Tiger-Cats: Let’s rebuild Ivor Wynne instead

Another day, another Hamilton Tiger-Cats stadium plan. Just five days after touting a free-for-taxpayers stadium in Burlington, the Ticats owner Bob Young today announced a new plan to rebuild Ivor Wynne stadium in Hamilton instead. Wrote Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina in a letter to the city council:

The Tiger Cats are prepared to sign a lengthy lease with the City to continue to play in a rebuilt stadium on the Ivor Wynne site. The old stadium was originally rejected because of the requirement for about twenty acres to include an adjacent warm-up track as required by Hostco. This configuration was not possible on the available land. When the difficulties over site selection continued to the point where the deadline was looming the Tiger Cat management put all options on the table. In our discussion yesterday afternoon I urged them to give serious consideration to rehabilitation of the old stadium, and a long-term agreement with the City as a show of faith to residents and fans. There was no hesitation by both Bob Young and Scott Mitchell in agreeing to a 20 year lease arrangement, pending details of course.

Pending details, of course. Young told a press conference this morning that building at the Ivor Wynne site could save $100 million in land and infrastructure costs, which would be convenient given that land costs have been the main holdup in any new stadium deal. Not the only holdup, though — there was about a $30 million construction funding gap as well, and neither Young nor Bratina said exactly how much a redone Ivor Wynne would cost. Nor are there any details immediately on whether the Ticats would need to relocate for renovations, though from the sound of it Young may be talking about the kind of phased reconstruction during offseasons that the Boston Red Sox used for Fenway Park.

That said, it’s at least promising that Young, instead of drawing a line in the sand, is agreeing to a scaled-down stadium project that avoids having to hit up taxpayers for additional money. Then again, he may not have had much choice: Yesterday Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring all but took his city out of the running for a Ticats, saying, “Burlington is simply not large enough and therefore does not have the financial capacity to lead on this project.” And, of course, available Pan Am Games funding is due to expire if not used by February 1. Sometimes, cities have leverage too.

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