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Pan Am Games won't budge on stadium deadline

The game may be soccer, but the Pan American Games committee continues to play hardball with its deadline date for a stadium.

"The February 1, 2011 deadline will not be extended under any circumstances," Pan Am chief Ian Troop said last night in a statement. Any offer from Burlington, Ont., for an offer of land to accommodate a facility for soccer games and be a new home for the Canadian Football League's Hamilton Tiger-Cats would still have to meet the tight timeline, Troop said.

Thursday, Burlington city council approved a motion asking city staff to investigate a plan to build a stadium in the Aldershot area. Staff is to produce a report by Jan. 18. The Tiger-Cats have hoped to use Pan Am Games financial input to pay in part for a replacement for 80-year-old Ivor Wynne Stadium. But getting enough done by the February Pan Am time limit is an unanswered question.

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"For Toronto 2015, February 1st is not just a deadline, but a start line for our contingency plans should the organizing committee need to move in that direction," Troop said. The municipalities of Mississauga, Brampton and Markham have said they are willing to be contingency locations for soccer games if the deadline passes without Hamilton deciding on a site.

On December 22, Hamilton City Council rejected as too expensive a CP Rail Yard site and voted down proposal by Mayor Bob Bratina for a site at Confederation Park. The Council meets once again on Jan. 12 on a West Harbour site in Hamilton, but the Ticats have already balked at that location.

"The February 1st deadline is based on environmental assessments, construction timelines and testing schedules - all required to ensure the facility is ready in time for the Games." Troop said. "We must remember the mandate of the Pan/Parapan American Games is to promote amateur sport. The Games legacy will be to create much-needed infrastructure which promotes healthy, active communities and high performance amateur athletic development."

He said the City of Hamilton remained "in the driver's seat" to come up with a stadium site by February 1, but Brampton, Markham and Mississauga have been asked to submit a detailed plan (confirmation of site, funding commitment and delivery timetable) late this month.

"Should the municipality of Burlington wish to submit a proposal for the larger CFL venue, it will be evaluated using the same standards, criteria and deadline as applied to Hamilton," Troop said

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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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