Special Report: Pan Am

Toward a Compromise on Pan Am Stadium

If the facilitator brings enough creativity and urban sensibility to the table, he may be able to persuade the Ticats that their best interest lies in embracing the logic of urban investment and making it work for them.

By Ryan McGreal
Published May 21, 2010

It will be interesting to see whether and how the facilitator the City and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats selected can bring together a party that has already finalized a stadium location after a two-year process and a tenant that suddenly announced at the laste minute that the location is unacceptable.

The conflict comes down to competing interests, and understanding those interests can help us to sketch out a solution that will satisfy both sides.

First of all, stadium economics has been studied to death south of the border, and the conclusions are inescapable:

A stadium is not going to produce net revenue for the city regardless of where we put it; but a compact downtown location integrated into its surroundings can pay for itself by catalyzing related business development.

The city loses money on the stadium itself but gains money in new tax assessment on neighbouring businesses that capitalize on the crowds of people coming down for events. It becomes more or less possible to break even.

Making it really easy to drive and park in front of the stadium is a big hindrance to this. Car-based travel in the city makes it harder to detour into other destinations, and the parking itself displaces potential complements.

A stadium nestled into an attractive, walkable neighbourhood with good transit connectivity encourages the kind of ambulatory travel that supports street level commercial business.

On the other hand, a suburban, highway accessible stadium surrounded by parking is inevitably an economic black hole, a self-contained singularity that holds its patrons hostage for concessions and generates exactly zero third party investment. The benefit to the team is that patrons have no choice but to spend their money inside the stadium - there's nowhere else to go.

So a suburban stadium is better for the sports franchise but worse for everyone else; whereas a compact urban stadium is better for everyone else but means the franchise actually has to work to earn money beyond ticket sales.

Hence the conflict. The City's interest is in a location that will produce the most public good, or as Mayor Fred Eisenberger stated, "This is about what's best for the people of Hamilton - today and into the future."

On the other hand, the Ticats' interest is solely in maximizing their own profitability, or as team owner Bob Young put it, "The location should be a secondary consideration to the business arrangements."

In today's Spectator (I can't find the link online), columnist Andrew Dreschel concluded about facilitator Michael Fenn:

It's not clear if Fenn knows the football business, but there's no doubt he understands plenty about city building. Eisenberger must be thinking that if this were a football game, he just scored a touchdown. [Andrew Dreschel, "Finding Fenn: The story behind the story", The Hamilton Spectator, Friday, May 21, 2010, p. A13]

My baseline guess is that Fenn will end up bringing the City and the Ticats together on the West Harbour site by sweetening the deal for the Ticats, i.e. getting the city to agree to a tenancy agreement that flows more public money and more stadium revenue to the team than strict fairness would suggest.

But I'm left wondering: by the time we're done giving away the farm to keep the Ticats from picking up their toys and going home (wherever that may be), will the stadium come anywhere near recovering the public money - both capital and operating - we're going to end up plowing into it?

While we're at it, will remaining a dependent ward of the state help or hinder the Ticats to get creative and figure out how to make their own business profitable?

It may be possible to sell the Ticats on an urban stadium by selling them on the idea that they could own some of the complements. Revenue is revenue, whether it comes through a concession stand in a stadium surrounded by acres of parking or through a tailgate bar across the street.

If Fenn brings enough creativity and urban sensibility to the table, he may be able to persuade the Ticats that their best interest lies in embracing the logic of urban investment and making it work for them.

Of course, if Young is just looking for a quick way to stem his admitted losses and cash out, it won't be in his interest to commit to the kind of long-term vision that would enable the Ticats and the stadium to create lasting value together.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By common sense (anonymous) | Posted May 21, 2010 at 11:19:21

^Needs more hyperbole. J/K

It would be great if Fenn can convince Young, Mitchell etc. that urban is the way to go, but with so many egos at stake I don't think he'll be able to do it without a wheel barrow full of MY money.

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By alrathbone (registered) | Posted May 21, 2010 at 12:14:17

I don't think Young is looking to cash out, but I do think he wants to stem his losses to a certain extent.

Can you really blame him for that. I just hope some sort of agreement can be reached.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 21, 2010 at 12:42:53

Can you really blame him for that.

Not at all; we're all entitled to try and make a living.

What I would object to is if he tries to do so by forcing a stadium location that helps his bottom line at the cost of a perpetual liability for the taxpayers of Hamilton.

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By convincing (anonymous) | Posted May 21, 2010 at 12:58:10

Ryan - I hope you send this to the SPEC - and they pay you for it - in the interest of rational discussion and an educated decision. Excellent piece!

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By alrathbone (registered) | Posted May 21, 2010 at 12:58:23

"Not at all; we're all entitled to try and make a living.

What I would object to is if he tries to do so by forcing a stadium location that helps his bottom line at the cost of a perpetual liability for the taxpayers of Hamilton."

Maybe i'm just being picky, but it was the way you accredited his concern to cashing out, that made him sound like he just wanted to make a quick buck.

I'm not a mind reader, but I think Bob Young genuinely wants to keep the TiCats running in Hamilton as long as its feasible. In my humble opinion, I think most people realize that most pro-sports operates to a certain extent, as more of a gift to the public (and a nice ego boost to the owner), than an income generating business. I would compare it to the various events thrown by Roman politicians and other prominent figures to boost their popularity but considering David Braley's ascension to the Senate, it might be a little too true.

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By Movit (anonymous) | Posted May 21, 2010 at 13:08:48

It's a pity this debate has come to a standoff between urban and surburban when there are good sites close to transportation routes at Hamilton's core. I see nothing creative about avoiding those benefits to displace area residents in order to encourange peripheral commercial development in their neighbourhoods. In fact, this notion of filtering sports fans through residential districts to turn them into commerical districts simply highlights the main problem with the west harbour location.

Embracing the urban lifestyle means having more people living in the city centre. The west harbour is an ideal location for residential development. Waterfront parks have already encouraged people to invest in housing in that area, and this should be built upon. It is a wonderful location, close to the harbour, James N., Jackson Sq., municipal services, Copps Colliseum, AGH etc. without forcing people to live with numerous others who use those facilities.


Adding a facility that repeatedly floates tens of thousands of temporary visitors into a residential neighbourhood harkens back to the era of suburban growth, when people lived on the city's perimeter and came downtown to access services, then withdraw again. This is a plan that cannot survive developments in the entertainment industry. Many fans have noted the inconveniences of attendance to congested, hard-to-reach stadia and instead stay home to watch on television or other media. If the entertainment is blacked out from the media, growing numbers of fans turn to similar entertainments available from the multitude of alternative sources.

As a taxpayer who will have to pick up whatever part of the tab the TiCats fail to earn at the gate, I want Bob Young, or whoever runs whatever events there, to make money. Few entertainment or sporting enterprises survive on the strength of the die-hard fans alone. In business, fixed costs mean the difference between commercial success and failure can amount to a few hundred or a thousand discretionary attendees. The sports franchise cannot succeed by trying to force its fans through a series of hurdles to reach its arena.

Nor can the stadium serve the franchise or its host municipality in some dislocated crossroads served only by highways. The car traffic itself becomes a hurdle fans will become increasingly reluctant to struggle to overcome. Tailgage parties are a product of such efforts, and however inventive the participants, hotdogs and beer scarfed on hot or cold asphalt eventually lose their charm, when I could eat what I want in my back yard or a distant park & catch the game on media pay-per-view.

As many fans leave games early in an self-defeating effort to "beat" the traffic as linger afterwards waiting for traffic to clear. Most know traffic is a hurdle they will have to endure when deciding whether to attend in the first place. This has been the lesson of Ivor Wynne. If we want an inadequate stadium in the middle of a residential community minimally served by transportation routes, why build a new stadium at all? And look what Ivor Wynne has done for commercial development along Barton & King Streets East, the closest significant transportation transit routes.

The altnerative is to locate the stadium in a central location close to a multitude of transportation options, not just local and regional roads and highways but also local and regional transit routes. This is why Skydome (now Rogers Centre) was built close to Toronto's Union Station and Gardiner Expressway, and why Maple Leaf Gardens followed to the Air Canada Centre. These constructions may not pay for themselves, directly or indirectly, but they have been be located to generate as much return as possible.

Since the construction of Skydome Toronto's surrounding railway lands and beyond have enjoyed significant commercial AND residential condo development, but all of this, including the location of the sporting facilities themselves, has been driven by proximity to major transpotation routes and facilities so that nearby residents can enjoy their urban lifestyles while minimizing disruption caused by large entertainment venues.

Building on downtown Hamilton's immense potential as a significant centre of creative urban living begins with attracting more people to live there and enjoy its many attractions on an ongoing basis, not on pushing residents aside to attract thousands for two or three hours each week.

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By Chiefer (anonymous) | Posted May 21, 2010 at 13:42:03

"While we're at it, will remaining a dependent ward of the state help or hinder the Ticats to get creative and figure out how to make their own business profitable?"

Hamilton isn't a very good sports town, in the interests of everyone I hope Hamilton loses the stadium and the TigerCats fold (one CFL team is fine in the GTA - Hamilton area) as the Argonauts are for more important to the CFL than a team in Hamilton as Toronto is the media and business capital of Canada. Time for Hamilton to get off the CFL map and I'm saying this as a season ticket holder who loves the CFL. Bob saved our team from extinction but it's very, very clear with what he as said publicly that the west harbour location for the stadium means the end of the team unless the city gives him lock, stock and barrel the keys to the city and I doubt that Mr. Fenn can get this type of a deal done. And if he does, does the taxpayer who doesn't care about the stadium, PanAm Games or Tigers get very upset? I think so.

This is going to be interesting how it pans out. Hamilton just isn't an important city in Canada, to the CFL, NHL etc. People need to understand this. It's now a suburb of Toronto in the GTA for all intents and purposes, a bedroom community for the most part.

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By Reallynow (anonymous) | Posted May 21, 2010 at 15:18:51

"It's now a suburb of Toronto in the GTA for all intents and purposes, a bedroom community for the most part."

That's funny - when 70% of people live and work in Hamilton and the the other 30% primarily go to Burlington (only 3.5% actually go to Toronto), I would say the bedroom community argument is nonsense (http://communitystudy.ca/?page_id=311). I would say it's more the bedroom community mentality of some locals that is skewing this debate and others when it comes to urban revitalization. If you think you are a suburb, you'll expect to be on the periphery of the action and accept less - But if you think you are a city, you expect more and want to actually achieve the community's potential.

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By HyperStadia (anonymous) | Posted May 21, 2010 at 15:43:31

I can't believe that we would accept a stadium as the answer to urban development. As the writer above notes, study after study shows that stadia do not revitilize cores. At best they create a buzz of activity whenever a game is played or event staged. The community around the West Harbour is not in favour of this development and yet it seems that the looney tunes in this readership are making it a case of profit vs. "what's good for Hamilton". Well, you know...a profitable venture IS good for Hamilton as is a major sports franchise. Also what is good for the city is less acrimony and more cooperation on everyone's part....Young isn't a villain just because he wants to stop losing money and the City isn't a villain because it wants the West Harbour rehabilitated. So, Mr. Fenn...do your work and it doesn't matter to most of us if the site is eventually in the West Harbour or elsewhere in the city....if it isn't the West Harbour, get busy on plan B for its revitilization.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted May 21, 2010 at 15:45:04

"If you think you are a suburb, you'll expect to be on the periphery of the action and accept less - But if you think you are a city, you expect more and want to actually achieve the community's potential."

Another one of those great comments here on RTH. I agree 100%.

Hamilton is a city, and needs to act like one if it's going to reclaim it's share of the pie. With traffic being what it is in Toronto, and Hamilton being so close, we really should be leveraging that proximity to lure business here. I'm not talking about large warehouse businesses that need to eat up our greenfields, but marketing, technology, and other businesses which really don't need ALL their employees located in Toronto, but might need a location in Toronto to service their clients from, and can have a "home base" in Hamilton where the commercial office space is cheaper, the lifestyle is cheaper, and the traffic is better.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 21, 2010 at 15:55:19

I can't believe that we would accept a stadium as the answer to urban development.

I don't think anyone believes a stadium is "the answer to urban development"; but since we seem to be getting a stadium anyway (thanks to federal and provincial politics), we need to put it in a location where it will do the most good and the least harm.

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By HyperStadia (anonymous) | Posted May 22, 2010 at 08:39:44

^"the most good and the least harm", now there's a ringing endorsement for the West Harbour...a concrete structure does the most good? What about condos? and hotels? and shopping areas? and open spaces? Compare that vision to a concrete bunker used 10 times a year, double that if we are lucky!

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By J Morse (anonymous) | Posted May 22, 2010 at 09:17:05

Pro sports is an entertainment business whose success or failure depends on its consumption, which in Hamilton mostly comes from those with a suburban consumer mentality:

'the key to expanding the Ticats' market beyond a 45-kilometre radius is "the driveway-to-driveway experience."' from TiCats consultant Mullin in today's Spec.. http://www.thespec.com/News/Local/article/773808

For a downtown location to be successful for the sports business, a mix including city dwellers must fill the stadium. That's why Hamilton's entertainment market cannot be compared to Toronto's at this moment.

Will downtown Hamilton eventually contain enough consumers to make the Tiger Cats pursue a doorstep-to-doorstep experience? Perhaps, once rational development has taken place, but obviously not now.

Build a flexible or temporary facility in West Harbour for the Pan-Am games. Encourage a mix of uses from a mix of users, or let it go. Allow transit to become more attractive as more city-minded people stay in or move to Hamilton. After a time, sports teams will be competing for a downtown location. Too optimistic?

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 22, 2010 at 09:27:31

Hyper Stadia - hotels, shops and condos are all part of the plan for the west harbour area. There is already a ton of open space so I'm not sure we need much more of that, although I read that Bayview Park would get a facelift to make it more usable and enjoyable.

200,000 sq ft of retail/commercial space is planned with the stadium and the city has just finished the planning process for new development at the foot of James St with a commercial village and more pedestrian connections along the water shoreline.
IF Hamilton can make this a priority and see much of this development take place in the next decade or so, we'd have a bustling waterfront that would be the envy of cities all over the place.

However, I wouldn't hold my breath. Ontarios political structure gives way too much clout to anyone who loves the status quo and wants to whine and cry anytime changes are proposed and a new vision is developed for the future (OMB is a good place to start). Sadly, Hamilton has way too many people who love the status quo and they will oppose anything that could bring us prosperity or a better economy or quality of life.

but you can't fault the city for not trying and for not developing a great comprehensive vision for the area.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 22, 2010 at 12:50:03

Anybody who thinks that Hamilton is a bedroom community of Toronto has never actually tried to commute to Toronto (or even Mississauga) from Hamilton at rush hour. Even if you take the 407, you'll still spend half your workday in your car. Even the GO is an hour fifteen to Union, and you still have to figure getting to/from the train.

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By west harbour is not "downtown" (anonymous) | Posted May 22, 2010 at 16:55:02

excellent comment movit! my thoughts exactly. i oppose a suburban stadium in principle, but also think that the west harbour is an incredibly poor choice for a "downtown" stadium." there are, fortunately and unfortunately, plenty of places the stadium could be located and enjoy much better proximity to existing transit and existing commercial areas.

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By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted May 22, 2010 at 17:26:07

If Jason thinks a bustling waterfront with stadium is the way to go, and he has the money to make it happen, I say good luck. But if he is looking for my money to make it work I say take a hike.

It has nothing to do with loving the status quo. Entertainment must follow wealth creation not the other way around. I'm far more interested in Robert D's ideas of how to create that wealth.

Ryan: Thanks for a good article that filled in some holes in my understanding - but i voted down your last comment as a protest against the 'momentum' idea that we just have to go along with senior gummerments throwing our money around like the drunken spendthrifts that they are. Taxpayers only have one pocket. Either the stadium is a good idea or not. I say no.

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By Jason (registered) | Posted May 22, 2010 at 17:56:43

Bobinnes, your point is well taken and I'm sure many folks agree with you, but the stadium has already been decided as a part of the PanAm games.
The discussion now needs to revolve around the best site for it, not whether it should be built at all. It's going to be built somewhere.

Comment edited by Jason on 2010-05-22 16:57:19

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By Abe Rupt (anonymous) | Posted May 22, 2010 at 18:12:57

good point jason. a stadium will be built, BUT it doesn't have to include the ticats. if it doesn't include the ticats then, if i am not mistaken, the city need not bankrupt the future fund to build the extra capacity for the football club. and with a projected $7 million loss each year the ticats could put a heck of a lot into refurbishing ivor wynne. or better yet, as tenants they could just expect the city to renovate an aging stadium. there are lots of options on the table still.

but i think we all know what will end up happening...

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By alrathbone (registered) | Posted May 22, 2010 at 18:18:51

"Taxpayers only have one pocket. Either the stadium is a good idea or not. I say no."

Yes and Hamilton wants our share of the money from the senior governments back. If they offer it, I don't think we shouldn't take it.

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By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted May 22, 2010 at 18:38:16

Jason, Abe: Decisions may have been made, but until the shovels dig, decisions can be unmade. Elections are coming sooner than shovels. I suspect sentiment favours your side but just suppose for a moment that various people ran on a platform to pull Hamilton out of the games/ no stadium. Suppose further those persons won by enough majority so as to control council. 'Nuff said?

I'm hoping against all odds that such folks crawl out of their caves and put their names on the ballot so I and others can vote for them. Please Hamiltonians, come to your senses before Debt Armageddon (aka Greece) buries all such grandiose plans in unpleasant consequences.

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By Abe Rupt (anonymous) | Posted May 22, 2010 at 18:45:15

i think we are a little ways away from ending up like greece, bob, but nice overblown election hyperbole anyway.

a stadium WILL be built somewhere in the gta for the pan am games, with federal and provincial money. local politicians would be a little silly to turn down, "our share of the money." and i don't think our little problems with location will convince the powers that be to back out of hosting the pan am games in the gta.

the money the city is spending, i believe, is for the added capacity for the ticats, is it not?

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By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted May 22, 2010 at 19:46:05

Abe, its only by definition we are not yet where Greece is. Dirty oil may even save us from that conflagration, but why play with fire in a dry forest? Your assurance gives me no comfort, sounding a little snug-in-smug. Give it time.

Given prospects for ongoing losses, I am quite happy to let other better-off communities (Burlington, Markham, Oakville) host the games/Ticats since they can better afford it, having exceeded us in wealth generation. So yes, I suppose the games will continue, but with Ontario in debt almost 1/4 Trillion and fed debt at about 1/2 Trillion, the debt crisis spreading, Ontario election next year, I think the future is more open than you assert. Your mindset seems bureaucratish in its desire to spend 'the budget' before the punch bowl is taken away. I oppose this mindset.

The future will not be decided by you, me, politicians or voters. It will be decided by bondholders. They are getting restive. Ask them or ask your children/grandchildren if we spent their money wisely.

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted May 23, 2010 at 03:41:51

BobInnes

There is no debt crisis. There is debt, but it is being paid. Governments always owe money and always will.

Suggesting that we should forgo government funding for a stadium because we supposedly can't afford it is just nonsense. What we can't afford is to continually pour money into Ivor Wynne. It is overdue for a major overhaul that will cost about the same as building a new stadium.

Whether we take the money from the other levels of government or not, that money will be spent. It might as well be spent here.

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By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted May 23, 2010 at 11:11:36

Bigguy, little mind. Not one fact, just a few assertions which are either wrong or variable and the usual spendthrift chatter. For fact, try googling "China debt" and you will see your first assertion obliterated. As for Ivor Wynne, if it is too expensive to repair, take it down and let the Ticats find a fat cat able to maintain the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed. We are not a fat cat like we were during / after the war. Hamilton now needs productive, tax paying improvement, not enduring sinkholes as demanded by loose-minded short-term selfish monkeys intent on their own entertainment like bigguy.

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted May 24, 2010 at 04:16:07

BobInnes

And where did you get your business or economics degree from dipshit. I got my business degree from Mac. My first degree was in Political Science from the same institution.

What does China have to do with Canada. Most Canadian debt is held internally not by China. There was a report out last fall, look it up. We are not the US. You must be watching too much American TV news.

As for Hamilton needing productive tax paying improvement I agree, but we are not going to attract taxpaying businesses to locate here if we have nothing to offer. I guess you haven't heard of the old adage " you have to spend money to make money". That applies to cities as well. Besides roads and sewers cities also build and maintain recreational facilities, that would include stadiums and arena's, for the use and entertainment of it's citizens. It's about quality of life. Companies take that into account when deciding where to locate.

It's small minded thinking like yours that has cost this city dearly over the last 40 years. Every time a proposal comes forward to improve this city, whatever it may be, people like you come out of the woodwork with the same old we can't afford it arguement. The reality is if we couldn't afford it we wouldn't be able to get the credit needed to do it. Bankers and investors aren't stupid, they are not going to lend money if they don't think it will be paid back. The city is a business and businesses borrow money to expand and make improvements. Increased revenues as a result of those improvements pay for the improvements. It's a pretty simple concept.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 24, 2010 at 08:01:42

Take out the dipshit crack and I'll upvote your comment because you are dead on.

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By adam2 (anonymous) | Posted May 24, 2010 at 11:39:04

Are Bigguy and BibInnes long lost brothers??

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By peter (anonymous) | Posted May 24, 2010 at 11:55:07

Hmmmmm and I upvoted because of the dipshit remark. I'm gonna start using that descriptor again; It's a dandy.

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By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted May 24, 2010 at 12:05:00

Well bigguy, if you have 2 degrees from Mac, you should certainly be able to think better than that. Then again, degrees rarely help in thinking, just following the program. But like many, you assume that folks without your precious degrees cannot think. Please read what Jane Jacobs has to say about those bits of paper you got - which she reduces to mere credentialism, quite appropriate, given the quality of your 'thoughts'.

While it is comforting to know that our debt is held internally, does it not occur to you that the international climate, along with the dire consequences of letting our loonie go much higher has no effect on interest rates? We are not yet at the point of issuing war bonds and until that point is reached, the downvoters here must remember that bondholders want to be assured they will be paid back in currency worth something. Ever since Trudeau virtually traded our internal controls over monetary for membership in G7/ Club of Rome, we have been and are very much subject to international financial pressures. Thank goodness some controls were maintained on banks but we shall see what the G20 meeting brings - the pressure is on Canada to cave in to globalist banksters.

Yes indeed I pay close attention to the US, but not via TV or MSM. The prospect of their much-deeper-than-reported troubles spilling over into Canada troubles me deeply, and might trouble you too, if you weren't so self absorbed in your entertainments.

As for your 'gotta spend in order to earn' mantra, your vaunted economics degree should have taught you that investments should be made in productive assets, not consumptive entertainments, which should follow, not precede wealth generation. Dubai is arguably the latest example. The oft-repeated-and therefore-believed notion that companies won't locate here without a stadium is just a notion, not a reality. If we just cleaned up what we've got, there is already plenty to offer without any need whatsoever to spend $100 million on a seldom used moneypit. This notion also ignores two other realities BigBrain forgot. It ignores the greater desirability of stable organic (internal) growth over volatile, ephemeral and demanding transplant growth. And it ignores what other communities have been able to do without having to build expensive stadia first(Kingston, Waterloo). There are other factors far far more important than mere playthings and when business people make decisions, they can sense what is economically healthy and what is not. Squandering is not healthy economics, but perhaps you fell asleep in that lecture.

Your last paragraph is stupid beyond comprehension. I would rather use my small mind to make baby but sustainable steps than to make colossal white elephants as promoted by some too-big-for-his-britches-guy who thinks that"Increased revenues as a result of those improvements pay for the improvements" Umm, this stadium is acknowleged to be a money loser not money maker. Subsidy, not revenue.

You said: "Bankers and investors aren't stupid"??!!! You fool. Who got us into the mess that still threatens to take down our economies/ currencies? Did we not have to bail out all those smart investors who got suckered into buying ABCPs. Fact is, Mr. Know-it-all-economist-with-multiple degrees, such people run in herds. Only rare individuals such as Soros and his mentor, Karl Popper are able to do otherwise,even if I abhor his/their methods. You think you are such a person? Ha! As they say in bloggerland, ROFLMAO.

Hamiltonians, listen to BigPiedPiperGuy and his ilk at your peril.

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By WRCU2 (registered) | Posted May 24, 2010 at 12:07:44

With a brand new old fountain and now four new fine horsemen in Hamilton, the action I feel is that we are slowly and steedily heading back to the future. This can be a good thing if we properly manage the surmounting paradox of moving backwards through time, while the clock is still ticking and I am running out of reasons to rhyme.

Here's one possible outcome of spinning this discussion in reverse, but beware, unwinding this thread is unweildly at first until IT becomes unbearably terse:

By BobInnes

Hamiltonians, listen to BigPiedPiperGuy and his ilk at your peril.

By peter

I upvoted because of the dipshit... It's a dandy.

By adam2

Are Bigguy and BibInnes long lost brothers??

By highwater

Take out the dipshit crack and I'll upvote your comment because you are dead on.

By bigguy1231

And where did you get your business or economics degree from dipshit.

By BobInnes

Bigguy, little mind. Not one fact, just a few assertions which are either wrong or variable and the usual spendthrift chatter.

By bigguy1231

There is no debt crisis. There is debt, but it is being paid. Governments always owe money and always will.

By BobInnes

Your assurance gives me no comfort, sounding a little snug-in-smug. Give it time.

By Abe Rupt

i think we are a little ways away from ending up like greece, bob, but nice overblown election hyperbole anyway.

By BobInne

Please Hamiltonians, come to your senses before Debt Armageddon (aka Greece) buries all such grandiose plans in unpleasant consequences.

By alrathbone

Yes and Hamilton wants our share of the money from the senior governments back.

By Abe Rupt

but i think we all know what will end up happening...

By Jason

It's going to be built somewhere.

By BobInnes

If Jason thinks a bustling waterfront with stadium is the way to go It has nothing to do with loving the status quo I say no

By Jason

but you can't fault the city for not trying and for not developing a great comprehensive vision for the area.

By J Morse

Build a flexible or temporary facility in West Harbour for the Pan-Am games.

By Ryan

we need to put it in a location where it will do the most good and the least harm.

By Robert D

Another one of those great comments here on RTH, I agree 100%. Hamilton is a city, and needs to act like one if it's going to reclaim it's share of the pie.

By HyperStadia

I can't believe that we would accept a stadium as the answer to urban development

By Reallynow

That's funny...if you think you are a city, you expect more and want to actually achieve the community's potential.

By Chiefer

This is going to be interesting how it pans out. Hamilton just isn't an important city in Canada

By Movit

Embracing the urban lifestyle means having more people living in the city centre.

By alrathbone

Maybe i'm just being picky... I'm not a mind reader, but... to boost their popularity... it might be a little too true.

By convincing

Excellent piece! in the interest of rational discussion and an educated decision. I hope you send this to the SPEC - Ryan and they pay you for it

By Ryan

Not at all; we're all entitled to try and make a living.

By alrathbone

Can you really blame him for that. I just hope some sort of agreement can be reached.

By common sense

It would be great... but with so many egos at stake I don't think he'll be able to do it without a wheel barrow full of MY money. ^Needs more hyperbole. J/K

I am not suggesting anything at all this is just a mean from all ends, Happy Victoria Day my fellow Hamiltonians and keen hyperbolic friends.

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted May 25, 2010 at 02:39:29

BobInnes "Your last paragraph is stupid beyond comprehension. I would rather use my small mind to make baby but sustainable steps than to make colossal white elephants as promoted by some too-big-for-his-britches-guy who thinks that"Increased revenues as a result of those improvements pay for the improvements" Umm, this stadium is acknowleged to be a money loser not money maker. Subsidy, not revenue."

All stadiums in this country are money losers, just as most services provided by municipalities are. Even the Rogers Centre loses money. Municipalities don't build stadiums and arena's or any other recreational facilities to make money. They are built for the use and entertainment of the citizens.

BobInnes "You said: "Bankers and investors aren't stupid"??!!! You fool. Who got us into the mess that still threatens to take down our economies/ currencies? Did we not have to bail out all those smart investors who got suckered into buying ABCPs. Fact is, Mr. Know-it-all-economist-with-multiple degrees, such people run in herds."

What crisis are we in. The Canadian economy is doing just fine. We have no banking crisis and we have no debt crisis. As witnessed by the first quarter profits of Canadian banks our financial institutions are doing very well. The reason there was a crisis in Greece is that only 30% of the population pays taxes. How can you run a country with no income comming in. The ABCP problem was caused by American bankers and ratings agencies not Canadian institutions. My god man you have got to stop watching Fox news. Most of the problems you are citing apply to the States not us.

Comment edited by bigguy1231 on 2010-05-25 01:47:58

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted May 25, 2010 at 02:46:29

Highwater"Take out the dipshit crack and I'll upvote your comment because you are dead on."

I was trying to be nice by using something less offensive than I could have used considering the tone of his posts.

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By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted May 25, 2010 at 10:27:37

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Comment edited by BobInnes on 2010-05-25 09:36:58

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted May 25, 2010 at 10:42:00

preferring instead the ostrich approach of avoiding Fox news

Haw haw, Faux News is a source of legitimate news like Rense and the National Enquirer are sources of legitimate news. If you're getting your information from Faux that just tells me to turn my BS filters up to 3X normal strength.

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By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted May 25, 2010 at 12:20:52

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By TnT (registered) | Posted May 26, 2010 at 08:53:04

There seems to be a great urban location with historical significance that would work perfectly for the panam games: Balsam Ave. It isn't too far from a bustling two way retail street with walkability: Barton.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted May 26, 2010 at 13:42:56

Taxpayers only have one pocket. Either the stadium is a good idea or not. I say no. - Bob Innes

I think many of us can agree throwing taxpayer's money at feel-good sporting events and corporate welfare sports franchises is poor fiscal practice Bob. I'll agree with you on that. But the decision has been made to enter this feel-good-sporting-event-boondoggle. Now that we are going through with this, you and I can sit here and say we should just pull the plug but we both know that isn't going to happen (don't we?) so the issue becomes how do we benefit the most (or suffer the least?) from this decision.

Arguing that it is a bad decision in the first place is a bit of a moot point now. But your point is taken.

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By woody10 (registered) | Posted May 26, 2010 at 14:07:17

Wow, started out with a great article, many good comments, major highjacking, great retorts and some comedy. What more can one ask for in an open forum.

I could comment on various parts throughout, but I won't bore you all, just know that I'm smiling at the whole package, lol.

I love RTH!

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By understated (anonymous) | Posted May 26, 2010 at 21:27:56

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By He's Rocky (anonymous) | Posted May 26, 2010 at 21:30:52

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By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted May 26, 2010 at 22:22:43

Hi Kiely. Well, no I don't accept that decisions cannot be changed, so even if its probably a done deal, the fat lady has not sung, and elections are coming. Any new incoming administration can do what Mulroney did with the helicopters, or was it subs. That's reality and to deny it is to deny what is legally possible and history itself. In the helicopter case, a penalty was payable, can someone say if there is a penalty clause here? I'm a bit worried they'll sneak one in while our back is turned, or some such poison pill. But I doubt it has got to that stage yet. Also, if memory serves, Dalton seems to have backed right out of the LRT and methinks he has been served up a dose of reality lately in that he seems to be serious about cuts and /or tax increases. But I hardly pay enough attention to know for sure.

Obviously, the downvoters are hoping folks will ignore or believe legal possibilities are not possible, and if financial conditions remain favourable, sentiment will continue to favour going ahead. I however believe that conditions can change rather suddenly in this environment and am hoping that come October, people will see reality a little more clearly and will understand that wasting this money on a non essential will only ensure Hamilton economic environment remains unfavourable. What's missing is for someone to step up to the plate with a different, more conservative/practical/financially responsible vision. Bhutani is not commenting here for some strange reason. This is his chance to alter the course of events.

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By jibba jabba (anonymous) | Posted May 26, 2010 at 23:51:32

Jabberwockies!

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By alrathbone (registered) | Posted May 27, 2010 at 02:13:50

"although 90% of people are against it and his current disapproval rating as mayor is 87%"

Link to the survey results or it didn't happen.

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By alrathbone (registered) | Posted May 27, 2010 at 02:17:14

BobInnes...

The difference here is that canceling the Pan-Am games less than 4 years before they are held would be a massive embarrassment, internationally and locally for both the province and the federal government. It is unlikely that either government will want to be the one to pull the plug.

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted May 27, 2010 at 02:49:04

BobInnes

My god your a Canadian Teabagger, an actual Canadian Teabagger. You don't get your information from MSM, aka legitimate news sources and like to be spoon fed made up garbage from the likes of Fox news. Your a lost cause. The old saying, ignorance is bliss certainly applies in your case.

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By jason (registered) | Posted May 27, 2010 at 08:26:12

People still watch Fox? And TV?

Comment edited by jason on 2010-05-27 07:26:40

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted May 27, 2010 at 09:02:14

Hi Kiely. Well, no I don't accept that decisions cannot be changed - Bob

I didn't say they couldn't Bob, sure they can, but realisticly they won't.

Any new incoming administration can do what Mulroney did with the helicopters, or was it subs. - Bob Innes

Chretien cancelled the helicopters that Mulroney's government purchased and instead of paying 5 billion for 50 desperately needed replacement helicopters we spent 500 million for nothing, ended up buying helicopters (we still haven't seen yet) for a fairly similar price, while the old Sea King helicopters continue to suck up maintenance budget like hoovers, occasionally fall out of the sky and struggle to perform the roll they were intended for.

I'm not sure if that is the best example of fiscal prudence Bob... or any prudence for that matter.

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted May 27, 2010 at 10:23:02

although 90% of people are against it and his current disapproval rating as mayor is 87% [citation needed]

Fixed!

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted May 27, 2010 at 11:33:49

@He's Rocky

No. Eisenberger is David Bowie. Look at him. Seriously, how could he be anything _but_ David Bowie?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted May 27, 2010 at 11:56:24

[citation needed]

Reminds me of the infamous Dreschel column before the 2006 municipal election:

No one has actually polled ward 1 residents, but "Greco himself thinks he's neck and neck with McHattie", and that's good enough for Dreschel, who calls this "probably a fair assessment" after acknowledging he has no information on voter preferences.

In the absence of any such data, Dreschel cites "conventional wisdom" to determine that Greco has "strength on the ground" and a "depth of support in the community".

McHattie went on to win 63% of the vote, with Greco taking a distant 33% and Fred Spencer rounding out the other 4%.

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted May 27, 2010 at 13:18:45

This is such a pet peeve of mine. In an era where so much information is at your fingertips there is no excuse for making unverifiable claims. Take 5 minutes and do a Google search, please!

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By woody10 (registered) | Posted May 27, 2010 at 15:17:08

Not only would it be an embarrassment but you can kiss goodbye anything else that might come our way from any government! We pull out we might as well pack up and leave this town because it will only continue to spiral. I think that's what BobInnes secretly wants so he can continue to talk about his small time ideas in a small time town where they might be more palatible.

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By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted May 27, 2010 at 16:13:31

Thanks Kiely for setting me straight on the helicopter deal. I'd agree that it wasn't very prudent (the poison pill didn't help), it was just an example that cancellation is a possibility. Its realisticness depends on whether things change which the buffoons here can't get through their heads.

Embarrassing? Maybe. The feds / province will just shift our portion to Burlington, Oakville, or Markham, all very thriving communities so I don't really see any international problem for Alrathbone to worry about.

Anyway, embarrassment is the kind of pain that fades quickly, leaving no permanent scars. A lot less painful than the debt burden bigidiotguy wants to impose on a whole generation of Hamiltonians, probably to enrich himself. So i agree with woody10, we "can kiss goodbye anything else that might come our way from any government!" Good riddance and they can take back all the extra welfare cases that got dumped on us along with their HST bloodsucking ideas. As for spiraling, we shall see which way it spirals when big debts become big taxes.

TeaBagger? Why yes. Sounds good. Teabagger Bob. A nice new moniker. Thanks bigguy - at least you're useful for something. And I sure do like teaparties - just haven't found any around here. Maybe I'll try going to the G20 party so i can sample some of that snakeoil medicine bigguy is excited about. Anyone interested?

Comment edited by BobInnes on 2010-05-27 15:27:15

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted May 28, 2010 at 12:57:25

Maybe I'll try going to the G20 party so i can sample some of that snakeoil medicine bigguy is excited about. Anyone interested? - Bob Innes

Don't forget your earplugs Bob!

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By hshields (registered) - website | Posted May 28, 2010 at 16:40:46

Wow, amazing response to this story. What is tells me first off is that Hamilton is passionate about the Ti-Cats so that should bode well for ticket sales for the next few years regardless of where (in Hamilton!) the team plays.

Here are my observations on this issue.

  1. The Ti-Cats are a profit seeking business. The current business deal isn't maximizing profits for the Ti-Cats. The football club is a tenant in the building that the City owns. As such, they do not have profit generating ability for naming rights, parking concessions, food concessions etc.. All of this has to be worked out with the City - if at all. Second, the location of the Stadium is not by heavy viewership areas like the QEW which means the Ti-Cats can't flip some extra revenue for advertising space. Of course, this also pre-supposes they could charge for advertising with city-owned land.

  2. Nope, the current business model doesn't maximize profits for the Ti-Cats but, with all the free money (well for the Ti-Cats at least, not us taxpayers), why make a big fuss early in the game? Wait until it becomes pollitically embarrassing and the "train has left the station" to start pulling the strings of influence. As I recall, I haven't heard, publically, the Ti-Cats grumble about the selection process until very, very late into the game. Sure, there are Spec articles about keeping it quiet but, to what end? The end is to keep it quiet, even if you had doubts, until government has committed to funding. If I was a tactician, this is the exact moment I would strike out to start leveraging to change the business model once government is fully exposed and vulnerable.

  3. The Ti-Cats aren't anti-urban or anti-Hamilton. They simply want to tweak a business plan that maximizes their profit-making ability. This means a few things if the City is adamant about staying in the West Harbour locale:

a) Naming Rights - Ti-Cats will want to lease (at a sweetheart rate) the rights to name the stadium and then flip it for a profit.

b) Advertising Space - the Ti-Cats will want some space (on City space near the QEW) to either advertise the Ti-Cats or rent out to other businesses for a profit.

c) Revenue Sharing on spin-offs - the Ti-Cats will want a cut of the concession action, parking action, tail-gate party action if they move downtown. This may mean a wide array of creative things from a cut of special transit fares to the event and back, special consideration in tax assessments, special consideration in revenue from commerical sales related to Ti-Cat events etc...

d) Expansion, upgrades, on-going costs - the Ti-Cats will want the City or Province to play a bigger role in being responsible for the financial care of the site they will use. This may mean Governments at all levels will pay more for upgrades, pay more for transit to make it attractive, pay more for urban renewal in the area, pay more for operating costs of the club.

  1. The Ti-Cats really have nothing to loose. It isn't their money that has already been committed to buidling a Pan-Am stadium. It isn't their political careers that are being tested in municipal and provincial elections in 2010 and 2011. Why not play hard ball and shake down the politicans to change a deal mid-stream when there is no downside and all upside.

I feel for Council that they couldn't anticipate this business move by the Ti-Cats and field some much stronger wording to put the Ti-Cats back in their place. Now they are in a position to let the ref call the play and you know what happens when you let video replay decide the outcome - you don't always get what you want.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted May 28, 2010 at 17:21:22

What is tells me first off is that Hamilton is passionate about the Ti-Cats so that should bode well for ticket sales for the next few years regardless of where (in Hamilton!) the team plays.

Er, no. This is one Ticat fan (who until now has been raising 3 future Ticat fans) who will never support them again if they are responsible for moving the stadium from an urban location to some God-forsaken location out by a highway or in the middle of an industrial area. And no, I'm not just posturing. I have no desire to fight highway traffic, park in the middle of some God-forsaken asphalt sea, and have to fight highway traffic again if I want to go out for a beer after a game. What a depressing entertainment experience that would be. I can't imagine that appealing to anyone but a few old suburbanites who don't know any different. I can't see that type of experience appealing to the next generation of young professionals who the Ticats would be courting if they were wise.

This is why I can't help thinking that Bob Young isn't interested in the long term success of the team, but is only after an asset that will look good in the short term so he can sell. Seriously, who in this day and age could possibly think that a suburban stadium is a good long term bet?

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By woody10 (registered) | Posted May 29, 2010 at 01:26:44

I'm with you highwater, I won't be going anymore either if they do manage to change the location (unless it's even closer to downtown which is virtually impossible). Oh, and BobInnes, do you honestly think the so called welfare dump on Hamilton will decrease?? If anything, if this town goes for a bigger S*#t, they will pile even more halfway houses and welfare cases on us. The foolishness is astounding.

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By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted May 29, 2010 at 15:05:24

woody10, you think a stadium and a bunch of restaurants will actually stop the Hamilton slide/ welfare dump? You think we are sliding because we don't have these things? If we accept that welfare dumping is caused by low cost of living which comes from relative low cost of housing, then tell me exactly how a new stadium improves that. My logic goes something like this:

stadium > debt >taxes > spiral starts by depressing effect on RE pricing > higher tax % > incentives die > reduced development > reduced tax assessment > reduced revenues > inability to fund productive activity > continued loss of businesses > lower employment > higher welfare > go back to beginning of spiral. There is an economic term for this, maybe our pedigreed bigguy can remind us what it is.

Thanks hshields for an excellent analysis, even if it is a bit depressing.

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By woody10 (registered) | Posted May 30, 2010 at 00:45:16

BobInnes, I'll take your comment as I learned the use of punctuation marks in grade 1: The ">" sign is a greater than, as in 2>1 (2 is greater than 1), now try and follow me, you statement actually puts the stadium in the greatest position of all your mini references. The greatest thing! So although I don't agree that the stadium is the determining factor in the revitalization of the city, as your little chart shows, lol. I do believe it will be one of the contributing factors in possibly turning this city around and finally giving others a reason to invest here and push out the old guard and naysayers, such as yourself, and move into a brighter future. Call me what you wish but that is my hope, and a major investment of this magnitude, in this city, is un-heard of these days and everyone should embrace it and help make it happen. Open your eyes and get off the soapbox, put your energy into making things work instead of trying to cut us off at the knees. I think I said frustrating earlier, hmmm, very!

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By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted May 31, 2010 at 00:43:11

Wooden, stadia will not make things work and the debt (= taxes) will undo any benefit you hope to achieve. I just wish you would do these grand ideas with your own money instead of mine. Then we would see if you really believed all the crap you spew.

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By woody10 (registered) | Posted June 05, 2010 at 11:04:18

Lol, I'm assuming the downvotes were for my poor comedic response in the first half of my post. Just trying to add a little levity, I appologize.

I think Bob, that it is my money (and everyone elses) that they are using, and I still believe the so-called crap I'm spewing. The betterment of the people as a whole, is this not a nice thing?? Think of the excitement Ivor Wynne has brought this city over the years, the thousnads upon thousands who have used it in one way or another. Wouldn't it be nice to have another lasting, positive, legacy?

And please don't call me Wooden, it hurts my feelings.

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