Toronto has all sport venues except a track and field stadium for Olympic bid

People make their way towards the CN Tower and Rogers Centre to see the opening ceremony of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games on July 10, 2015. The Games gave Toronto new sports facilities and tested existing ones for an Olympic Games bid, if the city has the appetite for it. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/ Gregory Bull

Toronto has just played host to 6,100 athletes in 36 sports. Could the city do the same for 10,500 athletes in 28 sports?

From a sports venues point of view the answer is yes, with a couple of significant and costly additions.

The 2015 Pan American Games gave Toronto new sports facilities and tested existing ones for an Olympic Games bid, if the city has the appetite for it.

The International Olympic Committee’s deadline to submit names of candidate cities for the 2024 Summer Games is Sept. 15.

READ MORE: Timing may be right for Toronto to bid on 2024 Olympics, observers say

Rome, Paris, Boston, Hamburg, Germany and Budapest, Hungary have expressed their interest in bidding. The host city will be announced in 2017.

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Toronto mayor John Tory has said the city will wait until the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games conclude Aug. 15 to decide on a bid.

Toronto hosting the Pan Am Games dovetails with the IOC’s recent efforts to make bidding for and hosting Olympic Games more affordable.

“Absolutely unbelievable timing,” Canadian Olympic Committee president Marcel Aubut said. “That fits together perfectly.”

The fact that only two cities bid for the 2022 Winter Games set off alarm bells within the IOC. Among 40 new recommendations the IOC adopted in December under the title “Agenda 2020” was encouraging cities to use existing and temporary venues to reduce costs.

“The 2020 Agenda is to make all the rules so flexible,” Aubut said.

“If you have a venue which is not exactly what you would like to have, they find a way to use it instead to build one white elephant that nobody is going to go to after.”

But Toronto currently lacks the centrepiece of a Summer Games – an 80,000-seat stadium for opening and closing ceremonies and the premiere event of track and field.

Rogers Centre holds less than 55,000 and hasn’t hosted a track event since Donovan Bailey went head-to-head with American Michael Johnson in a 150-metre race in 1997. The refurbished and expanded track at York Stadium seats only 10,000.

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Not sport specific, but central to the Games, another larger, athletes village would have to built as the Pan Am village will be turned over to Toronto for residential use.

But Toronto holds up well in most other competition spaces meeting international standards such as the Air Canada Centre (basketball), the Aviva Centre (tennis) and BMO Field (soccer).

The swimming pool runs a close second to the stadium in importance at the Summer Olympics because it’s in use almost every day of the Games.

The shiny new Pan Am/Parapan Am Aquatic Centre and Field House is world-class and can expand its 6,000-seat capacity. London’s pool held 17,000 in 2012, for example, but much of that was temporary seating and removed after the Games.

A Toronto bid could also incorporate Mississauga’s Hershey Centre, Brampton’s PowerAde Centre and Hamilton’s 19,000-seat FirstOntario Centre for arena space. Hamilton’s Tim Horton’s Field and Ottawa’s TD Place are also options for soccer and rugby.

Here’s a look at Toronto’s current sports venues and Olympic potential:

  • Archery – Varsity Stadium.
  • Badminton, table tennis, water polo – Markham Pan Am/Parapan Am Centre.
  • Basketball – The 3,300 seat Mattamy Centre was the Pan Am venue, but the Air Canada Centre is an NBA venue seating 19,800.
  • Beach volleyball – Many location options for what was a temporary structure at Exhibition Place.
  • Boxing, weightlifting – Oshawa Sports Centre.
  • Golf – Angus Glen Golf Club with regular PGA stop Glen Abbey Golf Course also an option.
  • Canoe/kayak, sprint – Welland Flatwater Centre needs to expand seating from 500.
  • Canoe/kayak, slalom – Minden Wild Water Preserve may be a 2.5-hour drive northeast of Toronto, but working with what’s there is less expensive than building a new course closer to Toronto.
  • Cycling BMX – Centennial Park.
  • Cycling Mountain Biking – Hardwood Hills, Oro-Medonte, Ont.
  • Cycling road – Exhibition Place, Lakeshore Drive.
  • Cycling track – Velodrome in Milton, Ont.
  • Equestrian, jumping, eventing, dressage – Caledon Equestrian Park.
  • Field hockey – New pitch at University of Toronto seats just 1,800. Another pitch in Brampton meets international standards.
  • Gymnastics, artistic, rhythmic, trampoline – Held in the 7,700-seat Ricoh Coliseum during Pan Ams, but artistic gymnastics needs larger venue.
  • Handball, volleyball – Exhibition Place.
  • Judo, taekwondo, wrestling – Mississauga Sports Centre.
  • Rowing – Royal Canadian Henley Rowing Course, St. Catharines, Ont.
  • Rugby Sevens – BMO Field, Hamilton’s Tim Hortons Field, Ottawa’s TD Place.
  • Sailing – Lake Ontario.
  • Shooting – Toronto International Trap and Skeet Club in Innisfil.
  • Soccer – BMO Field, Hamilton’s Tim Hortons Field, Ottawa’s TD Place.
  • Swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, fencing, modern pentathlon – Pan Am/Parapan Am Aquatic Centre and Field House.
  • Marathon swimming, triathon – Lake Ontario, Exhibition Place.
  • Tennis – Aviva Centre.
  • Track and Field – No current stadium big enough.

With files from Lori Ewing


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