Pan Am Games bid adds muscle with outreachhttp://www.thespec.com/News/BreakingNews/article/572336
The Hamilton Spectator
[i]TORONTO — Branding, bonding and a Hamilton-inspired outreach program were the key themes as the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games bid book was unveiled today.
The launch of the 233-page document backed up the sales pitch that southern Ontario is the must market for the Games movement to reinvent itself in North America.
There was a strong emphasis on the athlete experience, with young people gathering in a region rich in international flavours.
Moreover, a potential vote-clincher in the competition to win the Games and attendant Parapan Games is a program building on a born-in-Steeltown initiative
from the city’s two Commonwealth Games bids.
The four-point plan will help athletes and coaches from smaller countries among the 42-member Pan American Sports Organization, or PASO, come to Canada and enjoy training and coaching help in advance of the Games. It would involve athlete scholarships, clinics, and sports administration and marketing workshops.
“If everything else is equal, it could be a tipping point,? said Mike Chambers of the Canadian Olympic Committee. “I’ve never seen something like this in a bid which was backed up with a real budget.?
Chambers, who sits on the 2015 Pan Am board and is an executive member of PASO, called it a “foundational and persuasive? element of Toronto 2015, which spans municipalities from Oshawa to Welland.
Hamilton’s 2010 Commonwealth Games bid proposed that athletes and coaches from smaller countries could come to McMaster University for training, coaching and sports medicine opportunities.
“This is unique to our bid in this competition and most PASO countries say it is one area they can benefit from,? Chambers said. “They’re going to want that leading up to 2015. It could make the difference in the competition, it’s that important.?
The southern Ontario bid faces competition from Lima, Peru, and Bogota, Colombia.
Chambers said it is vital the money to support the programs is in Toronto 2015’s $1.4-billion Games budget, as other bids have made vague promises with no financial accounting.
Chambers was on the evaluation committee that looked at Rio de Janeiro and San Antonio, Texas, for the 2007 Games, which Rio won, and noted the American bid failed to back up with money its offer of help to other nations.
While the Toronto 2015 bid book did not break out funding, Chambers said it was clearly there for the program.
Bid president Jagoda Pike said the new opportunities program grew out of the Commonwealth Games experience, as Hamilton’s bid leaders saw the inequities among countries.
“There was a huge discrepancy between big, rich countries and smaller countries that really need help with sport development,? she said. “It’s the same with PASO. Some national sports organizations don’t aspire to win more medals, they aspire to win a medal.?
In fact, some PASO countries have never won a single medal, she said.
“What we’re hearing from delegates is, ‘Help us take our game up before the Games,’ so these programs would be a pre-Games legacy run in the four years leading up to the Games.?
Gymnast Alexandra Orlando, who has competed in Pan Am and Olympic Games, said the program is unique.
“This is such a great opportunity to help athletes from those countries grow. They’re incredibly talented but don’t have the resources to back them up.?
A successful bid would deliver Hamilton a $100-million stadium for athletics and an $11-million velodrome for the West Harbour location at Barton and Tiffany streets.
McMaster would get a $35-million pool suitable for international competition.
Hamilton would stage track and field, track cycling, volleyball at Copps Coliseum and soccer at Mac’s Ron Joyce Stadium. Burlington would host early-round soccer at Sherwood Forest Park. The Mac pool would be for training.
When the bid book was presented to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty today, he said it was important to stress why he championed the Games, citing the link between sports, recreation and health.
“We want our kids to be inspired by our amateur athletes,? he said. “We want more kids from all backgrounds pursuing amateur sports. And we want our kids to be healthy.?
He also cited 15,000 construction jobs, many in Hamilton, and a $1-billion athletes’ village in Toronto’s West Donlands that will provide market and low-income housing.
In Bogota, Mayor Samuel Moreno lauded his city’s bid, which he said had all facilities in a six-kilometre zone, and criticized Toronto 2015’s spread-out plan.
But GamesBids.com quoted him as conceding Bogota’s altitude of 2,650 metres was a email@example.com[/i]