The Hamilton Bulldogs arena kerfuffle is reaching one of the lower DEFCONs, with the discovery of a confidential proposal to the city by team owner Michael Andlauer to have taxpayers build a new arena at Lime Ridge Mall, for which Andlauer would “partially offset” the costs:
No construction costs are included in proposal documents viewed by The Spectator and team owner Michael Andlauer declined through a spokesperson Monday to talk about how much he is willing to pay. Past estimates floated for a Mountain arena have been around $60 million.
That would be smaller than the 10,000-seat arena that the city council was discussing just last week to replace the city’s 17,400-seat arena. And Andlauer has upped the ante by threatening to move his team out of town if an arena isn’t completed quickly:
Team owner Michael Andlauer isn’t prepared to wait the four or five years the proposed project is expected to take.
Andlauer says if the city can’t get a new arena up and running before that, he’ll be forced to look at moving his OHL hockey team elsewhere.
“I don’t want to be put in that position, but I think timing is going to create that.”
He can certainly do that, but as the second-largest Canadian city without an NHL team, Hamilton would be well-positioned to pick up another hockey franchise if the Bulldogs left town. In fact, that’s how the city ended up with these Bulldogs in the first place, after Andlauer’s previous American Hockey League team of the same name moved to St. John’s, Newfoundland in 2015.
Also, Andlauer has threatened this before, using the same Hamilton Spectator columnist, Andrew Dreschel, as his mouthpiece. One hopes that the two-minute warning ploy wouldn’t carry as much weight anymore now that so many team owners have tried it over and over again, but nobody ever went broke gambling on the gullibility of local elected officials.