Tiger-Cats promise: Burlington stadium won’t cost taxpayers a cent

That Burlington stadium plan for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats got a boost yesterday when team officials promised that it wouldn’t cost the city anything. And how would they work that, exactly? By estimating construction costs at between $90 and $120 million, down from the $166 million price tag for a stadium in Hamilton; assuming that the Pan Am Games will still kick in $70 million (I had $60 million, but maybe somebody misreported something); adding $30 million in private “investment and capital“; getting free land from a developer who wants to build next to a stadium; and handwaving away the possibility that a $120 million cost would still leave a $20 million budget gap. (“If they need more than that, well, that‚Äôs the Ticats challenge,” said Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring.)

Burlington would still be on the hook for unspecified “infrastructure” costs, though Goldring insisted that these would be necessary with or without the stadium.

Burlington city councillors still sound pretty skeptical, but if nothing else this gives the new stadium plan some momentum (otherwise known as “headlines”) leading into the last few weeks before the Pan Am Games’ February 1 deadline. Stay tuned for more exciting plot twists!


5 comments on “Tiger-Cats promise: Burlington stadium won’t cost taxpayers a cent

  1. I think you had it right, Neil. $60M was the number Hostco was contributing for the original facility.

    So… the infrastructure improvements would be needed to leave the land vacant? I’ve never heard of massive (stadium sized) services being installed on land that would remain unused… maybe Hamilton has higher standards than every other community in North America?

    If infrastructure was built for other development, that development would pay for it (either up front or over the life of the building)… that doesn’t seem to be the case with many sports facilities these days…

    As for the shortfall (which looks like it will be $20m at the very least, maybe much more), there is a way around it. Build a cheaper stadium.

    Sure, marble walkways and golden toilets are nice, along with HD tv’s on walls no-one can see. But for a facility that will be used by it’s primary tenant about 0.5% of the time, it should be about needs, not wants.

  2. Sorry, that should have read Fed/Prov gov’ts, not Hostco.

    Having reread the article in the Post, I have to say this plan looks more and more hollow every day. Even the Alouettes, who are able to charge more for premium tickets than anyone else in the league, could not make the economics work on a 20-22k stadium. They (meaning the Feds & province paid for most of it) expanded their facility to 25k just this past year, and now claim they can turn a profit.

    Building a 22k facility for a team that regularly draws in the 24-25k range in it’s old facility doesn’t make any sense – particularly if the club has to contribute actual money to the project.

  3. $100m seems pretty cheap for a 20-25k stadium. The Red Bull Arena in New Jersey is about that size, and cost $200m – and it’s pretty much just a big circular set of aluminum bleachers with a small overhanging sun screen.

    On the subject of developments paying for their infrastructure needs, does anyone know whether this stadium would pay property taxes? I know it’s typical in Canada for private sports facilities to do so (unlike in the USA), but not sure how this would work because of all the fed/provincial involvement.

  4. The New Winnipeg Bluebomber Stadium was supposed to cost $135M and now since ground has been broken on this stadium the province of Manitoba and City of Winnipeg are on the hook for $190M.

  5. RBA had several things working against it on the cost front IMO (NY market, major remediation needs, construction delays, de$ign change$ etc). It is a better stadium than the one proposed for Hamilton as well.

    Generally in Canada, privately owned facilities pay property taxes (and heavy ones. The Bell Centre in Mtl had a tax bill of $11M annually when the Molson family owned it in the late 90’s. I believe ‘adjustments’ have since been made, but do not know the nature of these), while publicly owned ones obviously do not. This is why the recent spate of stadium projects have all included the provision that the facility would be publicly owned (even if partially privately funded). Generally, any operating profit goes to the club that controls the facility.

    In that respect, Neil, I don’t think we are much different from America, are we?

    “You pay for it, build it to my specs, then I operate it & take all revenues from it. Oh, and you get bills for upgrades or deficiencies, whenever I deem them necessary”.

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