Toronto in hunt for 2014 Games

GEORGE GROSS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 11:04 AM ET

The latest, behind-the-scenes, sporting event is taking place in five Canadian cities.

Indeed, Toronto, Calgary, Hamilton, Halifax and the York Region are busy making a pitch for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, an event within reach of a Canadian city. They are all hoping that the Canadian Commonwealth Games Committee will accept their effort in a battle against Edinburgh, another contender.

BEHIND THE BIDS

Although the competing cities are trying to keep their involvement quiet, a little investigation revealed that former Commonwealth Games gold medallist Diane Jones Konihowski is behind the Calgary bid, former deputy prime minister Sheila Copps supports Hamilton's efforts, consultant Karen Petrie initiated Toronto's bid and York Region's efforts are sponsored by councillor Jimmy Jones, school board board chairman and former Olympic 800-metre silver medallist Bill Crothers, Olympian Doug Hamilton and former IOC member Paul Henderson.

The next two Commonwealth Games have been decided with Melbourne hosting the 2006 event and New Delhi the 2010 Games.

Toronto is probably out of the running mainly because mayor David Miller has his eyes set on a World's Trade Fair. However, councillor Jane Pitfield is supportive of the idea of playing host to a big international sports event.

Halifax interests lie with the group keen on bringing a CFL franchise to the city. By staging an event such as the Commonwealth Games, the group hopes to build a stadium that would attract commissioner Tom Wright and the CFL owners.

The push for Canada to play host to the 2014 Games also will come from Sport Canada. The federal amateur sport funding agency would like to see national sports centres in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. The western provinces and Quebec are in good shape in that regard while Ontario is in dire need of such a setup. This brings us to the York Region and its hotbed -- Newmarket.

"We are working on putting a team together," council member Jones said. "I know that we have Henderson, Hamilton and Crothers, who are very important. I've also talked to other council members and they agreed that the Games would be beneficial for the region."

Crothers, who was born in Markham, was one of Canada's most respected athletes. The studious pharmacist, who has been chairman of the School Board for more than a dozen years, is not afraid to speak his mind.

"The first step is for the regional council to show some intestinal fortitude and support our efforts," Crothers said. "This region with its nine municipalities is growing at a rapid pace. Right now the population is hitting 900,000 and by 2014 we should have a population of about 1.5 million. And we need sports facilities."

Henderson, former head of Canada's failed 1996 Olympic Bid, added: "We lost to Atlanta and Coca Cola in 1996, mostly because our Toronto city councillors led by Jack Layton boycotted our efforts.

"I hope the York Region councillors will be much smarter. Holding the Commonwealth Games north of the 401 and 407 would leave a legacy for Canada and its athletes."

Hopefully, this time Henderson has hitched his wagon to a winning horse.

GROSSLY ABBREVIATED

Toronto's winningest team is the Toronto Maple Leafs Baseball Club, which has been operating at Christie Pits for 37 years. During that time, Jack and Lynne Dominico's team has won 18 pennants and seven championships. The Leafs are in first place in the Intercounty Baseball League as it heads into its final week ... Congratulations to Dr. Bob Jackson, former physician of the Argonauts. Jackson will be inducted into the United States Medical Hall of Fame next week. Jackson, a long time supporter of paralympic athletes and the surgeon who brought arthroscopic surgery to Canada from Japan more than three decades ago, is now a working surgeon in Dallas ... Bill Crothers runs the Intercounty Mixed Doubles Tennis tournament every year in the York Region. More than 1,600 players are participating ... Peter Bavasi, the 62-year-old first president of the Blue Jays, has joined his brother Bob as co-managing partner of the Marysville Yuba-Sutter Gold Sox.


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