York a candidate for Pan Am track & field, says organizer

As venue complications in Hamilton drag on, York University is being examined as one of the front-runners to host track & field competitions for the 2015 Pan American Games, wrote the North York Mirror July 29.

Pan Am CEO Ian Troop held a teleconference on Thursday, July 29, when he said that while the location of track & field was “not yet set in stone,” it was looking more and more likely that a venue in Toronto would be the host.

“I think (York University) is one of a couple of very interesting locations. When we were doing the initial bid work, York wasn’t in a position to fully participate because they had the strike, but in my early days on the job they came and said that if something happens, they would want to participate more fully, therefore they are a candidate for track & field,” said Troop.

The University is already hosting Pan Am tennis at the Rexall Centre, so being able to transfer security from that venue to the Toronto Track & Field Centre on the northern edge of the campus gives York a leg up. Troop also commented that plans to construct a subway to York would add to its allure.

Convenience isn’t the only factor being taken into consideration by the Pan Am 2015 committee. There would also need to be significant alterations made to the athletic facilities, which are currently run by the City of Toronto. Right now, the indoor facilities hold 900 spectators and the outdoor track can fit a maximum of 2,500. A Pan Am venue would need to hold about six times that amount.

“From a facilities standpoint, there would have to be a significant investment in the area to be able to handle it. The existing track would probably end up being a warm-up track and we would have to put facilities in place with stadium seating to handle the Pan Am crowd,” said Troop.

A final recommendation for a venue won’t be announced by Pan Am 2015 until after its Sept. 30 board meeting.

Representatives from York University were tight-lipped about the situation.

“York University has always said that if there is a solution that we can offer up, we would be very willing to discuss what is possible. In terms of specifics, there is nothing to report here,” said Keith Marnoch, associate director of media relations at York. “We have made ourselves available for whatever might come our way. We would be happy if there was a solution that made sense with York University. I think that would be something we would enter into and look at for sure.”

  • Organizers of the 2015 Pan Am Games are searching for a Toronto stadium to host the showcase track & field events after scrapping plans to hold them in Hamilton, wrote the Toronto Star July 30.

Ian Troop, chief executive of the organizing committee, confirmed a change in location of the venue, required to hold at least 15,000 fans, in a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon.

The track events are “going to be in Toronto. We’re looking at a couple of options, finalizing some details there, but that’s probably where it’s going to end up.”

The Toronto Star’s Dave Perkins reported Thursday that Pan Am track was coming to Toronto and that York University is the leading candidate to host it.

Other options include Downsview or building a new, small stadium, he said.

York University is open to hosting the track events but there is no facility big enough, said Keith Marnoch, the University’s associate director of media relations. “We’ve consistently said that if York can be part of a solution we would be open to talking about it,” Marnoch said.

He noted that York hosts major tennis tournaments at the Rexall Centre. The main venue holds about 12,000 people.

  • “We’re interested in locating track & field closer to the actual athletes’ village, in easy proximity from mass transit, so it’s going to be in Toronto,” said Pan Am CEO Ian Troop, in the Toronto Sun July 30.

Athletics Canada, the governing body of track & field in this country, have insisted since May that they wouldn’t be happy with long commute times to the venues from the athletes’ village in the West Don Lands. “They said they’d prefer it’d be closer to Toronto, given the transportation issues and especially the complexity of track & field, shifting individual athletes back and forth,” Troop said. “They are supportive of a move into Toronto.”

It is not clear whether the Toronto track & field stadium will be newly built or use existing infrastructure, Troop said, but the committee is looking at both options.

Both the University of Toronto and York University were scouting options for a facility, but according to York spokesman Keith Marnoch, there have not been any negotiations. “But if we can help them out, we will be there to see what we can do,” he said.

Access to transit, the ability for the surrounding area to handle the facility, the stadium’s use after the games, and potential financing partners will all be key factors in the decision, Troop said.

Catalonia bans bullfighting in gesture of independence

Catalonia’s decision on Wednesday to ban bullfighting in 2012 is akin to Quebec banning hockey or California banning fireworks on the Fourth of July, wrote the National Post July 30. On the surface, the ban was about animal welfare. But more than anything, it was about Catalonia asserting its identity as distinct from greater Spain.

“A Catalan nationalist movement emerged in the 1850s,” says Adrian Shubert, a historian in York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. “The Catalans saw themselves as more sophisticated, more European, [and] more advanced economically than the rest of the country.”

And the future, to the Catalans, was to be European, and being European meant no more bullfights. Bullfighting was a symbol of Spanish backwardness, of barbarity, a tradition unbecoming a progressive people…. Goya celebrated it in paintings. Federico Lorca, the poet, embraced it with verse. Lorca was executed during the Spanish Civil War, a bloody conflict that ended with the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.

“Franco detested the Catalans,” Shubert says. “He saw them as separatists and a threat to the unity of the Fatherland.”

Smitherman wants to break city’s ‘pattern of mediocrity’

Don’t write George Smitherman off “as a downtown guy” because he sees Maple Leaf Gardens from his apartment window, wrote the City Centre Mirror July 29 in a story about November’s municipal election.

His transit system expansion plan would bring more economic opportunities to the city by knitting together its more neglected parts, wrote the Mirror.

The first half of his plan, a five-year run-up to the 2015 Pan-American Games costing the city a “relatively manageable” $465 million, would speed completion of the Spadina Subway to York University, and extend the Sheppard East Light-Rail Transit line to University of Toronto Scarborough, the Harbourfront LRT to Toronto’s Portlands and the Eglinton LRT to Weston Road.

Fine arts grad growing as an actor, celebrating diversity

“I always wanted to be an [actor]. I remember I was 11 playing in Julius Caesar at school. It was Grade 6. All I knew was I had to tell this story of a chariot race. I just felt the whole audience was with me. I wasn’t up there alone.”

Beryl Bain (BFA Spec. Hons. ’05) is talking about what drove her to become an actor, wrote the Hamilton Spectator July 30.

“At first I didn’t know what to do with my life. I mean, in high school I was this activist, interested in social causes. Well, in a way the theatre deals with those things, too. “I decided to go to York University. I was so caught up in it all. That’s the thing about acting; it becomes your whole life.”

Korea’s population targeted to be ‘most elderly’ by 2025

South Korea has a pressing “aging” problem, with scores of people entering their elderly years in the near future, wrote fastcompany.com July 29. A recent article in the Japan Times notes that South Korea’s baby boomers account for 14.6 percent of the total population. They start to turn 55 – the retirement age in many big corporations – this year.

By 2050, the median age in Korea is projected to be 57 years, according to an article written by Thomas Klassen of York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, “making it the most elderly nation in the world. In contrast, at present, Japan has the oldest median age at 43 years, while Korea’s stands at 37 years.”

MTV cans ‘After Show’

MTV Canada says it’s cancelling “The After Show” now that Jessi Cruickshank – who co-hosted the hit program with former York student Dan Levy – is moving to Los Angeles for another job opportunity, wrote The Canadian Press July 30.

“We can’t imagine doing ‘The After Show’ without both Dan and Jessi together; it just wouldn’t be the same, so we are not renewing that show,” Brad Schwartz, senior vice-president and general manager at Much MTV Group, CTV Inc., said Thursday.

The Toronto-born Levy, the son of Canadian actor Eugene Levy, studied film at York University and Ryerson University.