Soccer in southern Ontario would receive a major kick forward if Premier Dalton McGuinty took on a leadership role in acquiring the 2015 Pan American Games for the region.
Part of the job already has been done by Michael Chambers of Ottawa, the president of the Canadian Olympic Committee, and Paul Henderson of Toronto, a former member of the International Olympic Committee and president of the International Sailing Federation.
The pair recently visited Vasquez Rana in Mexico City, head of the Pan-American Games and, therefore, the most influential person to talk to about southern Ontario's bid plans. They came away satisfied that this area would have a good chance of getting the Sport Festival of the Americas, providing the Ontario government would take on a leadership role.
"Improved soccer and other sports facilities would benefit from us hosting the 2015 Games," Henderson said yesterday. "For instance, the final of the soccer tournament would be played at the new Ivor Wynne Stadium in Hamilton, a site which could be built only if we get the Games.
"Cities such as Barrie, St. Catharines, London could benefit from the Games by hosting various events.
"We can't wait for the feds to do something internationally. The Ontario preem has to grab the bull by the horns and lead our Pan-Am bid just like B.C. Premier (Gordon) Campbell supported Vancouver's Olympic bid."
Henderson is frustrated and I can understand it. After all, Ontario hasn't played host to a major international multi-sport event since 1932. And that, friends, was 76 years ago!
NEW FOE FOR TORONTO FC
Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber awarded the city of Philadelphia an expansion franchise that will begin play in 2010. The Philadelphia team would play its home games in a new 20,000-seat stadium in Chester, Pa.
"Philadelphia brings in one of the most passionate sports markets in the country and provides a natural rivalry with the New York Red Bulls and D.C. United," the commissioner said. "We look forward to celebrating the world's most popular sport in the country's fourth-largest market and in a state-of-the-art soccer-specific stadium."
The stadium will be 13 miles from downtown Philadelphia and will be part of a new major development project.
Barrie Spirits under-14 girls team coach Ian MacIver is trying to raise funds to help fulfill a dream of his young proteges. The team has successfully qualified in a regional tournament and received an invitation to the Disney International Youth soccer tournament held in Orlando, Fla., in July. Contributions could be sent to MacIver at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling him at 705-733-2203...TLN will broadcast Champions League second-round, second-leg games tomorrow (AC Milan vs. Arsenal) and Wednesday (Real Madrid vs. AS Roma), both at 2:35 p.m. ... German soccer idol Franz Beckenbauer and England great Bobby Charlton are honoured members of the Laureus Academy, along with stars of other sports such as Mark Spitz and Dawn Fraser of swimming, Katarina Witt of figure skating, Boris Becker and Monica Seles of tennis, Emerson Fittipaldi of car racing, Marvelous Marvin Hagler of boxing, Kip Keino of track and field, Severiano Ballesteros of golf, Nadia Comaneci of gymnastics and others. The Academy and international journalists annually select award-winning athletes.