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Hamilton stadium decision expected by mid-February

Pan American Games organizers will go behind closed doors until mid-February, to ask hard questions about the proposal for renovating the 81-year-old Ivor Wynne Stadium for Pan Am soccer games, Ian Troop, the CEO of the organizing committee, said Thursday.

The CEO told reporters in a teleconference that the city and backers of the stadium proposal must still meet criteria of location, funding clarity and leaving an amateur-sport legacy, but that Hamilton remains the first choice. Toronto 2015 will also have backup proposals from Mississauga and Brampton.

"We want to make the Hamilton stadium work as our first and foremost priority ... and the fallbacks are precisely that. They're an insurance policy," Troop said.

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"You will hear from us again by the second week of February, which should give us time enough to come back with answers."

The revival of the Ivor Wynne idea came this week, after other sites for a new stadium were rejected by Hamilton city councillors or the CFL club.

Hamilton councillors voted unanimously Wednesday to have city staff examine the feasibility of the plan to rebuild Ivor Wynne for the Pan Am Games and continue to be the home for the Ticats. The councillors will see the city's own report in 10 days.

The vote came a day after Mayor Bob Bratina and Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young abandoned the hunt for new site, electing instead to renovate Ivor Wynne. The reported cost is $115-million and would see $70-million come from the Pan Am committee and $45-million from the city. If the project goes ahead, construction would begin next year and be completed in 2014. Young said the club would sign a 20-year lease to play there.

"Toronto 2015 has lot of questions, as do you," Troop said to reporters. "We look forward to getting a full proposal from the city to flesh this idea out.

"All parties need to sit down and talk, and to be fair to all parties involved, we're going to do this privately. It will be a clear, fair and ultimately transparent process ... but while the negotiations are under way, it will be a private process."

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Sports reporter

James Christie written sports for the Globe on staff since 1974, covering almost all beats and interviewed the big names from Joe DiMaggio, to Muhammad Ali, to Jim Brown to Wayne Gretzky. Also covered the 10 worst years in Toronto Maple Leafs hockey history. More

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