TORONTO STEPS UP TO THE PODIUM
This summer Toronto will play host to the largest sporting event in Canada’s history. The PanAm and ParaPan Am Games are taking place July 7 to July 26, 2015 and will feature an estimated 6,000 athletes from 41 countries competing in 36 sports. Being an event of this scale, it will take place in venues located in 15 municipalities across southern Ontario and will require over 20,000 volunteers.
Toronto’s interest in bidding for the games was a result of failing to land the 1996 and the 2008 Summer Olympics, which were held in Atlanta and Beijing, respectively. At the time, Toronto lacked the essential infrastructure needed to accommodate the influx of tourists and unique sports venues. To appease organizers, the 15 municipalities, along side the federal and provincials governments committed over $2.5 billion for infrastructure, security and other essential costs. One such example is the new air link that will connect Pearson Airport to Union Station. Although not directly connected to the games, Union station has also gone through a major overhaul to facilitate a surge in ridership and downtown population.
The 2015 Pan American Games will become the first of its kind in several ways. There will be new sports featured, including women’s baseball and golf. More so, there will be a focus to elevate the Paralympic Movement through fully integrating both Pan Am and ParaPan Am games simultaneously. With an athlete-focused approach, the event will be highly inclusive to people of all abilities.
With all of this said, given the scale of the games, it is not surprising that there is a total of 1.4 million tickets for sale. With a large majority of tickets priced under $45 to encourage attendance, revenue from tickets and media rights will only cover ten percent of the cost to stage the games. The hope is that there will be a broader economic impact from the 250,000 expected visitors, but first signs are not encouraging as according to CBC News, hotel occupancy rates are falling short of the industry’s expectations. Strained budgets have deterred cities around the world from hosting mega-sporting events due to the skewed financial benefit.
In conclusion, immediate financial rewards are limited and the athletes will come and go, but the facilities will stay here to benefit future tourists and generations of Toronto residents will also benefit from the significant government investment into new projects and improvement of existing roads, buildings, rail systems and infrastructure.
We hope you take the time to enjoy this world class event and join us in wishing all the athletes from Canada and abroad the best of luck during these 2015 Pam Am and ParaPan Am games.