Toronto gears up for Pan Am bid

Representatives for Toronto's bid for the 2015 Pan Am Games say they're gearing up for a week of persuasion as they travel to Mexico ahead of next Friday's vote — and they're confident they can bring the games to Ontario.

Representatives for Toronto's bid for the 2015 Pan Am Games have one more week to sell their plan as they travel to Mexico ahead of next Friday's vote, and they're confident they can bring the Games to Ontario.

"Toronto needs a win, Toronto deserves a win," said bid chairman David Peterson.

"We're going to have a week of, shall we say, persuasion."

Peterson said Toronto deserves the event after losing two bids in the past, and added he's not disappointed Prime Minister Stephen Harper has declined an invitation to travel to Mexico for the decision.

Peterson, a former Ontario premier, said the prime minister is a busy man and he has made it clear he supports the $2.4-billion bid.

The delegation will be led by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, who will be traveling to Guadalajara on Wednesday night, along with Toronto Mayor David Miller and Federal Minister of State for Sport Gary Lunn.

Several Canadian athletes will also attend, including Olympic medallists Charmaine Crooks and Curt Harnett, and Pan Am winner Alexandra Orlando.

The group will make an hour-long presentation Friday after spending the week lobbying the Pan American Sport Organization along with Lima, Peru and Bogota, Colombia — the other bidding cities.

The agency represents the 42 nations across the Caribbean and the Americas whose National Olympic Committees will determine the host for the 2015 Games in November.

Effects of Toronto's bid

Peterson said he didn't expect Rio de Janeiro's winning bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics to affect PASO's decision, even though some say the fact that those Games went to South America may improve Toronto's chances for the Pan Ams.

While he's confident his team did a good job of promoting Toronto, Peterson warned it's always hard to know how people will vote, and there is always the possibility of sympathy votes, or votes based on friendships and historic relationships.

"This is a competition, this is tough, and you never know what people do in a ballot box," said Peterson.

The bid's price tag includes a budget of $1.4 billion for the sporting event itself and $1 billion for an athletes' village, which is expected to be turned into a mixed-income neighbourhood serviced by transit after the Games.

That's down from an original budget of reportedly $1.8 billion, which was slashed by $300 million by McGuinty in January because of the economic downturn.

McGuinty has said the Games would bring 15,000 construction jobs to the province, as well as sports facilities, housing and tourism.

The plan promises more than 50 venues in Ontario's Golden Horseshoe region — from Niagara Falls to Minden to Oshawa — including six new facilities to be built in Toronto, Markham and Hamilton.

Losing the bid, Peterson said, would cast a "bit of a black cloud" over the city, and it's an outcome he hasn't really considered.

"This will be a bit like a death in the family," he said. "You get over these things, but it takes a toll."