Toronto Pan Am plans to cluster sports venues

The organizers of the 2015 Pan Am Parapan Games are scaling down the geographic scope of the massive event to stay within their $1.4-billion budget.

Organizers of the 2015 Pan Am Games are scaling down the geographic scope of the massive event to stay within their $1.4-billion budget.

The Games' organizing committee released budget details and unveiled its venue plan at a news conference Friday.

"We're using a combination of new construction and repurposing of existing facilities," said TO2015 CEO Ian Troop said in a statement. "That means affordable, accessible Games as well as an important legacy of new facilities throughout the region."

Organziers plan to have seven core venues — or clusters — in the Toronto area that will host two or more sports.

Toronto Pan Am Park will host more than a dozen sports, such as road cycling, triathlon, squash and rugby.

The Pan Am complex at the Scarborough campus of the University of Toronto will host aquatic and field sports such as swimming, diving and pentathlon.

The other so-called clusters are located in Mississauga, Markham, Etobicoke as well as the University of Toronto's downtown complex and another at York University.

Organizers say putting more sports in one venue will keep costs down to help the organizing committee stay within its budget.

The revised Pan Am Games plan, which still requires final approval, involves 11 municipalities and three universities hosting 36 sports. The original 2009 Toronto 2015 bid book involved 16 municipalities hosting 36 sports at more than 40 venues.

Mississauga will be the centre for combative sports, Markham will host water polo, badminton and table tennis among other events, and Etobicoke will host archery, BMX cycling and bowling.

The downtown Toronto complex at the University of Toronto will host field hockey, roller sports and handball, while the York University complex in the city's north end will host athletics and tennis.

Other events will be spread throughout southern Ontario, including soccer in Hamilton, basketball and sailing in Toronto, equestrian sports in Caledon and Orangeville, canoe and kayak in Welland and Minden Hills, mountain cycling in Oro-Medonte, rowing in St. Catharines and boxing in Oshawa.

Negotiations are underway with Milton for a four-season velodrome for track cycling. The committee says it's also reviewing proposals for an eighth cluster to host baseball and softball and is in discussions for a site for shooting sports.

Golf Canada will also seek proposals from course operators in the region to host golf during the Games, the committee says.

Of its overall budget, $674 million will go towards capital costs such as new venues and renovating existing facilities. Another $767 million is budgeted for the operations of staging the Games. The fiscal plan also sets aside $82 million as a contingency fund.

The federal and Ontario governments are contributing $500 million each, with Ontario providing an additional $22 million to renovate Ivor Wynne stadium.

Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said the government is investing in the Games because they will have a "long-lasting, positive economic impact" on the country.

"Hosting the Games in 2015 will have enduring economic benefits for the GTA, the region and our nation as a whole," he said at the news conference. "That is why the Games were mentioned specifically in the (federal) budget this year."

The Games will help create construction jobs in the short-term and boost tourism in the long-term, Flaherty said.

Municipalities, universities and venue owners will be kicking in $228 million for the infrastructure built in their communities. The committee also plans to raise $153 million from sponsors, tickets and other sources of revenue.

The budget doesn't include the cost of building the athletes' village in downtown Toronto — which is currently underway — or the Markham Fieldhouse, which is being picked up by the municipality.

Charles Sousa, the Ontario minister responsible for the Pan Am Games, said the massive event will also create much-needed jobs in the province.

"(The Pan Am Games) have also accelerated projects, such as the revitalization of Toronto's waterfront through the construction of the athletes' village and the air-rail link, which will benefit our children and grandchildren," he said in a release.