High fives all around, folks. The City of Toronto has won the 2015 Pan Am Games, beating out Bogota, Colombia, and Lima, Peru by a 33 of 52 vote on the first ballot. After losing out to world-class cities in its five attempts to attract two Olympic Games, two Commonwealth Games and one attempt to get a World’s Fair, Toronto relegated itself to the minor leagues and finally got the international recognition it has craved. Well sort of.
Like its major pro sports teams—Leafs, Raptors, Blue Jays and Argonauts—Toronto cannot compete with the best. Major league cities go for the Olympics, Toronto settles for the Pan Am Games as a sort of consolation prize. Are the likes of Bogota and Lima Toronto’s new peers? Can’t that once-proud city any longer strive to compete with the big boys? Apparently not.
Ontario’s Premier Dalton McGuinty, Toronto’s Mayor David Miller and former premier David Peterson, minor leaguers all, see this as a great achievement, but how much in the way of congratulations are really in order for the acquisition of a sporting event the average Ontarian doesn’t care two cents worth about?
The Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) is the organizer for the regional games involving only nations from the Americas. An organization which, by the way, has long had a bias against the United States and Canada whenever close decisions have been in the balance during their multi-sport event which is held every four years. But debt ridden Ontario plans to spend $1.4-billion to hold the games in the GTA and nearby region, including Hamilton.
As with any of these bids, we’re ask to believe that enormous benefits will accrue to the region in the way of jobs and tourism: the 2015 Pan Am Games are expected to create an estimated 15,000 construction jobs to build infrastructure, and is expected to boost tourism by some 250,000 visitors.
Not bad, I suppose, if we get that much. But judging from the interest shown in this part of the world whenever past games have been played, I doubt the 2015 version will be well attended.
Winnipeg, of course, held the games in 1967 and again in 1999 earning a tiny profit in 1999 of about $8-million. But, with a budget of about $140-million, the Winnipeg Games were a much more modest affair than Toronto’s $1.4-billion bid.
But, hey, its only taxpayers money, and Dalton McGuinty has loads of that.
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© 2009 Russell G. Campbell
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