the changes we are making as we try to maximize the sports and maximize the efficiency of these games.”

Troop said all of the soccer games will be held at the rebuilt $152 million Ivor Wynne Stadium. In the bid book, a few of the soccer contests were to be held at McMaster University.

“It makes a lot of sense for us to commit and put soccer in the new facility. We will have to look at the scheduling,” said Troop, referring to how the facility will handle the number of games. He said the 2011 Guadalajara Pan Am Games organizing committee managed to hold all of the soccer games in one venue.

The Toronto 2015 Pan Am games committee has taken the proposed indoor volleyball games scheduled for Copps Coliseum, and added them to the outdoor beach volleyball event in downtownToronto. In addition, McMaster Universitywill not host any aquatic events, or training sessions at its venue.

Troop added soccer players will be transported from the Pan Am village in downtownToronto to the games. He shot down the idea there would be a satellite village in Hamilton to house athletes.

Since Hamilton joined with other municipalities for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games, it has lost the track and field events, the velodrome, and now volleyball, swimming, and a second cultural festival event.

But Troop said three practice soccer fields are being constructed in Burlington at New CityPark at the corner of Kerns Road and Dundas Street. The main field will have seating for about 1,000 people when it’s completed in 2013.

Troop also quashed any notion the Pan Am committee will reimburse the Hamilton Tiger-Cats for any potential losses in revenue if the rebuilt Ivor Wynne stadium isn’t completed on time. Tiger-Cat officials have stated they will lose about $1.5 million per game in revenues if the venue isn’t ready.

“No. We are building them a free stadium, they should be paying me,” said Troop.

The Toronto 2015 committee is also offering Hamilton to hold a second cultural festival, besides the official event scheduled for downtownToronto. There was some consternation among Hamilton’s Pan Am officials that Toronto wasn’t going to sanction another festival beyond the one inToronto.

“Let’s really rally around that,” said Troop, who didn’t endorse the festival as an official Pan Am 2015 event. “We invite Hamiltonto go make it what they want it to be.  The ball’s in Hamilton’s court to really grab hold of this thing and celebrate what you’ve got and culturally, that could be a tremendous part of this.”

During a May 11 news conference at the Corus Quay alongToronto’s waterfront, Troop, along with Jim Flaherty, federal finance minister, and Toronto mayor Rob Ford, trumpeted the economic benefits of the games for the Greater Toronto Area.

Troop called the clustering strategy, “prudent” and “reasonable” that will provide “value for money.”

The largest cluster will be along the waterfront at Exhibition Place and Ontario Place which is being called Pan Am Park. It will host 12 sports.

Pending the final agreements with municipalities, the number of cities taking part has shrunk from 16 to 11, with three universities hosting 36 sports in 40 venues.

The games are costing about $2.4 billion, with $1 billion allocated for the athletes’ village. About $674 million is for capital costs, with $767 million is slated for staging the games. The federal and provincial governments are contributing $500 million each, with the Ontario government chipping in $22 million to renovate Ivor Wynne Stadium. The organizers have set aside $82 million for a contingency fund.

Municipalities, universities, and venue owners are providing $228 million, while $153 million is expected to be generated through ticket sales, and other merchandise.

The games are expected to attract about 10,000 athletes, coaches, and trainers from 41 countries.

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