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  • Expect Gangbuster Games, Says Toronto 2015 CEO


    (ATR) Toronto 2015 CEO Ian Troop tells Around the Rings venue updates, 3D visuals and an important introduction are on tap for his latest presentation to the Pan American Sports Organization.
    Ian Troop at Guadalajara 2011. (ATR)

    Troop spoke with ATR ahead of this week's PASO Executive Committee meeting and extraordinary general assembly in Kingston, Jamaica.

    Read on for his thoughts on staffing, sponsorship, Rio qualifiers and the road ahead with less than 2.5 years until the Games.

    Around the Rings: What’s the top priority for Toronto 2015 in the year ahead?

    Ian Troop: First priority continues to be moving forward on our venues. All the major new builds are under construction. We’re right on time from a schedule standpoint – under budget – but we’ve got to keep a close watch to ensure they are moving forward to be all ready for test events in 2014.

    Secondly, I think we’re driving deeper into planning the Games from an operational perspective. As we build our organization, a lot of people who are coming with Games experience are helping us to think our way through how these venues are going to work, how we’re going to feed people, how we’re going to move people in the footprint, and getting to a point where we’ve got a very good understanding of how these Games are going to operate come July 2015.

    Third, we continue to work on the business side of the Games. We’re in a good position from a sponsorship standpoint. More work needs to be done, obviously, and this will continue to be an important priority in 2013 as well.

    ATR: What about staffing? Where is Toronto 2015 now, and how will you ramp up in the year ahead?

    IT: We’re closing in on 150 people. A year from now, we’ll be a little bit above 200. Ultimately, we’ll have 400 full-time staff with us as we plan these Games and 17,000 volunteers helping us put on the Games.

    ATR: What sports have so far agreed to have Toronto 2015 be their qualifier for Rio 2016?

    IT: We’re still in a process of dialogue with the international federations. We’ve met with them twice, had very fruitful discussions and will meet them again in the new year. Guadalajara had 12 sports that were Olympic qualifiers. We’re targeting somewhere between 15 and 18 sports if all falls the right way.

    ATR: What about sponsorship? Who all is aboard, and how close is Toronto 2015 to meeting its targets?

    IT: Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce is our lead partner. They came on early along with Chevrolet, and they’re quite active in terms of working with us to build our Games brand and help drive their businesses as well.
    Maria Aragon sings Canada's national anthem during the handover segment of the closing ceremony of Guadalajara 2011. (Getty Images)

    Cisco, Chevy, The Toronto Star ... we’ve also added a web supplier, Fuse Marketing Group, which is going to design and manage our website. These are broad, multinational, very credible, very capable sponsors. We expect to have more news in the next quarter about more sponsors joining.

    We’re about 65 percent of the way towards our goal with two-and-a-half years left to run, so we’ve got time, but we also know we want to get those sponsors in place early so they can activate in advance of the Games.

    ATR: What will you be telling NOCs in Kingston that they don’t already know?

    IT: Certainly, we’ll focus on providing updates on the venues. We have very exciting 3D visuals of all our major new builds.

    Secondly, we’ll have an update on the sports side, both about the program itself and about our Athlete Advisory Council, which is a creation to make sure that Canadian athletes who just finished competition can help ensure these are athlete-centered Games that help athletes perform their best.

    We’ll have our new NOC relations person in Kingston.

    And finally, as we get deeper into operational planning, we have an opportunity to share with people more detail around what is our accreditation plan, how will visas work, what is the transportation plan, how does the Athletes’ Village look, etc.

    These are important aspects to making sure these are successful Games, so those are the places we’ll take people to. Hopefully, we’ll have a good fruitful discussion, and people will walk away both confident that we’re well on our way, and that we’re building a Games that will allow these countries’ athletes to do their very best.

    ATR: How important a chance is the PASO Assembly in October to show NOCs that Toronto is on its way to a great Pan American Games?

    Toronto sits on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. (Getty Images)
    IT: Every one of these meetings matters, and the General Assembly is even more interesting because it’s going to be home turf. It’s going to be a chance for us to show the NOCs the venues and their progress as well as Toronto itself if they haven’t seen the city before.

    It’s also an opportunity for us to sell the Games to our region. It can be powerful two ways, I think – both to inform and continue that process with our NOCs and the PASO delegates, but also one more step to bringing 2015 alive for the community and the inhabitants of the region.

    ATR: Anything else I’m forgetting to ask, or anything else you wanted to be sure to tell me?

    IT: I would say we’re well underway to putting on a gangbuster Games for our region. With two-and-a-half years to go, we’ve got work to do, but we’re in a great position that says that we just need to not take it for granted, work hard, and make sure that we’re including our NOC partners every step of the way.

    Interview conducted by Matthew Grayson.

    For general comments or questions, click here.

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