By Gay Nagle Myers
The 2011 Pan American Games open Friday in Guadalajara, an event that is drawing thousands of visitors to watch more than 6,000 athletes from 42 nations compete, including 275 competitors from the U.S.
Guadalajara already has benefited from playing host to the games with newly paved roads, bridges, pedestrian walkways, spruced-up gardens and a new 8,500-seat stadium, built at a cost of $28 million.
The buildup included several new hotels, including the Riu Plaza, which opened in June, followed by the Westin in September. The city has 22,000 hotel rooms to house visitors.
Officials have warned residents to expect major traffic jams; many schools and universities have canceled classes during some or all of the games, which run through Oct. 30. The police presence has been ramped up with more than 11,000 members of the federal and state police on hand to provide additional security.
This marks the third time that Mexico has hosted this event; it was held in Mexico City in 1955 and 1975.