POLITICS

Ontario pumps $74 million more into 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games

09/23/2014 11:14 EDT | Updated 11/23/2014 05:59 EST
TORONTO - Ontario's cash-strapped Liberals are pumping another $74 million into the 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games, but say they're confident they won't need to turn on the tap again.

TO2015, the organizing committee, asked for the money as it ramps up preparations for the Games next summer, which are expected to cost $2.57 billion including transportation, security and the athletes' village.

"I've asked them to really go over their books to figure out exactly what those pressures are, and they are quite confident that this is the first and last time that they'll be asking for additional money," Michael Coteau, the minister responsible for the Games, said Tuesday.

But some costs may go up, such as the $239 million earmarked for security, in light of new international threats, he said.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is calling for supporters to kill westerners, be they military or civilian, from countries involved in the battle against ISIL in northern Iraq — including Canadians.

"Obviously security levels shift constantly and I can't guarantee that security prices won't shift," Coteau said. "What I can guarantee is the operations of these Games."

The committee is expecting to bring in $25 million less than planned in sponsorship revenue. It needs $49 million for other things, including providing a live broadcast of some events, expanding the torch relay to other communities, backup ambulances for athletes and more satellite villages to reduce travel time for participants, they said.

The money will also help pay for staffing in areas where there won't be enough volunteers, expanding marketing and communications to promote the Games, security for equipment at venues and higher barricades around the athletes' village and Pan Am park.

But the committee is also expecting to save $45 million in other areas, so the overall increase will be $29 million, Coteau said. The province plans to hold back $30 million of the $1.6 billion it's spending on the Games until organizers can meet revenue targets and get "further support from other partners."

"This is our opportunity here in the province of Ontario to shine, to really showcase everything that we're proud of — our culture, our heritage — and we need to take advantage of this opportunity," Coteau said.

"So I want to make sure that we get this right and I have full confidence in TO2015 to deliver these Games."

The Liberals, who are facing a $12.5-billion deficit in the current fiscal year, have promised to curb costs as they struggle to eliminate the red ink.

It wasn't easy to ask the government for more money, said TO2015 CEO Saad Rafi. The committee has been managing risks, but they had to bite the bullet, he said.

"These are a million moving pieces — 51 sports, 10,000 athletes and officials," Rafi said. "As one pro sports team has coined a tag line quite well: this is a bloody big deal."

The federal government is pitching in $500 million for the Games, while Toronto's contribution is $86 million. Other municipalities are covering $205 million of the costs. The organizing committee expects to generate $172 million in revenue.

The Pan Am Games will run from July 7 to 26 at 31 competition venues stretching from the Niagara Region in the south to as far north as Orillia. There are also 13 training and 15 non-competition venues.

The Parapan Am Games will run from Aug. 7 to 15.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said there were 34 competition venues.