London puts on welcome face

ERIC BENDER -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 7:37 AM ET

Extending a welcoming hand to the world requires a lot of muscle and forethought.

Just ask Chris Campbell, whose event management company is putting the finishing touches on the world lacrosse championships in London.

Events will be held at TD Waterhouse Stadium and the North London athletic fields at Adelaide Street and Kipps Lane. All the entertainment, apart from the opening ceremonies, will be at the North London fields.

Tents are being erected, playing fields marked and fencing, seating, generators and a stage are being put in place. But Campbell said the planning began months ago.

He had to get a handle on how many people are coming to London, who they are and what their habits are. For some participants and spectators, the stay will be a major vacation excursion.

"People tend to shop when on vacation," Campbell said, so he's worked with MainStreet London to steer visitors downtown, even though the tournament venues are in north and northeast London.

Party central for the tournament will be under the big tops at the North London fields.

It has a barbecue beer garden licenced for 3,200 for alcohol consumption.

It also has an area for food booths and 34 vendors (mostly with lacrosse-related items) and a stage for nightly entertainment, beginning Saturday.

Four nights are dedicated to tribute performances. Saturday, it's Almost Hip (the Tragically Hip); Sunday has Hotel California (the Eagles); July 20 features Shania's Twin (Shania Twain); and July 21, it's Elevator (U2).

The Mahones, an upbeat Celtic rock group, do the finale night July 22. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, the stage will be held by local musical groups.

All entertainment is free except for the Mahones. Tickets can be purchased at the North London fields.

Besides the main beer garden, there'll be a smaller licensed area adjacent to the main field at North London.

The tournament committee was busy yesterday completing the infrastructure.

There's parking at the North London fields but any overflow will be accommodated by running shuttle buses to more distant parking lots.

Mike Regan, a supervisor with the city, said the main effort for the tournament was, and will be, "stepped up turf maintenance" for the six fields at North London and the three on Windermere nearby.

"The fields will take a beating. We'll cut them every day," Regan said.

The fields have been reconfigured to lacrosse dimensions from soccer dimensions and the soccer net anchors removed on several fields.

For others, the soccer posts will be left in because the fields will still be used in the evenings for local soccer.

The city also put in some portable seating and will maintain a city crew of about 10 to remove garbage.

Most of the hardware, such as fencing, has been provided by Oxford Builders and the tents by Big Top Tents, which has made the facility possible, Campbell said.


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