Pan Am dashes to T.O.

JENNY YUEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:29 AM ET

The glory of the 100-metre dash in the Pan Am Games is coming to Toronto.

Speculation about where in the GTA the high-profile track and field events will be held were laid to rest Thursday. Ian Troop, the CEO of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games organizing committee, made the announcement -- so the search is on for a location for the stadium.

"We're interested in locating track and field closer to the actual athletes' village, in easy proximity from mass transit, so it's going to be in Toronto," Troop said. "I wouldn't say it's cast in stone yet, but we're all thinking it makes sense."

Hamilton was originally slated to host the track and field events but a number of factors prompted the move, Troop said.

Athletics Canada, the governing body of track and field in this country, have insisted since May that they wouldn't be happy with long commute times to the venues from the athletes' village in the West Don Lands.

"They said they'd prefer it'd be closer to Toronto, given the transportation issues and especially the complexity of track and field, shifting individual athletes back and forth," Troop said. "They are supportive of a move into Toronto."

It is not clear whether the Toronto track and field stadium will be newly built or use existing infrastructure, Troop said, but the committee is looking at both options.

Both the University of Toronto and York University were scouting options for a facility, but according to York spokesman Keith Marnoch, there have not been any negotiations.

"But if we can help them out, we will be there to see what we can do," he said.

Access to transit, the ability for the surrounding area to handle the facility, the stadium's use after the games, and potential financing partners will all be key factors in the decision, Troop said.

Pan Am Games bid originator Paul Henderson said the decision to bring track and field to Toronto will create a legacy for the sport for years to come.

"This is also good for Hamilton too," he said. "To put an eight-lane running track and all the pits you require for the field events makes it a terrible CFL football stadium."

Hamilton will be getting its own soccer field, which will be the new stadium for the Tiger-Cats. There has been some heated debated between the owners of the football team and the city over the location of the new venue, but council is poised to make a final decision on Aug. 12.

Pan Am organizers were originally looking at BMO Field in Toronto to handle the 30-odd soccer games, but new natural grass in the stadium will stop that many matches in such a short period of time from being played there.


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