Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area will be hosting the 2015 Pan American Games (XVII Pan American Games) starting today through July 26. The opening and closing ceremonies will be at Rogers Centre, though the venue is renamed for the duration of the tournament.
Cirque du Soleil will produce the opening ceremony with Governor General David Johnston officially opening the games. The parade of 41 nations from the Americas and a fireworks show involving the CN Tower will also be a part of the spectacle.
The Parapan Am Games will follow the Pan Am Games, running August 7–15.
This will be the third time Canada has hosted the Pan Am Games: the 1967 and 1999 versions were held in Winnipeg.
Tim Hortons Stadium in Hamilton is the soccer host site, and was built for the Pan Am Games. Of course, the stadium is also the home of the CFL Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
CBC will carry the Pan Am Games in English and French in Canada and for those in the States that can receive a CBC signal. CBC's coverage starts at 7 pm Eastern tonight.
Rogers Sportsnet will also carry some events, including soccer.
ESPN will carry the opening ceremony starting at 7:30 pm tonight. ESPN2 will have nightly coverage of events and ESPN Deportes will also have coverage in the United States.
Future Olympics site?
The Pan Am Games are not the Olympics. Keep repeating that. However since Toronto is the only realistic site for any future Summer Olympics in Canada, the Pan Am Games are a good test.
The cost to put on the Pan Am Games is reportedly $2.5 billion. There are new structures in place that could double for the Olympics at some point.
If you ask people in the GTA about trying to commute in the lead up to the Pan Am Games, they might give a resounding "no" to that question. Then again, Olympics gives cities a chance to fix some of those issues. The Canada Line in Vancouver is a really good example.
The High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes are not going over well among those who live in Toronto. 3 is the minimum instead of the traditional 2 people. Also, starting the restrictions 2 weeks early didn't go over well.
There is the new train from Union Station to Pearson Airport. The Union Pearson Express also stops at the Bloor and Weston GO stations. While the ticket is highly expensive for the average commuter ($27.50), athletes and officials won't likely have to suffer through the same fate.
The official Twitter feed of the Games notes that your game ticket gets you free public transit on game day. That will definitely help ease some of the traffic concerns.
Other sports leaving town for awhile
The Pan Am Games will have an impact on the MLB and CFL schedules in Canada.
The Toronto Blue Jays will have a 3-game homestand with Tampa Bay following the All-Star Game. Otherwise, the MLB team will be on the road during the Pan Am Games.
The Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats will be either on the road or taking a bye week during the games. Both teams return to the area Monday, August 3 in Hamilton.
What this means for Toronto
Toronto is a world-class city but has suffered from image problems and a bit of insecurity. The city finally has a mayor that wants to march in the Pride Parade. The international feel to the city lends itself to events such as the Pan Am Games and possibly the Olympics.
Sure there will be headaches over transportation and traffic and other unexpected issues. Huge events bring that out. But Toronto deserves something this glorious. Hopefully, those in the city and others visiting Canada's largest city can see that Toronto can be a wonderful host.
photo credit: 2015 Pan Am Games