Ryerson Athletic Centre Named Home of Basketball at TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games

Venue hosting Women's World Wheelchair Basketball Championship June 20–28

TORONTO, June 19, 2014 /CNW/ - The Ryerson Athletic Centre will be centre court for every men's and women's basketball game, including wheelchair basketball, at the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games.

In preparation for the Games, the venue is hosting the 2014 Women's World Wheelchair Basketball Championship starting today and running until Saturday, June 28. The championship is a test event for the Games and is expected to generate almost $4 million in economic spinoffs for the city.

"Basketball and wheelchair basketball will be two of the most popular sports at the TORONTO 2015 Games — and this is an incredibly intimate venue where you can be close to the action," said Saäd Rafi, chief executive officer of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015).

"We encourage everyone to get a sneak peek of what the venue will be like during Games time by checking out the 2014 Women's World Wheelchair Basketball Championship," he added.

Close to 150 top women's wheelchair basketball players from 12 countries will be competing this month in 44 games — the largest women's world championship in the sport's history. Five of those countries — Canada, United States, Mexico, Brazil and Peru — will likely return in 2015 to compete at Ryerson for the Parapan Am Games.

The 2014 Women's World Wheelchair Basketball Championship will mark the first time the event is held on Canadian soil. Previously, Edmonton hosted the men's Worlds in 1994. The World Championships are held only every four years. The 2010 defending champs are Team USA, while Canada placed third.

The TORONTO 2015 Parapan Am Games will also mark the first time major events in both men's and women's wheelchair basketball will be simultaneously hosted in Canada.

"Two of the most exciting competitions at the 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games will be basketball and wheelchair basketball, making the Ryerson Athletic Centre the place to be," said the Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport).

"As a result of our Government's contribution to the Games," he said, "our talented athletes will have the opportunity to compete here at home, starting with the 2014 Women's World Wheelchair Basketball Championship. Events such as this will help build the momentum as we prepare to take on the Americas in 2015."

"Staging this championship at Ryerson sets the scene for exciting competition and unprecedented opportunity for Ontario in 2015," said Kathleen Wynne, Premier of Ontario. "Our government's bid to host the 2015 Games will help create jobs, grow the economy and showcase Ontario on the world stage."

Canada has an impressive legacy in wheelchair basketball, cemented with its first Paralympic gold medal in the women's event in Barcelona in 1992. Since then, Canadian wheelchair basketball teams have won eight Paralympic medals, including six gold.

At the 2011 Parapan Am Games, Canada took home a silver medal in the women's event and a bronze in the men's. A podium finish at the Worlds would be a record-setting seventh straight for the Canadian women's team.

"Competing at home in both the Worlds and at the TORONTO 2015 Parapan Am Games in front of our family, friends and fans will be amazing," said Tracey Ferguson, a three-time Paralympic gold medallist who grew up in Toronto. "To get two major championships in a row on home soil is unprecedented. I've never had this chance before and I'm super excited. Plus, I know our fans will come out and support us!"

There will not be a better venue to catch the action as Canada competes to continue its success both now at the Worlds and in 2015, with every seat at Ryerson Athletic Centre offering a great view.

The 2014 Women's World Wheelchair Basketball Championship is one of 45-plus sport competitions TO2015 is helping bring to the region over the next 12 months, more than half of which are international in scope.

A second test event for the Games — the 2015 Canadian Interuniversity Sport Men's Basketball Final 8 Championship — will also take place at the Ryerson Athletic Centre in March 2015. It will mark the first time Toronto has hosted this championship, as well as its return to southern Ontario for the first time in more than three decades.

"Ryerson is very excited to be sharing its magnificent Athletic Centre with fans and athletes from across the Americas during the Pan Am and Parapan Games," said Sheldon Levy, president of Ryerson University. "Restoring Maple Leaf Gardens for our university, city and country has brought the opportunity to make new memories in this spectacular and historic building, and we are pleased and proud to be hosting every basketball game at these great events."

The Organizing Committee is using these 45-plus competitions to test a variety of operational areas, such as athlete transportation, accessibility, overlay, timing and scoring, field of play and volunteer services. The testing is crucial to ensure athletes can perform at their best in 2015. These test events are also a great springboard to volunteering at the Games.

For additional information on these upcoming competitions, visit TORONTO2015.org/test-events.

For more information on the 2014 Women's World Wheelchair Basketball Championship and the 2015 CIS Men's Basketball Final 8, visit 2014wheelchairbasketball.com and mattamyathleticcentre.ca/events/detail/cis-national-basketball-championships.

About TO2015

The TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015) is tasked with the responsibility of planning, managing and delivering the Games. Its mission is to ignite the spirit through a celebration of sport and culture. The TORONTO 2015 Pan American Games will take place July 10–26 and the Parapan American Games August 7–15.

The TORONTO 2015 Games are funded by the Government of Canada, the Province of Ontario, as well as other partners and sponsors. CIBC is the Lead Partner of the Games.

For more information about the Games, please visit TORONTO2015.org.

SOURCE Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games

For further information: Teddy Katz, Director, media relations and chief spokesperson, TO2015, 416.957.2117, teddy.katz@toronto2015.org