Tiger-Cats to Hamilton: We don’t want your stinking downtown stadium

The Hamilton city council stuck to its guns Tuesday night, voting 12-3 to approve the downtown West Harbour site for a stadium for the 2015 Pan Am Games and, if they choose to accept it, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Early signs are that accepting it is not going to be happening:

  • Even before the vote, Ticats owner Bob Young announced he was pulling out of stadium talks. Yesterday, Young told a Toronto sports radio station: “We think it’s a massive mistake and may end the Ticats in Hamilton. We can’t continue to lose millions of dollars a year.” He added that there’s no deal in place to move the team to Quebec City “that I’m aware of,” and said, “I’m looking forward to someone coming up with a solution for this because the way this thing is playing out is very scary for the future of Hamilton Tiger-Cat franchise.”
  • “Hamilton Tiger-Cat legend Angelo ‘King Kong’ Mosca,” according to the Toronto Sun, is hopping mad, and called the mayor “full of shit.” (Unless “sh..” stands for something else in Canada. Full of shite?) Along the same lines, the Hamilton Spectator’s reporter posted on his newspaper’s blog the night of the vote: “There will be no official response from Ticats tonight on council vote. I’d publish the unofficial reaction but this blog is still affiliated with a family newspaper.”
  • CFL commissioner Mark Cohon, unsurprisingly, has backed Young in the dispute, though rather than rattling the move threat saber as some U.S. commissioners are fond of doing, he seems to be angling for coming up with a new stadium plan that will make everybody happy: “We’re talking about a 141 years of history with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. This is not going to be resolved in one or two days. We need to step back and understand that there are a lot more things that have to take place in the coming weeks and months.”
  • Mayor Fred Eisenberger seemed to leave the door open to coming up with a new plan, calling the vote “bittersweet,” and saying, “I don’t think it is a victory until we have a stadium where we can get the Tiger-Cats to play … as well. … We’ll do our best to encourage them to come back to the table and talk about how we can make it work.”

Add in that Hamilton might not even get to host part of the Pan Am Games even with a West Harbour stadium, and it sounds increasingly like everyone’s going to retreat to their corners and figure out how to start discussions from scratch a couple of months down the road. Not that that’s going to stop the scare headlines in the meantime.

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9 comments on “Tiger-Cats to Hamilton: We don’t want your stinking downtown stadium

  1. I think this is actually a case where the owner is right, the existing stadium, is really bad, even dangerous for the players due to the extremely narrow sidelines and player dugouts! The team wants to build on open land beside a highway interchange primarily for visibility and access.
    And, the downtown site for a new stadium is really unrealistic, with limited opportunity for parking and expansion, including not being big enough to host Grey Cup (Grey Cups are big moneymakers for city and team)
    Fixing the issues at the downtown site (including building highways and transit lines) would fall completely on the taxpayers, and it still would be too small a stadium,…

  2. @pcjohnson
    Well, I’ve been in a lot a lot of stadiums and Ivor Wynne certainly is showing it’s age, but, for me, it is by far the best stadium for the average football fan to watch a game (with Regina a close second). The narrow sidelines have been a hallmark of the structure since it was built in 1930, but it is what makes this stadium so electric for fans and intimidating for visiting teams. The players can hear every taunt and cheer and often verbally attempt to fight back — it’s priceless to witness in this day and age. I also love paying to park on people’s crisp green lawns. Although I don’t live in Hamilton, I’ll be very sad to see this stadium close and be replaced by some soulless oval with a track, corporate boxes and cushioned seats (wherever it ends up).

  3. Just to give a bit of context, CFL teams are not like NFL teams in terms of their franchise value, revenue, player salaries, etc. We are talking about ALOT less money. There are 8 teams, 3 of which are run by community foundations, another two of which are owned by one man.

    The salary cap for player salaries is $4.2M and the Canadian dollar is at about par with the US. League minimum salary is about $45,000. Quarterbacks are the highest paid, usually in the $200s.

    Now that’s not to say that the tactics are not the same, with the goal to extract public money. The Tiger-Cats expressed their dislike of this site very late in the game and when a Facilitator tried to bridge the gap between the team and the City, he came up with a greenfield site unacceptable to the City, and more costly than the City’s preferred site. For the team it offered the ‘driveway to driveway’ experience they say their fans need, highway access and visibility for ingress/egress and naming rights, as well as 7,000 parking spaces (really about the revenue).

    Basically, the city has the money (with Federal and Provincial contributions)to build a 15,000 seat stadium for the Pan Am Games, maybe as much as 22,500 seats. Nobody has put forth a credible plan to get it up to the needed 27-30,000 seats, the team has offered $15M in construction costs and agreed to operate the stadium for the City for 10 years for $3M per year.

    Very gratified that Neil has been following. I am a big fan of the team, but a West Harbourfront supporter. I really hope they can come to some agreement on something before they lose the funding from upper levels of government.

  4. We have to stop listening to a bunch of politicians who rubbed people the right way to get to where they are today and listen to the guy who has millions and is a very accomplished business man. Wherever he wants it it should go do to the fact he makes money and this is about chossing the best financial choice and he would be my pick to make a choice like that!!! Shut up and start listening to the money maker and not the money losers. City hall has made and continues to make some very poor choices for hamiltonians don’t let this be another!

  5. I find it hilarious that the person asking for a handout is considered the “moneymaker”. This “person we should listen to” is welcome and free to build the stadium anywhere he likes, any size he likes, as long as he pays for it.

  6. Um, Josh, the City has had to subsidize the team by giving them $1.3 million per year. In that time Hamilton has had the worst win-loss record in the league, and according to Young it is close to bankruptcy because he keeps losing millions a year. If that’s the case, how on earth is he “the money maker”? He may be an accomplished businessman in software and digital publishing, but he’s proven to be a complete and utter disaster as a CFL franchise owner.
    And like floormaster said, Young is more than welcome to build whatever type of stadium he wants, anywhere he wants to build it, so long as he pays for it. But if it’s taxpayer money, then taxpayers and their representatives get to choose how their money gets spent, not businessmen.

  7. Is it just me or does it seem like everyone that supports an east mountain location + Bob Young is completely uninformed about any actual information involving this matter? It’s ok to have an opinion, but it’s always better to have an informed opinion. This all started as a talk about how to take a zero to negative profit event like the Pan AM games and turn in into a sustainable legacy for Hamilton that will help the city for years to come, and yet some how a long the way the TiCats got involved and totally derailed the entire subject and made it about them. This is a comment I made the other day and I think it holds water:

    “I find it strange that many people have been suggesting that this is all the mayors fault and that he is being stubborn. Yet no one seems to mension that city council and a board of …governors had been making these decisions. That aside, I think the ti-cats have taken a very dubious position with Hamiltonians. They have been appealing to our sentiments by siting the long history the Ti-cats have had in Hamilton along with the amount they have been in service of the community, yet go on to take the stance that a decision that is not favoured by them will result in the team up and leaving. In my mind this makes their emotional appeal moot, fore should the Ti-cat’s bond to this city be a true one, they would stand by our city and make the best of any decision made. Hamilton may love the Tiger Cats, but do the Tiger Cats love Hamilton back? When you love some one, you need to stick by them through thick and thin, you need to be loyal and true. I do not think a sports team can do this, for as much as sports teams have sway over our emotions and passions, in the end they are a business. Their business is emotions and passions, they want you to cheer and love them, but history has shown that the bottom line says “if these fans over here will make us more money, then that is where we are going.” (remember Winnipeg in 95: http://www.curtiswalker.com/jets/savejets.aspx)

    Sports have a great deal of influence over their fans, but in the end as much as we may be fanatical about the teams in our city’s, these organizations are business’s owned by sole individuals. Teams are a means to make money by playing to sentiments, teams interests and motivations are profits not people.

    At the end of the day, Hamilton is our home and a home is a sacred place, A home is love made manifest, A home is the foundation for family’s to grow. If the Tiger Cats want to move out because the living room drapes no longer fit their tastes, maybe they were not part of our family to begin with…”

  8. I think you’re right Lorenzo. How could supporters have any facts about the viability of the East Harbour when their demi-god Bob Young hasn’t provided any to them or anyone else? The city came up with reports explaining parking issues, zoning and residential issues, and after all was said and done (including what amounts to an extortion attempt)still is willing to sit down at the table with Young. I still see anti-West Harbour people bringing up Confederation Park as an option, when Chad Collins, councilor for that ward, explained that paving over parkland for parking was not an option. The reality is that West Harbour is the site chosen and Bob Young and his losing (money and games) team can choose to play there, or not. If not, they will have broken the tradition of the Ti-Cats in Hamilton, not our city.

  9. Legal Implications in the Rights to the Brand Name Hamilton “TIGER CATS” and the transference of the CFL Football Franchise By the CFL and present Caretaker from the City of Hamilton. The Issues are many and our intent is to understand…protect … and resolve…

    1. The people of the community of Hamilton have a deep-seeded emotional attachment to the Brand Name and a massive financial investment in keeping the franchise in operation over the past 2 decades.

    2. The Team remains insolvent.

    3. The need for a new re-packaging of the operation of the “TIGER CATS” franchise in order to make it self-sustainable has created a major rift between the two Caretakers of the franchise. The people of the City of Hamilton and the private corporate entity owned by Mr. Bob Young.

    4. Mr. Bob Young has taken a stance that he can hold the people in the City of Hamilton and their respective leaders at ransom by threatening that if his to date unknown economical plan is not accepted and public funding is not provided for this plans, that he will simply, take the Brand Name “Tiger Cats” and the rights to the Football Franchise elsewhere.

    5. The CFL has also threatened the same. What are the City of Hamilton rights and implications?

    6. This matter of an open formal notice which holds to the people of the City of Hamilton at ransom. All of the Councilors, the Mayor and the people have shown a desire to keep the Brand Name “TIGER CATS and the insolvent franchise in Hamilton. We have began to examine the legal implications of this intent by the private caretaker to hold the community bound to this emotional ransom and the right to make this move.

    7. Among many questions is the financial investment by the people of Hamilton in the franchise and the caretaking it was also responsible for and therefore its legal proprietary rights.

    8. Does the City of Hamilton have the right to replace the venue where the franchise is operating, (considering that it is part of its financial contribution to the franchise and the CFL) and since the City is paying for the bulk of the new stadium.

    9. Does the City have the right to examine all its options in order to resolve its continuous financial losses in relation to the insolvency of the franchise?

    10. Does the City have the right to institute proper accounting audits of the operations of the franchise in order to protect its investments and exercise any changes in relation to a venue it agreed to provide (be it improving Ivor Wynne or brand new retractable roof stadium). Does the caretaker have the right to object to the City’s part caretaking, even though it complies transparently with all the recommendations put forth by the various studies and consultants?

    11. Was Mr. Bob Young aware of the insolvency of the franchise when he accepted the responsibility of being along with City of Hamilton the caretaker of the Tiger Cats franchise on behalf of the people of Hamilton?

    12. If the caretaker is no longer capable of sustaining the continuing insolvency of the franchise does the City have the right to introduce a plan of its own to resolve this financial dilemma?

    13. Does the caretaker have the right to exclude the “City of Hamilton” from participating in this process, and to seek out professional input into the process and finally follow the recommendations of the studies?

    14. Is it appropriate for the City of Hamilton to change its decision that are contrary to the provided recommendations and perhaps risk legal implications with other private investors, who have been affected by the current actions and held in abeyance by the ransom threats and demands of the caretaker? The City of Hamilton has responded exceptionally well in the attempt to satisfy the community desire and with one decision managed to clean up a major Brownfield problem, develop the West Harbour, satisfy the Pan Am Games requirements and provide a new venue for the Hamilton Tiger Cats franchise, an exceptional feat. The refusal of Mr. Bob Young to accept the decision by council achieved by a democratic process has stood in the way of considering other private groups presentations which address the operative financials of the franchise. The retractable roof stadium with an accepted precedent by the CFL, City, Provincial and Federal Government and the Saskatchewan Rough Riders CFL franchise is the only way to minimize the continuous losses by the Hamilton Football franchise and the City of Hamilton. This is achieved by an increased number of events unaffected by the unpredictable environment. The White Star Group and its potential participants in development, building, management and entertainment has been requesting the opportunity to participate in this new retractable stadium process and to properly present its case to council.

    15. Our proposed retractable roof stadium development should be given due consideration and assessment.

    16. If a new venue was provided by a new consortium in participation with the City, Provincial and Federal Government, perhaps the franchise and “Tiger Cat Brand” could be included under the ownership and rights by the City of Hamilton, and the financial obligations to be paid for by the total activities of the operations of the new year round retractable roof stadium.

    17. On behalf of our Ward and on behalf of the people of Hamilton, The White Star Group has begun to examine these legal implications and these ramifications. We have attempted on numerous occasions to engage on behalf of the private sector into a dialogue with the current caretaker, Mr. Bob Young, since May 31st, 2010, and even though our publicly stated financial and development contribution is substantial, Mr. Young has not responded to our request to meet and discuss the possibilities of our proposed solutions which is supported by well known developers, financiers, and consultants like Storm Cunningham.

    18. The various parties involved may all end up with no other option but to consider taking this matter into a legal arbitration process so that the issues before us can be dealt with and Mr. Bob Young can clearly define his proposed plans and objections to the City and other private sector proposed plans and the right to move the franchise.

    The White Star Group

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