Olympic bronze medallist Priscilla Lopes-Schliep and others will have a chance to race in front of a home crowd when the Pan American Games come to Toronto in 2015. ((Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press))

There was excitement and anticipation among Canadian athletes and sports officials following Friday's announcement that Toronto had been awarded the 2015 Pan Am Games.

The excitement was over an international sports competition being hosted on home soil.

The anticipation was over the new sports facilities that will be built for the Pan Ams and the hope that hosting the Games could be a stepping-stone toward Toronto being awarded a Summer Olympics.

"That's awesome," Olympic bronze medallist Priscilla Lopes-Schliep shouted when told the news. "This is going to be a win-win, for everyone. Whether it be the athletes or the people selling things.

"It's going to bring more people into Canada. It's going to help make the community stronger."

Lopes-Schliep has never competed at a Pan Am Games and would relish the chance at hurdling before a Canadian crowd.

"I'm hoping to run," she said. "If I'm not running, I want to be taking part in it. It's so exciting."

Victory for Canadian sports

The man who helped put the national swim team back on course called Toronto's win "a great victory for Canadian sports."

"We're trying to rebuild the Canadian sports system," said Pierre Lafontaine, Swimming Canada's chief executive officer and national team coach. "It's just another building block to the rightful place where we should belong in the world sports system."

Chris Rudge, chief executive officer of the Canadian Olympic Committee, said bringing the Pan Am Games to Toronto will benefit summer athletes much the same as winter athletes have reaped the rewards of the 1988 Calgary Games and 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

"Aside from the sport legacy that will drive us into the future, our goal is for Canada's summer athletes to continue the pattern of rising success at major competitions," Rudge said in a release. "This will be a Pan Am Games to watch."

The Pan American Sports Organization selected Toronto on the first ballot during its general assembly in Guadalajara, Mexico. Toronto won 33 votes, with Lima, Peru, receiving 11 and Bogota, Colombia, seven.

Lopes-Schliep said the facilities planned for the Games could be used by high-calibre athletes, kids wanting to get involved in sports and people looking for a healthy lifestyle.

"It's going to bring the community closer and stronger," she said from Nebraska, where she is currently training. "We are going to get more facilities, which is going to help the grassroots, the kids.

"The facilities are going to be a big help with the community. It's going to turn things around for the better. It's going to make the community bigger, better, stronger."

Venues spread out

Plans for the Games call for more than 50 venues in the region from Niagara Falls to Miden and Oshawa, including six new facilities to be built in Toronto, Markham and Hamilton.

Among the facilities would be the multi-sport Canadian Sport Institute Ontario, a new aquatics centre plus a pair of 50-metre training pools, a stadium with seating for 15,000 and a cycling velodrome.

The Games have a $1.4 billion budget for the sporting event itself and $1 billion for an athletes village, which could be turned into a mixed-income neighbourhood serviced by transit.

The federal and provincial governments are each on the hook for 35 per cent of the $1.4 billion, or about $500 million each. Municipalities and private investors will pay the remaining $428.5 million.

The addition of three new swimming pools will allow Toronto to finally host an internationally sanctioned swim event. But Lafontaine said not only elite athletes will benefit.

"People forget 50-metre pools just don't help world-class athletes," he said. "They help everybody.

"It allows a community to have much more flexibility in their programs. You can have swimming lessons on one side, a program for seniors on the other side, and still run a swim team or diving program."