July 10, 2014 6:56 pm

Pan Am Games hype has yet to take hold in Toronto

TORONTO – There are only 365 days left until Toronto kicks off the 2015 Pan Am Games and organizers are trying to get people excited.

The organizers hope approximately 250,000 visitors will come to the city during the athletic competition. Whether those that live and work in the GTHA want to stay remains to be seen.

Roughly 10,000 competitors, coaches and officials are expected as well as 20,000 volunteers for the games to be held across 32 different venues in 13 different municipalities.

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“We’ve shifted from a planning organization into an execution organization,” said Saäd Rafi, CEO for the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games. “[That] couldn’t be more important with one year left to go.”

But the Pan Am Games have been plagued with criticism over traffic plans and overspending.

Marketing efforts will be launched Friday and Saturday when a new coutdown clock will be revealed along with an appearance by Cirque du Soleil.

“Anything that’s a year out is a hard thing to block the date for,” said Rafi. “Every month reminding people, the game’s are coming, the game’s are coming. Get tickets.”

Venues are scheduled to open month by month as the games draw closer and will be available to local athletes to compete and practice.

Canadian swimmer Martha McCabe earned a fifth place finish in the 200-metre breaststroke at the London 2012 Olympics and wants people to come to the Pan Am Games.

“As athletes, each international event we atttend and participate in, we treat as the Olympics,” said McCabe. “To me, when I go to the Pan Am Games, it’s the most important event in my life at that time.”

Pan Am officials are hoping to have 70 per cent of all tickets available at $45 or less.

“We want families to enjoy this,” said Rafi. “We don’t want this to be a once-in-a-lifetime thing that you’ll never get to see again. So that’s really ths difference.”

Current estimates peg the total cost for the games at about $2.5 billion.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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