Grass playing fields at the University of Toronto (U of T) will transform into two world-class field hockey pitches to host one of the world’s most popular sports during the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Games, organizers announced on November 2.
Known as the Pan Am Field Hockey Centre during the Pan Am Games, the project is jointly funded by the Government of Canada and the University of Toronto. The fields, located at the university’s St. George Campus, will open in July 2014 - a year before the start of the Games.
“These state-of-the-art, water-based turf fields will ensure athletes who compete here during the TORONTO 2015 Games have a world-class field of play,” said Ian Troop, Chief Executive Officer of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am / Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015).
“We’re also creating an amazing legacy facility for the U of T Varsity Blues women’s team who have dominated field hockey nationally and provincially for decades, as well as doubling the number of these specially constructed water-based fields in the Greater Toronto Area.”
The new Pan Am Field Hockey Centre, with temporary seating for up to 2,000 spectators, will house two international Global Class 1 pitches - a warm-up pitch and a competition pitch - to host all levels of the game. Global category pitches are the standard required by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) for all international competitions.
Currently in Canada, there are six international grade water-based field hockey turfs that are suitable for international competition and that have been updated in the last five years. Of those six, five are located in British Columbia and only three are capable of hosting international-level tournaments.
Water-based turf fields are irrigated before, during and after games in accordance with international sport federation regulations. The wetted-down turf reduces friction on the ball and creates an ideal field of play.
The sport is also growing, with an estimated 15,000 field hockey athletes across Canada. Thirty per cent of these athletes are located in Ontario.
“This new facility is an eagerly anticipated addition to our sport and recreation infrastructure,” said Ira Jacobs, Dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University of Toronto. “It will be a tremendous legacy not only for our student athletes and high-performance competition, but for all U of T students and community members who enjoy a range of recreational pursuits on the field.”
In July 2015, the Pan Am Field Hockey Centre will host both the men’s and women’s field hockey competitions, which are both qualifiers for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“As Host City for the 2015 Pan American / Parapan American Games, we look forward to welcoming athletes to this state-of-the-art facility,” said Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford. “The Pan Am Field Hockey Centre will provide much-needed sports fields for young athletes and help the city attract future national and international competitions.”
Since the 1960s, the University of Toronto has led the development of field hockey in Canada. Its men’s and women’s teams have won numerous championships and groomed players for Canada’s Olympic and national teams.
Current head coach, John De Souza, won a Pan Am silver medal in 1995 and was the assistant coach for the gold-medal-winning men’s team at the Rio de Janeiro 2007 Pan Am Games. Beth Ali, the university’s Director of Intercollegiate and High Performance Sport, spent six years on the Field Hockey Canada national team coaching staff and represented Canada at the 2003 Pan Am Games in the Dominican Republic.
The overall project costs for this facility are anticipated to come in at $9.5 million, which includes $6.25 million to build and finance the project. The remainder is comprised of capital expenditures for equipment, transaction fees, project management and other ancillary costs. The project is on budget and phased construction will start in July 2013.
During the Parapan Am Games in August 2015, the venue will be known as the Parapan Am Soccer Centre when it hosts football 5-a-side and football 7-a-side competitions.
Last spring, TO2015 announced the cluster and sport program for the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Games. At that time, it also announced details of the budget for both Games. TO2015 will issue quarterly budget updates starting this fall.
Image caption: Left to Right: Ira Jacobs (Dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education), Bruce Kidd (Olympian & Warden of Hart House), Mark Grimes (City of Toronto Councillor & Pan Am Games Secretariat), Bal Gosal (Minister of State - Sport), Ken Pereira (hockey Olympian), Ian Troop (CEO of TO2015), Charles Sousa (Ontario Minister responsible for the Pan Am / Parapan Am Games), Katarina Vulic (U of T student) and Emily Rix (athlete).
Source: TO2015 website
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