By Geoff Zochodne/The Oshawa Express
The numbers behind the sweet science made sense for City council, who voted in favour of making Oshawa the host of the 2015 Pan Am Games' boxing events.
As a result, pugilists from the Americas and the Caribbean are scheduled to square off at the General Motors Centre come July 2015. Council formally endorsed the event, which had been simmering on the back burner while the terms were being ironed out.
The City of Oshawa will also be a "Bronze"-level sponsor of the games. Council approved the $61,000 maximum sponsorship, to be paid for from the tax levy and budgeted over the next three years.
Ian Troop, chair of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games, appeared as a delegation to City council prior to their vote. He rattled off numerous reasons why boxing will be a huge draw and economic boon to Oshawa.
"Boxing is one of the most fiercely contested sports," he claims. "The Pan American nations produce some of the world's great boxers."
Troop's rapid-fire sales pitch floated plenty of ideas the City could choose to run with, or not, like staging live sites to watch the events, or creating an exhibit at the Oshawa Sports Hall of Fame. He pushed council to assist in creating a community task force to help coordinate in the run up to the games.
"Take the opportunity offered by hosting the Pan Am Games and run with it," says Troop. "Now is the time to start planning."
Troop estimated 27,000 spectators would come to Oshawa during the eight days of boxing; spending a projected $10 million while in town, a figure based off the Ontario Ministry of Tourism's models, he says.
Oshawa's foray onto the international stage actually begins in the summer of 2013, says Mayor John Henry, with the women's lacrosse World Cup being held in the city.
"I think that is the perfect segue," into the games, he says.
The mayor was visibly excited about the City's hosting duties. During the games, the General Motors Centre will be rented – at full price.
"We're going to pack the GM Centre every day of the games," he predicted.
Earlier talks had been rocky, as the City had been worried about cancelling other events planned for that summer, such as convocations for UOIT and Durham College.
"We've settled that," says Mayor Henry. "In the beginning they were looking for substantial concessions from us, it's not that now. We will be reimbursed."
The amount of time the GM Centre will be offline has been shortened under the new agreement, explains the mayor.
"We're also providing funding to make up for this lost revenue," says Troop.
"It's far enough out that we can do the appropriate planning to make it work," says Mayor Henry.
Oshawa had been looked at for softball, but cost concerns led to Ajax ultimately being awarded the event. Ajax will also have baseball, and Whitby's Abilities Centre will host some ParaPan Games events, like judo and bocce. Other events will be held throughout the Golden Horseshoe and in Toronto.
The other venues are coming along nicely, says Troop.
"We're right on schedule. We've got all our venues starting construction," he says. "We'll be ready in 2015 with all those events. In fact, we're coming in under budget, so we're in a great place to be from a venue standpoint. This is the most extensive capital program that's ever been done in Canada, so there's a lot going on, and it's great to be in the position we're in right now."
Other Pan Am perks, like a "legacy art project" for the City, is attached as well.
"This is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Oshawa," says Troop.
The Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games will run from July 10 to 26 2015.