PANAMANIA Hits Toronto - What can Event Planners Learn #TO2015

Pan Am Games 2015The opening ceremonies for the Pan American Games (officially the XVII Pan American Games), the world’s third-largest international multi-sport games, is all set for July 10th. It's the largest sports tourism event in Toronto's history. With athletes from 41 in countries in North America, South America, Latin America, and the Caribbean arriving in Toronto this week, enthusiasm for the games is accelerating.

The Pan-Am Games, with sporting and athletic events ranging from track and field and cycling to equestrian and golf, will continue until July 26th. The Parapan American Games will run from August 7 - 15, 2015.

800,000 of the 1.2 million available tickets have been sold so there is still time to surprise your group with an impromptu trip to Toronto.

Today, I'll take a peek behind the scenes and look at the steps that Toronto has taken to prepare for the games. There are important takeaways for event planners in terms of ensuring that events integrate smoothly with the local community.

  1. Many steps to reduce congestion and traffic snarls have been taken.
    • athletic competitions will spread across the city and even beyond the Greater Toronto Area) GTA including:
      - track and field events at the CIBC Pan Am/Parapan Am Athletics Stadium at York University in the northwest corner of the city
      - the Canadian Tennis Centre at York University
      - Ontario Place West Channel (Lake Ontario) for water-skiing, triathlon, road cycling and open water swimming
      - equestrian events including show jumping, dressage and eventing northwest of the GTA in Caledon at the OLG Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park
      - Angus Glen, northeast of Toronto, will be the venue for golf
    • High Occupancy Vehicle lanes (HOV) on the Don Valley Parkway and  Highway 400 have temporarily been extended to downtown and the minimum vehicle occupancy has temporarily been increased from 2 - 3
    • GTA residents have been asked to reduce travel to and from the downtown core during rush hour
    • A guide called Keep Your Business Moving Creating a Games Travel Plan has been issued for businesses in the GTA. Measures like carpooling, tele-commuting and flexibility in working hours have been suggested
    • Coordinate your arrangements and travel plans with local transit and traffic authorities.
    • Factor in the impact on the local community when formulating plans for group events.
    • Avoid moving groups into and from high traffic areas during rush hour.
    • Avoid areas where there is heavy construction.
    • We've said it before, stay near where you intend to play to ensure group comfort.
  2. There have been infrastructure improvements:
    • In early June, a railway linking Toronto's Pearson International Airport and Union Station began operating. Union station is the downtown hub where VIA Rail (the national railway), the Union Station subway station operated by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), and suburban and regional Go bus and Go train service intersect
    • Extensive improvements have been made to Union Station subway system
    • To house 10,000 athletes, coaches and team officials, the 80-acre CIBC Pan Am/ Parapan Am Athletes' Village has been constructed in the West Donlands near The Distillery District. (It's accessible and provide a barrier-free.) After the games, the village will be a mix of condos and affordable housing. A 500 bed residence for George Brown College is an integral part of the complex.
    • If builds are required for your event, try to find a way to add value by creating permanent legacy infrastructure. Sometimes this can be done in coordination with local agencies without exploding your budget.
  3. An extensive media campaign has been promoting the games and also prepared local residents for the games.
    • Some TTC streetcars and "rocket" subway cars have been "wrapped" with Pan-Am Games designs.
    • The $5 million INVADE commercials are an example, The YouTube version has received 3,593,297 hits.

      Takeaway: The more you keep the local community informed, the smoother your event is likely to go.

For more event planning lessons from major international sporting events, also consult Olympics Openings: Event Planning Lessons for Blockbuster Events, Impact of the Olympics on London Event Venues, and Incentive Destinations: PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics.

Pam Am Games TTC Rocket subway cars

Photo Credits: wyliepoon and aa440 (Featured Image)

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