Women's baseball to make international multi-sport Games debut in Canada
Ajax's upgraded diamonds to host all baseball and softball competitions for TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Games
AJAX, ON, April 3, 2013 /CNW/ - The diamonds in Ajax will shine a little brighter in the summer of 2015 thanks to upgrades necessary to host the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Games.
The major capital upgrades at Ajax Pan Am Ballpark, located at the Audley Recreation Complex, are jointly funded by the Government of Canada and the Town of Ajax. The ballpark will host all baseball and softball games from July 10 to 26, including women's baseball — a first in a multi-sport Games — as well as the return of men's softball to the Pan Am sport program.
"We're proud the TORONTO 2015 Games are establishing true equity for men and women in both of these sports, which are phenomenally popular in the Americas and the Caribbean," said Ian Troop, chief executive officer of the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games Organizing Committee (TO2015).
"Ajax will welcome many of the best players and teams in the world from the 41 participating Pan American countries, as well as up to 175,000 spectators. We expect incredible fan support here in the stands."
TO2015 is turning two current soccer fields into a Games-time baseball diamond and rebuilding an adjacent diamond with new sod and clay to meet the most up-to-date International Baseball Federation (IBAF) standards.
Ajax's four "pinwheel" fields will host softball training and competitions and will also receive upgrades to meet International Softball Federation (ISF) requirements.
"Our Government is proud to support the building of the Ajax Pan Am Ballpark, a world-class baseball and softball facility where we will see men and women compete in both baseball and softball for the first time at the 2015 Pan American Games," said the Honourable Bal Gosal, Minister of State (Sport). "As a result of our Government's contribution to the Games, our talented athletes will have the opportunity to compete in state-of-the-art facilities when we take on the Americas in 2015."
"Ajax is honoured to make Pan Am Games history as the place where the first gold medal is awarded in women's baseball," said Ajax Mayor, Steve Parish. "Baseball and softball have a long history in Ajax. These renovations will help the residents of our growing town continue to excel in these sports and attract even more prestigious competitions as a legacy of the Games."
At the last Pan Am Games, the Canadian men's baseball team won its first gold medal after defeating the United States, and is currently ranked sixth in the world behind Cuba and the U.S. The Pan Am baseball tournament is considered one of the premier international baseball championships in the world. Of the top 20 men's teams globally, 11 are from Pan American countries.
The Canadian women's baseball team, which started in 2004 — the same year Canada hosted the inaugural IBAF Women's World Cup in Edmonton — is currently tied for third with Australia in world rankings.
Softball provides two more chances for the home nation to medal. For 24 years, the Canadian men's team dominated softball, winning every Pan Am gold medal ever awarded until the men's competition was dropped from the Games in 2003. On the women's side, Canada took silver in softball at the 2011 Pan Am Games, adding to their previous medal count of one gold, four silver and a bronze.
"Baseball and softball have long been part of Ontario's sport and community fabric. Come 2015, Ontario will welcome some of the world's finest ball players, and proudly set the stage for this watershed moment in women's baseball history, " said Michael Chan, Minister Responsible for the 2015 Pan and Parapan American Games. "The newly upgraded Ajax Pan Am Ballpark will provide world-class facilities for all levels of ball players to connect, play and build long-lasting memories."
The overall project costs for this facility are anticipated to come in at $9 million. Construction will start in the summer of 2013. This spring, TO2015 will issue a request for proposals to award the construction contract for the ballpark.
About the TORONTO 2015 Pan American/Parapan American Games
The Pan American and Parapan American Games are one of the world's largest international multi-sport events, held every four years for athletes of the 41 member nations of the Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) and 28 member nations of the Americas Paralympic Committee (APC). The Pan American Games are comprised of all Olympic Summer Games sports, as well as traditional Pan American sports, while the Parapan American Games are comprised of the majority of Paralympic Summer Games sports. The TORONTO 2015 Pan American/Parapan American Games will draw more than 10,000 athletes, coaches and team officials and feature 51 sports in municipalities across the Greater Golden Horseshoe area. The TORONTO 2015 Pan American Games will take place July 10−26 and the Parapan American Games August 7-14. For more information about the Games, please visit toronto2015.org.
SOURCE: Toronto 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games
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