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Pan Am Games: How to experience Toronto 2015 without a ticket

07/17/2015 04:47 EDT | Updated 07/17/2016 05:59 EDT
Want to watch the Pan Am Games live in person but don't want to buy a ticket? You certainly can and it's easier than you may have anticipated.

"There are quite a few outdoor events that you can actually still see for free without a ticket," Henry Dillon, a Toronto 2015 volunteer serving as deputy venue transport manager for Ontario Place West, wrote on Reddit.

Many events are sold out but competitions such as sailing, marathon, cycling road race, wake boarding, water skiing and race walk can all be viewed free — if you know where to go.

"Lots of people turned up to the triathlon last weekend, but many didn't realise that no ticket was needed," Dillon said, adding those who buy tickets will get better views and sounds that's closer to the action.

Free to watch events by the lake

Until Friday, people can watch sailing preliminaries on Lake Ontario at no cost by finding a spot along the waterfront or Toronto Island. On Saturday and Sunday, the finals will be available for viewing for those situated on Sugar Beach, the same place to catch the medal ceremonies both days.

On Saturday, there's a ticket-only viewing area for the women's marathon, but you can also see the event from anywhere outside of the competition venue, as displayed on this map. The volunteer says there are plenty of good spots to scope out along the course. Next Saturday, the men's marathon follows the same route as the women's event.

Next week, from Monday to Thursday, catch the water skiing and wake boarding events at the Ontario West Channel. "This is my favourite event and the one that I'm most looking forward to," Dillon said.

The competitions are sold out but there's a bridge crossing Lake Shore Boulevard West south of Fort Rouille that provides a view and may be open to the public. The south side of the channel will also provide a vantage point.

The race walk will happen next Sunday around Ontario Place following a route near Exhibition GO Station. There should be plenty of spots open to the public to catch a glimpse of this long-distance discipline.

High Park, Bloor West Village

The cycling road race takes place next Saturday following a lengthy course along Lake Shore Boulevard West through High Park. The volunteer suggests watching from Ellis Park Road to catch the labour-intensive hill climb or visit the north side of Lake Shore Boulevard West south of the Better Living Centre to watch the riders cross the finish line.

"The best plan for residents of the High Park area is to stay home and watch the races from their front lawn or porches," TO2015 spokesman Teddy Katz said.

The road races are also a fantastic opportunity to visit Bloor West Village and High Park to experience the Games while grabbing a bite at one of the many great restaurants in the area. For example, Bloom Restaurant is featuring a Pan Am-inspired menu and South American musical acts to celebrate.

Outside of the city, the cycling time trial takes place next Wednesday in Milton. The event runs between Highways 401 and 407 and the start and finish line is near Derry Road and Tremaine Road. There should be plenty of places for spectators to witness the elite athletes along the route.

'We felt like we were had'

In some cases, people who are paying to watch the Games are finding their tickets didn't provide them with much of an improved view compared to those who didn't dish out cash.

At the roller speed skating event outside of St. John Paul II Catholic Secondary School, a short walk away from the Pan Am Sports Centre in Scarborough, some ticket holders saw other spectators watch the event without paying a dime by standing on the other side of the fence.

One fan wasn't impressed and voiced frustration at how this group got the same view of the event without spending money for tickets.

"The people who didn't pay got a clear view from the fence and also had some nice trees for shade," the spectator posted on Imjur. "So yeah, we felt like we were had."

CIBC Pan Am Park and Nathan Phillips Square are free and open to the public throughout the Games for those interested in watching fireworks and live performances. And don't forget about the free viewing sites where residents can catch the Games on big screens at various spots across the city.

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