Hamilton bobbled Pan Am opportunities

Opinion Sep 12, 2017 Flamborough Review

Re: Commonwealth boondoggle, Sept. 7

Last week's editorial suggests that the 2015 Pan Am Games promised much, but delivered little to the City of Hamilton, as the reason that it should not bid on the 2022 Commonwealth Games. As a citizen of the city and a former TO2015 HR Manager (during the planning stage) and Workforce Manager at the Hamilton Soccer Stadium (during the Games), I am writing to correct the editorial's portrayal of what was a magnificent and proud achievement for our country and the thousands of athletes, volunteers and staff who were a part of it.

The article states that the cycling velodrome, boxing venue, and track and field events "ran to" Toronto, as though the change of host cities was taken from an otherwise eager Hamilton city council. Readers will well recall the actual reason why venues "ran from" Hamilton: a dysfunctional city council spent over a year debating how to look a gift horse in the mouth, bitterly divided over the location of a single venue, the soccer stadium. Had we been planning the 2045 rather than the 2015 Games, council may have had time to repeat the same gong show across three other venues. But with deadlines approaching, more ambitious and unified nearby municipal councils wrested these opportunities from Hamilton's failing grasp. Mercifully, Council has new bench strength after the last election saw the mayor and many councillors removed from the field of play.

The article goes on to complain that the stadium was not sold out. While it is true that the preliminary matches between countries with small local expat communities drew small crowds, the same complaint was made at last year's World Junior Hockey Championships preliminary games. Low-attendance preliminary matches between distant nations with small diaspora communities in the host country are the norm. If we can't sell out the house for hockey in Canada, any criticism of similar soccer matches rings as hollow as the empty bowl of the Bell Centre during a Latvia-Belarus game.

Surprisingly, the editorial makes little mention of the Pan Am Games as a sporting event in its own right, which is in fact, the largest non-Olympic multi-sport Games in the world. The excitement of this event saw broadcasters triple the Games TV airtime to meet audience demand. The opportunity to be a part of the thrill allowed my colleagues to marshal the largest successful volunteer drive since the Second World War. At the Hamilton Soccer stadium, a core team of a dozen Pan Am Games staff managed security, VIP services, logistics, transportation, and venue and sport management, overseeing 800 volunteers who truly made our venue and the Games themselves a success. Citizens from all walks of life worked long hours for no compensation but the opportunity to be near this event. These included opportunities for Hamiltonians with physical and developmental disabilities. We planned for 50 per cent to drop off (the Games norm) during competition, but achieved 90 per cent retention because our fellow citizens of this city loved the Games, enjoyed their volunteer experiences, and valued amateur sport. The staff of the organizing committee are the most driven people I have ever worked with. Overtime was unbudgeted and unpaid, but the people I worked with found solutions to get the job done and put in the hours to do it, to represent our country well to the world. Hundreds of young Canadians had the opportunity to gain job skills working internships at the Games in a world-class organization. Many went on to start their career with us, and dozens were promoted into management roles within a year of graduation, having leapt from student to leader and kick-starting what have become incredible careers benefiting our country's economy and human capital.

Oscar Wilde wrote that the cynic "knows the price of everything and the value of nothing," but in the following line wrote that the sentimentalist "sees an absurd value in everything and doesn't know the market price of any single thing." We should look back on the Games neither diminishing its value nor floating aimlessly into sentimentality, setting no fiscal ceiling in pursuit of large scale events. Hamilton received much, some of which casts long concrete shadows over the East End. But more importantly to me, having been a small part of it, are the longer shadows cast into the future by people standing tall: the athletes, volunteers, and young staff who made it happen.

Paul Nicholson, Waterdown

 

Hamilton bobbled Pan Am opportunities

Opinion Sep 12, 2017 Flamborough Review

Re: Commonwealth boondoggle, Sept. 7

Last week's editorial suggests that the 2015 Pan Am Games promised much, but delivered little to the City of Hamilton, as the reason that it should not bid on the 2022 Commonwealth Games. As a citizen of the city and a former TO2015 HR Manager (during the planning stage) and Workforce Manager at the Hamilton Soccer Stadium (during the Games), I am writing to correct the editorial's portrayal of what was a magnificent and proud achievement for our country and the thousands of athletes, volunteers and staff who were a part of it.

The article states that the cycling velodrome, boxing venue, and track and field events "ran to" Toronto, as though the change of host cities was taken from an otherwise eager Hamilton city council. Readers will well recall the actual reason why venues "ran from" Hamilton: a dysfunctional city council spent over a year debating how to look a gift horse in the mouth, bitterly divided over the location of a single venue, the soccer stadium. Had we been planning the 2045 rather than the 2015 Games, council may have had time to repeat the same gong show across three other venues. But with deadlines approaching, more ambitious and unified nearby municipal councils wrested these opportunities from Hamilton's failing grasp. Mercifully, Council has new bench strength after the last election saw the mayor and many councillors removed from the field of play.

The article goes on to complain that the stadium was not sold out. While it is true that the preliminary matches between countries with small local expat communities drew small crowds, the same complaint was made at last year's World Junior Hockey Championships preliminary games. Low-attendance preliminary matches between distant nations with small diaspora communities in the host country are the norm. If we can't sell out the house for hockey in Canada, any criticism of similar soccer matches rings as hollow as the empty bowl of the Bell Centre during a Latvia-Belarus game.

Surprisingly, the editorial makes little mention of the Pan Am Games as a sporting event in its own right, which is in fact, the largest non-Olympic multi-sport Games in the world. The excitement of this event saw broadcasters triple the Games TV airtime to meet audience demand. The opportunity to be a part of the thrill allowed my colleagues to marshal the largest successful volunteer drive since the Second World War. At the Hamilton Soccer stadium, a core team of a dozen Pan Am Games staff managed security, VIP services, logistics, transportation, and venue and sport management, overseeing 800 volunteers who truly made our venue and the Games themselves a success. Citizens from all walks of life worked long hours for no compensation but the opportunity to be near this event. These included opportunities for Hamiltonians with physical and developmental disabilities. We planned for 50 per cent to drop off (the Games norm) during competition, but achieved 90 per cent retention because our fellow citizens of this city loved the Games, enjoyed their volunteer experiences, and valued amateur sport. The staff of the organizing committee are the most driven people I have ever worked with. Overtime was unbudgeted and unpaid, but the people I worked with found solutions to get the job done and put in the hours to do it, to represent our country well to the world. Hundreds of young Canadians had the opportunity to gain job skills working internships at the Games in a world-class organization. Many went on to start their career with us, and dozens were promoted into management roles within a year of graduation, having leapt from student to leader and kick-starting what have become incredible careers benefiting our country's economy and human capital.

Oscar Wilde wrote that the cynic "knows the price of everything and the value of nothing," but in the following line wrote that the sentimentalist "sees an absurd value in everything and doesn't know the market price of any single thing." We should look back on the Games neither diminishing its value nor floating aimlessly into sentimentality, setting no fiscal ceiling in pursuit of large scale events. Hamilton received much, some of which casts long concrete shadows over the East End. But more importantly to me, having been a small part of it, are the longer shadows cast into the future by people standing tall: the athletes, volunteers, and young staff who made it happen.

Paul Nicholson, Waterdown

 

Hamilton bobbled Pan Am opportunities

Opinion Sep 12, 2017 Flamborough Review

Re: Commonwealth boondoggle, Sept. 7

Last week's editorial suggests that the 2015 Pan Am Games promised much, but delivered little to the City of Hamilton, as the reason that it should not bid on the 2022 Commonwealth Games. As a citizen of the city and a former TO2015 HR Manager (during the planning stage) and Workforce Manager at the Hamilton Soccer Stadium (during the Games), I am writing to correct the editorial's portrayal of what was a magnificent and proud achievement for our country and the thousands of athletes, volunteers and staff who were a part of it.

The article states that the cycling velodrome, boxing venue, and track and field events "ran to" Toronto, as though the change of host cities was taken from an otherwise eager Hamilton city council. Readers will well recall the actual reason why venues "ran from" Hamilton: a dysfunctional city council spent over a year debating how to look a gift horse in the mouth, bitterly divided over the location of a single venue, the soccer stadium. Had we been planning the 2045 rather than the 2015 Games, council may have had time to repeat the same gong show across three other venues. But with deadlines approaching, more ambitious and unified nearby municipal councils wrested these opportunities from Hamilton's failing grasp. Mercifully, Council has new bench strength after the last election saw the mayor and many councillors removed from the field of play.

The article goes on to complain that the stadium was not sold out. While it is true that the preliminary matches between countries with small local expat communities drew small crowds, the same complaint was made at last year's World Junior Hockey Championships preliminary games. Low-attendance preliminary matches between distant nations with small diaspora communities in the host country are the norm. If we can't sell out the house for hockey in Canada, any criticism of similar soccer matches rings as hollow as the empty bowl of the Bell Centre during a Latvia-Belarus game.

Surprisingly, the editorial makes little mention of the Pan Am Games as a sporting event in its own right, which is in fact, the largest non-Olympic multi-sport Games in the world. The excitement of this event saw broadcasters triple the Games TV airtime to meet audience demand. The opportunity to be a part of the thrill allowed my colleagues to marshal the largest successful volunteer drive since the Second World War. At the Hamilton Soccer stadium, a core team of a dozen Pan Am Games staff managed security, VIP services, logistics, transportation, and venue and sport management, overseeing 800 volunteers who truly made our venue and the Games themselves a success. Citizens from all walks of life worked long hours for no compensation but the opportunity to be near this event. These included opportunities for Hamiltonians with physical and developmental disabilities. We planned for 50 per cent to drop off (the Games norm) during competition, but achieved 90 per cent retention because our fellow citizens of this city loved the Games, enjoyed their volunteer experiences, and valued amateur sport. The staff of the organizing committee are the most driven people I have ever worked with. Overtime was unbudgeted and unpaid, but the people I worked with found solutions to get the job done and put in the hours to do it, to represent our country well to the world. Hundreds of young Canadians had the opportunity to gain job skills working internships at the Games in a world-class organization. Many went on to start their career with us, and dozens were promoted into management roles within a year of graduation, having leapt from student to leader and kick-starting what have become incredible careers benefiting our country's economy and human capital.

Oscar Wilde wrote that the cynic "knows the price of everything and the value of nothing," but in the following line wrote that the sentimentalist "sees an absurd value in everything and doesn't know the market price of any single thing." We should look back on the Games neither diminishing its value nor floating aimlessly into sentimentality, setting no fiscal ceiling in pursuit of large scale events. Hamilton received much, some of which casts long concrete shadows over the East End. But more importantly to me, having been a small part of it, are the longer shadows cast into the future by people standing tall: the athletes, volunteers, and young staff who made it happen.

Paul Nicholson, Waterdown