Pan Am/Parapan Am Fields Officially Open at University of Toronto

Danish royal family tour venue for TORONTO 2015 Games as top international athletes prepare for America Cup in football 7-a-side

TORONTO, Sept. 19, 2014 /CNW/ - Top Canadian university field hockey players had their chance to break in the new Pan Am/Parapan Am Fields at the University of Toronto.

Now, it is the turn of international football 7-a-side players who are excited to test out the turf where their sport will make its return to the Parapan Am Games in less than 11 months.

The athletes, who are in Toronto competing for the America Cup, were joined today by His Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik and Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark who toured the facility as part of an official visit to Canada. The crown prince is a member of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Sport for All Commission.

The $9.5-million multi-purpose facility for the TORONTO 2015 Games was jointly funded by the Government of Canada and the University of Toronto.

"It's exciting to see top athletes competing at yet another finished world-class venue for the TORONTO 2015 Games," said Saäd Rafi, chief executive officer of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015), who toured the venue with the royal couple.

"Football 7-a-side is growing in popularity, especially among the soccer-mad populations of the Americas, which fields several top international teams. We're pleased to host this sport's return to the Parapan Am Games next summer in the heart of downtown Toronto."

Starting today and running until September 26, players from six teams from the Americas will battle it out on the turf at the Pan Am/Parapan Am Fields not only to win the America Cup, but also to qualify for the TORONTO 2015 Parapan Am Games and the 2015 world championships.

Football 7-a-side, which made its Paralympic debut in 1984, is played by athletes with neurological impairments and is similar to football (soccer) played by able-bodied athletes.

Brazil is the regional heavyweight in the sport and is ranked third in the world. Argentina and the United States are also in the top 10 teams in the world. Canada is currently ranked 11th.

Canada won silver in 1984 when the Paralympic Games included a wheelchair discipline for football 7-a-side. In 2007, Canada won bronze in the sport at the Parapan Am Games in Rio.

The America Cup competition is one of 40 sport test events TO2015 is helping bring to Ontario ahead of the Games. Earlier this month, the Pan Am/Parapan Am Fields hosted an Ontario University Athletics varsity field hockey league exhibition tournament.

Along with football 7-a-side, the venue will also host its sister sport, football 5-a-side, and all field hockey competitions for the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Games. Field hockey tickets, which cost $20 to $45, are now available at TORONTO2015.org/tickets. Parapan Am tickets will go on sale in spring 2015.

The multi-purpose Pan Am/Parapan Am Fields feature two international Global Class 1 water-based turf fields — a warm-up pitch and a competition pitch — the standard required by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) for all international competitions. The turf is watered for field hockey games to ensure an ideal playing surface by reducing the impact of friction on the movement of the ball.

"Ontario's first FIH-certified pitches will allow the University of Toronto to host future local and international field hockey competitions," said the Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport). "In addition, as they are multi-use fields, they will continue to serve the students and other members of the Toronto community for many years to come."

"The 2015 Games are a catalyst for bringing world-class sport infrastructure, like the Pan Am/Parapan Am Fields, to Ontario for our athletes and our communities," said Michael Coteau, Minister Responsible for the 2015 Pan/Parapan Am Games. "Accessibility has always been a priority for us and the successful start of the football 7-a-side America Cup is further proof that we're building the facilities our para-athletes deserve."

The fields are expected to be the highest quality two-turf facility for field hockey in Canada, according to Field Hockey Canada, and will double the number of these specialized water-based turf fields in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

"The Pan Am/Parapan Am Fields are another great addition to the roster of sports facilities that the Games are bringing to our city," said Councillor Mark Grimes, Pan Am Champion, City of Toronto. "The Games will leave a lasting legacy for Toronto residents and businesses through new and improved athletic facilities, and they will strengthen Toronto's global reputation and spur economic development. Toronto is proud to be the Host City for the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games."

"We are very pleased to be a partner in the redevelopment of this important legacy facility for sport and recreation in Ontario — much needed space that will be enjoyed by our students, as well as high performance athletes, for many years to come," said Ira Jacobs, Dean, Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education at the University of Toronto.

"The revitalization of the University of Toronto Back Campus Fields and their use as a competition venue for the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games provides the entire university community with an exciting opportunity to be part of the sociocultural phenomena that accompany such important international sporting events," Jacobs said.

About TO2015
The TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015) is tasked with managing and delivering the Games. It is working to bring some of the world's best athletes and artists to the Greater Golden Horseshoe region, giving Ontarians a unique chance to be part of the action, and making the region a hub for sport.

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

The TORONTO 2015 Pan American Games will take place July 10–26 and the Parapan American Games August 7–15.

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

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Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games

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