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Plans for Pan American Games quietly move forward

Bill Senn (R), Executive Director for construction of Air Canada Center, the new home of the Toronto Raptors basketball team, stands with Manager of Construction Ian Stewart (L) at the site of the new arena, February 5, in downtown Toronto. The construction site, a former postal building, went into its first day of operation February 5, with the start of demolition. The arena, nicknamed "The Hangar," is controversial because the Torornto Maple Leafs of the NHL, plan no association with the facility. Opening is set for the All-Star break in 1999.

Miie blake

Almost forgotten amid all the hand-wringing over Hamilton City Council's rejection of sites for a soccer and football stadium, planning for the rest of the 2015 Pan American Games went ahead quietly this week.

Infrastructure Ontario released its "request for qualifications" for companies wanting to submit designs and financial plans for one of the gems of the Pan Am project - the swimming pools, field house and Canadian Sports Institute at the University of Toronto's Scarborough campus.

The Games will see five new sports structures and capital outlay of some $640-million as Ontario uses the Games to play catch-up on facilities in the province. Twenty-two existing venues also will be renovated.

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It is a "huge undertaking," says Bill Senn, senior vice president of infrastructure for the Pan Am Games organizing committee.

The new aquatic centre at the U of T Scarborough campus will be a huge 34,000 square metre facility. It will be have two 10-lane, 50-metre pools and a 5.5-metre diving tank, and a seating capacity of approximately 8,000. It will be home to swimming, synchronized swimming, diving, fencing - and the swimming and fencing disciplines of the modern pentathlon program during the July Pan Am Games as well as swimming and volleyball during the August Parapan Games for athletes with a disability.

The field house, which will have a maximum seating capacity of 3,000, will house a 200-metre indoor track, fitness facilities and approximately 1,800 square metres of flexible gymnasium space for training and competition.

The Canadian Sport Institute Ontario will be housed at the complex and will serve as a national high performance centre providing sport science, sport medicine, testing, coaching and training facilities.

After the 2015 Games, the pools and field house will be jointly owned by the city and the U of T and be used for high performance, university sports and community recreation.

The Pan Am and Parapan Games will involve 43 venues in all and approximately 8,500 athletes from countries in North, Central and South America and the Caribbean.

The 2015 Pan Am Games will involve 17 Ontario municipalities from Welland in the southwest to Minden in the northeast.

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The other structures to be built, according to a statement from Games organizers are:

- a 12,000-seat track and field stadium at York University;

- a 50-metre pool and gymnasium in Markham;

- a 3,500-seat velodrome in Hamilton;

- the soccer/football stadium - originally planned for Hamilton, but now possibly going to Mississauga, Brampton or Markham as a 15,000-seater.

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About the Author
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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