Special Report: Pan Am

Interview with Mayor Eisenberger on MIP Stadium Site

In a telephone interview with RTH, Mayor Fred Eisenberger shared his thoughts on the McMaster Innovation Park location that has emerged recently as a possible alternative to the West Harbour.

By Ryan McGreal
Published August 30, 2010

Tomorrow, on the very day that the Pan Am HostCo is supposed to vote on Hamilton's Pan Am stadium bid, Councillors will meet at an emergency Committee of the Whole meeting to discuss a possible last-minute resolution to the impasse between the City and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who refuse to play at the West Harbour stadium location that Council reaffirmed on August 14.

In a telephone interview with RTH, Mayor Fred Eisenberger shared his thoughts on the McMaster Innovation Park location that has emerged recently as a possible alternative site. Ticat owner Bob Young wrote a letter today to the Mayor indicating that the Ticats would be interested in this site, which is located near Aberdeen Ave and Longwood Rd in southwest Hamilton.

Ryan McGreal, Raise the Hammer: How do you feel about the Aberdeen-Longwood MIP site?

Mayor Fred Eisenberger: The MIP location and its employment lands are part of a grander vision for our city. I think it's certainly not ideal that it gets changed into a location for a stadium site. Having said that, members of Council are clearly interested in some sort of resolution and would be interested in assessing the MIP and other potential sites to find a conclusion that serves both the city and the Tiger-Cats.

My lens for supporting this is still grounded on brownfield remediation, public transit connections, LRT, spillover benefits for the waterfront and downtown - the essence of why the West Harbour, in my view, is still the best site for all concerned. Tomorrow we may see that Council has a different view.

RTH: Was the MIP site studied during the site evaluation process? If so, what was the conclusion?

MFE: I think it was raised by Michael Fenn during the facilitation process. Ten or twelve sites were put forward from the Tiger-Cat perspective, and Fenn tried to find an alternate site that was doable compared to the West Harbour.

The East Mountain was put forward not as a compromise site but an alternate site that met more of the Tiger-Cat goals. Despite this, Council affirmed the West Harbour no less than seven times.

Now, clearly emotions and the potential of losing the Tiger-Cats has affected everyone. This fear is ruling the day more than long-term planning and vision.

If council should decide to go [in the direction of the MIP site] as Mayor I'll do what I need to do to ensure we don't lose the opportunity of Pan Am and the replacement of our stadium. It's less than ideal but has some elements of connection to public transit and regeneration of brownfields, though it's still being done in the wrong location if it's at MIP.

RTH: What will the city do to ensure the innovation employment growth district isn't compromised?

MFE: That's difficult for me to answer. I'm not sure if that's possible to the degree that would involve the entire vision of the MIP site. A stadium obviously compromises that, but if Council looks in that direction, we'll have to look awfully hard to see how we can fulfill the MIP vision with a stadium in the midst.

It's not devoid of opportunities, but we have to look at parking issues. There's a parking requirement for all the MIP sites, and it's time to start thinking about a collective parking strategy with McMaster, the stadium and City to free up more land for more intense development based on the MIP collective theme of research, technology, job and employment producing opportunities.

I don't have all the answers, but I'm very mindful of the issue of wanting to protect employment land. Should Council go down this path, we'll have to look awfully hard to find an opportunity to free up more land that might allow for less parking on the east side of the MIP lands and more room for actual building construction.

It might also mean moving some MIP uses downtown. This is not a plan; I'm just thinking out loud, what happens if. The city building objectives of LRT, brownfield redevelopment, and catalying other investments would be compromised unless we pull some of that into the downtown areas to house research facilities and so on.

Downtown might be a benefit that comes out of what is not necessarily a wise decision.

RTH: Is West Harbour dead?

MFE: The West Harbour is dead in the minds of many Councillors. I'm a firm supporter: I think it works for all parties concerned and still do - and I think the notion of West Harbour development is not at all dead.

From that perspective it's not a perfect scenario, but we're a lot farther advanced than we were just four months ago. Now we own the lion's share of West Harbour properties and have commitments from city to follow through on a significant development at West Harbour that will help invigorate the waterfront and downtown.

Again, it's not perfect but it's certainly far from bad.

RTH: Are any other sites still in consideration?

MFE: Nothing specific. I think the thirst is to look at other inner-city opportunities, but I can't tell you what they are right now. Staff will be directed to look at likely alternative sites - inner-city as well as MIP.

RTH: What would you say to West Harbour supporters about this change in location?

MFE: It's very disappointing that we haven't got a collective will on Council to stay with West Harbour. It's disappointing the Tiger-Cats won't go there, but at the end of the day, in the absence of the Tiger-Cats as long term tenant, we're all hearing rumblings about HostCo saying a 5,000-7,000 seat stadium with temporaries is where they'll end up. That's not a useful scenario going forward.

So there are not a lot of good options, but we're trying to make the best out of a not particularly good situation from a West Harbour perspective.

I think it's clear that a commitment all members of council should and must make, whatever happens, the West Harbour is an imminent development opportunity that we have to fulfill now in partnership with the Feds and Province, and any other public sector and private sector developers. A lot of developers have come to the table, we've made some significant gains, a number of private sector developers want to help development in Hamilton. There are varying ideas of how to do it, and that's all invigorated by this debate.

For the long term, a very significant step forward in a lot of the vision of Hamilton.

RTH: If the West Harbour is not chosen, will this affect the planned GO station on James or the LRT time line?

MFE: The Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) has highlighted a clearly identified critical mass of development that will include LRT, the West Harbour, currently empty spaces and parking lots. Moving the stadium to the MIP will have no material effect on our LRT plans, especially if we do a significant West Harbour development.

GO is still on track to put a station at Liuna on James. There's no doubt it will come. It would still be a much more interconnected scenario if the stadium went into the West Harbour, but West Harbour redevelopment in general and other critical mass developments fully justify an LRT.

We need to maintain that vision and notion that critical mass will make it go, and it's all there, identified by the CUI study - a good blueprint for how to regenerate inner cities.

RTH: Given that HostCo has rejected proposals in Burlington and Markham in the past week, what is your understanding of what HostCo requires to accept a site proposal?

MFE: It's pretty clear at this point, based on all the signals and what we're hearing, that HostCo demands a long-term, high-performance sport tenant. Translation - a professional long term tenant. While we've gotten some mixed signals through the process, there's no doubt in my mind that they'll accept a stadium with a long-term tenant.

The private sector and additional public sector money will still be necessary to get it up to 25,000 seats.

There's a possible GO connection via LRT to the MIP site. James to McMaster will have better land value uptake right off the bat. We want to connect an LRT line from GO at Liuna up James North and over to McMaster as a first step. That begins to make some sense in terms of critical mass.

We also have bus operations and that would be an opportunity. MIP is close to a bus line, unlike the East Mountain location, which is far removed from transit corridors. Main-King already has reasonable rapid transit capacity.

Ultimately LRT is the answer.

RTH: Do you think there's still time to develop this proposal for HostCo?

MFE: Yes. Time isn't measured in months but weeks - that's not ample time, but it is time to come to some conclusion. [HostCo] are prepared to give us a couple of weeks to come to terms with the Tiger-Cats.

RTH: Have you discussed this with HostCo and the Province to see if they're open to the idea?

MFE: There have been discussions on an ongoing, almost a daily basis through entire exercise, and we can expect ongoing discussions. City staff will report tomorrow what they've specifically been told by Hostco and what they're expected to do.

RTH: Is Council - or are you - willing to walk away from a stadium deal if it does not meet the city's objectives?

MFE: It's premature to say. We need to see what the whole picture looks like after the discussions. We need to look at what's on the table. If we can get the stadium in a reasonable location with West Harbour redevelopment in partnership - it's not perfect, but it could be good.

I still think the perfect scenario would be the West Harbour with development around it; but we can still do West Harbour redevelopment in a similar vein with a stadium in another location. If the plan still has benefit to the neighbourhood and the waterfront downtown, we've had some measure of success.

We need to see what the whole picture looks like in the next couple of weeks to determine if what fits the bill is going to have a longer-term objective for the city.

RTH: Given the chance to go through this process over again (as if you'd want to!), what if anything would you do differently?

I think the city has acted very honourably through the entire process. We've been fully open and transparent throughout the process, with stacks of material published and shared with the community.

Knowing that the Tiger-Cats had a problem with the site and were emphatic about it, after we were very clear about what we were prepared to talk about and brought in a facilitator, we've done everything humanly possible to understand and appreciate the Tiger-Cats' concerns, and I've done everything humanly possible to ensure the city building objectives weren't lost.

I didn't believe that based on how this unfolded - certainly a surprise to me - that we'd have any issue with who'd be performing in the stadium. Euphoria turned to shock to see that we ended up in this turmoil.

But sometimes you have to go through turmoil to get to a conclusion. Certainly no one wanted that - I certainly didn't - but we're at a point where everyone understands that Pan Am is in jeopardy potentially, and so is the football team. Now everyone realizes it's time to work on a solution.

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 Andrea (registered) | Posted August 30, 2010 at 21:31:00

Thanks Ryan, and thanks to the Mayor for his continued focus on long term planning.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted August 30, 2010 at 22:00:15

I don't care what anyone says, the mayor has been downright mayoral through this farce.

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By tripleseq (registered) | Posted August 30, 2010 at 22:04:47

Keep McMaster Innovation Park, drop the team.

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By AndreaC (anonymous) | Posted August 30, 2010 at 22:09:33

The mayor has shown leadership and vision throughout this debate, while precious few of the rest of our elected representatives have done so. I am particularly keenly disappointed in my Ward 2 alderman, who I suspect just licks his finger and sticks it into the air when trying to decide his position-of-the-day.

I really hope our mayor wins re-election as I like the direction of this city under his leadership.

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By jason (registered) | Posted August 30, 2010 at 22:13:50

He's got my vote. He's done an amazing job through this. Hamilton needs him for another 4 years to see some of these urban revitalization projects through.

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By JeffTessier (anonymous) | Posted August 30, 2010 at 22:33:58

"my Ward 2 alderman, who I suspect just licks his finger and sticks it into the air when trying to decide his position-of-the-day."

Then orders the t-shirt.

I think that throughout the past six months of this, the mayor has really clarified for many of us what he is capable of. I, like others, always had a sense that his instincts were good, that he was on what I consider to be the right side in matters of urban vitality and social health, but that only made it more frustrating to see that his leadership qualities, his mayoral skills, were somewhat in doubt. And then in the worst possible circumstances he comes through and demonstrates that those skills are in fact active and strong in him and that he can use them to advocate for the success of the principles he believes in.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted August 30, 2010 at 22:57:11

I really like that the Mayor is showing compromise while also focusing on the future of Hamilton for city building and other needed renewal projects. The key is the ability to change as change is needed and he seems to be demonstrating this and that is the mark of an excellent leader.

I don't want Hamilton to lose our historic TigerCats that have brought many fine moments to this city's cultural history and identity and I hope that a positive solution can be found that will satisfy many partners including the city and the team and many others. Again, if the MIP site is chosen, then other solutions for the development of this aspect need to follow as well, employment and research with this type of work is essential to help build a strong Hamilton without a doubt.

Comment edited by HamiltonFan on 2010-08-30 22:00:37

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By cityfan (registered) | Posted August 30, 2010 at 22:59:00

I know some people may not agree with him, but he has proven to me he has intergrity and the balls to lead this city. First that I have witnessed from ANY mayor. It's not easy to stand up for what is right sometimes. The mayor should get another four years to piss off some more doubters. City building and brownfield development was the only answer for this issue on location. The city is engaged now and hopefully we can see some future progress now in Hamilton.

Comment edited by cityfan on 2010-08-30 22:03:16

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By westandonguard (registered) | Posted August 30, 2010 at 23:06:26

This bodes well for WH redevelopment in the end. Not one Councilor can honestly stand up and say NO to remediation of WH lands, with a focus on private sector high-density development. LRT & GO being primary connectors to downtown revitalization. The waterfront is a key component to this City's new millennium transformation. It will happen. High performance sports, especially soccer and cycling (the Velodrome) can and should be the focus to keep Pan Am here with an everlasting legacy now and well into the future. Perhaps a smaller stadium, with the flexibility to expand is the way to go. Now, where does the money come to give the Ti-Cats their FREE home AND still have room for WH development?

The Mayor is correct, critical mass is absolutely the ticket. He certainly knows what he is talking about. As the Mayor states: "...the West Harbour is an imminent development opportunity that we have to fulfill now in partnership with the Feds and Province, and any other public sector and private sector developers. A lot of developers have come to the table, we've made some significant gains, a number of private sector developers want to help development in Hamilton. There are varying ideas of how to do it, and that's all invigorated by this debate."

Molinaro Group, McMaster Group, White Star and others HAVE invigorated the debate as private developers clamoring to work on projects in the WH. All good things will come of this as long as the City recognizes they need these kinds of groups to climb on board if there is any hope for downtown connection to revitalization. White Star, who own properties on both sides of the Rheem property cannot continuously be kept in abeyance by the OMB. I have read the White Star site. They are a key component to West Harbour/Ward Two future development.

I for one feel pretty good about this interview. We'll see what happens tomorrow. However, I will state that if the stadium does NOT go in WH, it will be much more costly regarding toxic soil cleanup. I hope the City is prepared for this inevitability.

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By westandonguard (registered) | Posted August 30, 2010 at 23:08:02

The Mayor is just coming into himself -- and YES, he deserves another 4 years!!!!

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted August 30, 2010 at 23:13:36

"Now, where does the money come to give the Ti-Cats their FREE home"

west, it is the CITY'S owned home to be more precise and the CITY'S home to rent out to whomever, including the TigerCats of course, that should be a win-win for the City, the TigerCats, soccer teams etc.

But I've always said to myself, I rent a house but own a home.

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted August 30, 2010 at 23:30:14

The following is a link to the City of Hamilton staff report to be presented to Hamilton city council at the Committee of the Whole meeting tomorrow: http://hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/C528CBF6...

It is somewhat disappointing that history has been rewritten in this most recent city staff report:

  1. In their "Chronology of Pan Am Reports and Milestones" (on page 5), they have omitted mention of the February 23, 2009 Committee of the Whole Meeting. That just happens to be the meeting where city council voted for the first time to spend $60 Million on the Pan Am Games as well as a preference for the west harbour stadium site. Tiger-Cat president Scott Mitchell made a presentation to city council at that meeting. He said the team needed a minimum of 22,000 seats with 26,000 to 27,000 being ideal. He did not say that the Tiger-Cats would never play at the west harbour. He did not say the Tiger-Cats required a 60 acre parking lot. Bob Young did not attend that meeting. Here is the link to the Minutes of that meeting with the summary of Mr. Mitchell's presentation on page 5.

http://hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/C528CBF6...

  1. The chronology does not mention the move of the athletics stadium from Hamilton to York University or the reasons why it happened (one of which was the Tiger-Cats' insistence on removing the track after the Pan Am Games). The loss of Athletics Canada as a possible legacy tenant was a significant milestone which weakened the city's negotiating position with the Tiger-Cats. Athletics Canada should have had a seat at the facilitation table.

So, here we are. After nineteen months of planning, city staff has succumbed to two months of bullying from the Tiger-Cats and no longer recommends the west harbour stadium site and city council will probably follow suit tomorrow. With an apparent two week extension from HostCo to firm up the stadium plans, it looks as though it will be Aberdeen and Longwood Road or nothing for Hamilton. Many questions remain. How much of the McMaster Innovation Park will be sacrificed to get this stadium constructed? Will Bob Young and Scott Mitchell finally produce some financial disclosure? Do Bob Young and Scott Mitchell still require a 60 acre parking lot and, if so, where will it be built and at whose cost? Who will pay the extra $50 Million to increase the stadium capacity from 15,000 to 25,000? Is it easier now for the Tiger-Cats to leave town if an agreement cannot be reached because the city is taking the "scaleable stadium" option off the table and the funding that would have gone with it becomes portable to another city? The saga continues.

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By westandonguard (registered) | Posted August 30, 2010 at 23:42:23

Nice find Renaissance and a good reminder. I hope this isn't a ploy from the Ti-Cats to "save face" and use this "coming back to the table" maneuver as a motion to re-open the likes of Confederation Park. What we don't know is what is scary. Lot's of dialogue and discussions going on in the backrooms and we have NOT seen the real game play yet. Transparency.... hmmm.... MIP simply does NOT work. It's worse than WH could ever possibly be as location. Tomorrow and the next 2 weeks will prove to be very revealing I'm sure.

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By tripleseq (registered) | Posted August 30, 2010 at 23:45:59

The worst thing about all of this is that the Ticat masses will tout this as a suitable 'compromise'. Only in Hamilton could an idea that benefits a single private interest and does nothing but burn up growth prospects for the city's economy be called such. Sadly, the state of affairs is as much a reflection of the voters as it is of City Council.

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By BobInnes (registered) - website | Posted August 30, 2010 at 23:58:51

Get lost PanAm. Get lost Bob Young (take TiCats to some other sugar daddy). Get lost bloodsucking developers. Take Aerotropolis with you. Hamilton needs none of these things, just some common sense.

By all means, remediate brownfields (only a fraction of the cost). Lower taxes. Increase density. Then find legit businesses who will contribute to, not drain, city coffers.

Fred is barking up the wrong tree. Bye Fred.

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By westandonguard (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 00:18:34

While I would agree with the Aerotropolis comment -- the need to attract the private sector and developers (with their money and great idea's) is key to reaching critical mass and forming hi-density projects. Fred gets it. Thank God someone does. Poor coordination between City and private groups will get us nowhere. Funds are not available (or easy to come by) under the current financing methods to achieve critical mass of residential and commercial space in downtown or the WH.

The CURRENT City Council itself (especially the current Ward 2 Councilor) has been a known stumbling block in the revitalization efforts of downtown so it should be one of the first catalyst projects. Time to VOTE in October!

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 02:22:52

While I appreciate what the mayor has to say on the subject I disagree with his assessment of the West Harbours future.

If that land was so desirable it would have been developed by now. I don't see any other catylist that could possibly revive that area like a stadium would. Lets face it, excuse the term, but the neighbourhood is a shithole and will remain so for the probably the next 20 years or more.

We have seen the city throw money at various problem areas of the downtown for the last 30 years and it has done nothing. Spending large amounts of money in the West Harbour will do nothing. Maybe instead of wasting 80 million on renovating city hall they should have built a new one at the West Harbour.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 07:02:12

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

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Comment edited by HamiltonFan on 2010-08-31 06:03:08

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By JonC (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 07:13:01

bigguy, The initial cost of remediation has been the stumbling block to any development in the area. You can thank the previous tennants for making the neighbourhood a "shithole".

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By Slipshod (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 07:25:47

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

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By FenceSitter (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 09:06:27

Comment: This bodes well for WH redevelopment in the end. Not one Councilor can honestly stand up and say NO to remediation of WH lands.

Yep, council can just says yes to remediation of WH and then move ahead like we are with Randall Reef remediation. http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/252564--randle-reef-project-inches-forward

Which will come first, the Pan-Am games of the remediation??

Did I hear LRT from James to MIP? WOW. Where is that money coming from? Maybe a little better than money spent on a big car-park and highway upgrades (EM), but seriously.

I can see it as part of a grander LRT plan, but not by itself.

What is the difference between MIP and WH?? I would think MIP is worse for accessability.

Anyway, I am going back to bed. Wake me when it is over.

Thanks for the coverage RTH.

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By FenceSitter (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 09:09:12

"What is the difference between MIP and WH?? I would think MIP is worse for accesability."

By this I am trying to say WH trumps MIP in every way.

What a choice today for our councilors.

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By Roller Derby (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 09:33:11

Fred is rolling today as we knew he would!

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By highwater (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 09:45:39

What is the difference between MIP and WH?? I would think MIP is worse for accessability.

I know. This is just about face-saving for Bob Young. If this site were actually an improvement over the WH for the cats I could maybe come to terms with it, but to lose our innovation lands just to satisfy one man's ego? It's sickening.

Anyway, I am going back to bed. Wake me when it is over.

Oh great. Way to reinforce the notion that we're all unemployed. ;)

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 09:48:45

MIP provides visibility from a highway thus ensuring monies from naming rights, and accessibility from a highway as well. Easily trumps the WH on those counts which is why Bob likes it.

Why do you insist on it's about saving face for Bob? Strange.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted August 31, 2010 at 10:08:21

The difference between MIP and WH is the expressway ramps that are about 200 feet from MIP. That's why Bob wants there.

@bigguy - spoken like somebody who hasn't visited the northwest side of the Downtown in a couple of decades.

Yes, there are a lot of nasty little holes in downtown... but real progress has been made, and continues to be made, on James and everything West and immediately North of it.

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By AndreaC (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 10:19:26

@bigguy - can you honestly say that you have visited the West Harbour area in the past 10 years? I am a professional who has lived in London, UK and San Francisco, CA ... but have owned a house in the North End for 8 years. I love the neighbourhood and see an amazing amount of revitalization happening. I would not live in a "shithole", as you so eloquently describe my community.

I boldly predict in the coming house price correctiondowntown real estate will hold its value better than suburbia. There is lots of suburban house stock but a limited amount of stock for people who want to live close to the beautiful harbour, the emerging arts scene on James N, etc.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 10:20:45

The only thing the MIP site has going for it is highway visibility. The value of naming rights is dependent on numerous factors besides highway visibility, and who says BY is entitled to the naming rights of a city-owned facility anyway? There is less parking and lane capacity leading to the highway than at WH, so the only improvement over the WH for the cats is the dubious value of highway visibility.

Given the fact that parking and accessibility are the two main reasons BY cited for opposing WH, it is difficult to fathom why he would suddenly accept reduced parking and accessibility in exchange for highway visibility, unless this is an exercise in face-saving. Either that, or he is not the clever businessman that you believe him to be, because frankly, the benefits of the MIP over the WH just don't add up.

Of course the other possibility is that he was simply lying when he claimed that he opposed WH because of parking and accessibility.

So to answer your question, I guess I insist that it's about saving face for Bob because I'd rather think of him as an egomaniac than a moron or liar.

Comment edited by highwater on 2010-08-31 09:22:01

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 10:23:55

Whatever highwater, I have no intention of engaging fully with you on this and I trust you are not offended by that.

BY is entitled to nothing other than bringing forth his wishes which can be turned down by anyone.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 10:42:07

If the Ticats agree to MIP that will tell us everything we need to know about why they opposed WH, since it's accessibility and parking are if anything even worse than WH. This is face saving (and business saving) for the Ticats as much as the city, everyone was going to lose out and there weren't exactly a bunch of cities lined up begging to build Bob a stadium.

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 10:49:05

This one quote by Mayor Fred sticks out for me, and continues to resonate as I consider MIP as a stadium location.

"Now, clearly emotions and the potential of losing the Tiger-Cats has affected everyone. This fear is ruling the day more than long-term planning and vision."

All I can think of is the tremendous positive affect a WH stadium location could have on our city's image when viewed regularly by a national TV audience. Also, exposing visitors to the single most beautiful part of our city is priceless!

Cannot the city address the access issues for a WH stadium. Things such as widening roads, further land acquistion along access routes of Bay, Hess and Queen (that would not have to be done for Pan Am, but could be done on an ongoing basis as finances allow). Building a mini or limited (and expamdable version) of the perimter road that would link the 403 to James st N. That would be good for all of WH and the downtown. In essence, it would be new entranceway to our core.

And again, as time, planning and fianances allow extend the perimter road easterly to Burlingotn as originally planned.

The mayor talks of vision. Vision requires planning for the long term, no?

In essence, what I'm trying to say is to plan for the near future to satisfy both the Tiger-Cats and HOSTCO, but in such a way that fits a longer term vision that can be implememnted after the stadium is open and the Pan Am games are done.

Again the mayor's quote of, ""Now, clearly emotions and the potential of losing the Tiger-Cats has affected everyone. This fear is ruling the day more than long-term planning and vision.", has me worried that council might be pushed into being too short sighted here.

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By woody10 (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 11:15:54

As a WH supporter I must admit i don't mind the MIP compromise as long as WH is developed as well or if a land swap was included(mac to WH). I was planning on taking the LRT to games and it seems closer at MIP than WH so I can be selfish here and say I like that aspect. Also Westdale, Locke St. and Hess stand to gain by MIP as well since all are walkable(ish). Maybe also a catalyst for Dundurn redevelopment?? If the Velodrome still goes to WH and the sites are close to the same land area, this would allow some on site parking as well. Just some thoughts.

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 11:18:18

Jon C,

I am well aware of the problems regarding contamination and the remediation required. My point is, if that area was so desirable then the developers would pay the cost of remediation just for the oportunity to build there.

Pxtl,

I am down in that area all the time, just because you don't agree with my assessment of the area don't assume that I don't go into the area. I was in that area last Suturday at a friends place.

Andrea C,

I wasn't painting the whole North end with the same brush, just the area nearest to the proposed stadium site. There are many nice areas in the North end and I agree James N. is getting better, but it's still along way from being desirable for most people in this city. When it gets to that point then the city will have something to be proud of.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 11:35:27

"Now, clearly emotions and the potential of losing the Tiger-Cats has affected everyone. This fear is ruling the day more than long-term planning and vision."

Captain, council being in the leadership position they are, will vote with the overall good in this I'm sure rather than from a fear stance, I would think that they are past that as political leaders.

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By TheHypothesist (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 11:49:20

Is MIP all just Lloyd Ferguson's ploy to turn his beloved temporary ramp at Aberdeen into a permanent one?

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/240338--councillor-wants-hwy-403-ramp-to-stay

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By AndreaC (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 11:50:28

@bigguy - I agree with you that the downtown is not desirable to a large group of people right now. All the MORE reason to remediate what we have down in the West Harbour, which is a potential jewel that could showcase our city and build on the grassroots development/improvement that is already happening downtown.

I'm actually feeling quite optimistic these days - this debate has highlighted the potential of our waterfront and the support/interest of a large number of Hamiltonians has been, I'm sure, duly noted by developers.

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By graham (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 13:09:31

I'm enjoying this idea that MIP is more accessible because it has a highway ramp nearby. Its a single lane. How many cars can crawl up it at one time? Certainly less than can get off a GO train at Liuna and walk over to the WH.

Also, isn't the city currently investigating an Emergency Detour Route through/around the city due to the bottle neck that the 403 creates? A single car crash completely shuts down that part of the city and people are forced to take the RHCE & the linc to carry on westward. Wouldn't a thousand cars, to be optimistic and assume that a whole heck of a lot of people would walk or take public transit to a game, exiting at the single lane exit be just about as bad as a car crash?

Can't see how this 'accessible' site is better than the WH. It's distance from proposed LRT and GO Stations and single highway exit 'entrance' makes it seem worse to me.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 14:43:37

Graham...I get your point. Access to GO (and connection to centres such as Burlington/Oakville/Toronto) is poor.

It's on a highway, but there's only one way to get from there to the highway...Longwood Road to Aberdeen.

Connection to the city is poor - the site is hemmed in by highway ramps, bounded by industrial land to the east and the 403 to the west, and has no visible connection to Main St. and the LRT. This part of Main is where the bike lane disappears. Frid has no sidewalks and is basically only a entry/exit ramps to the Main St. expressway. On the other side of Main is the 403 off-ramp.

Longwood Road in this section is essentially a bridge over the 403 (with very narrow sidewalks). People will get killed walking up to Main St. and the LRT. No potential for spin-off development here - the best we can do is getting rid of the car dealership and maybe upgrading the CHML plaza.

If the city had plans to extend Frid St. into the site, reconfigure the 403 ramps to Main, and make Frid a gateway street (complete with signals, LRT stop and development around the intersection) it might work, but that alone requires close to a hundred million dollars worth of improvement. Without that, there's absolutely no way I can see much in the way of community development benefits from this stadium. Fans will be in a hurry to get the heck out of there.

From where I sit, even East Mountain looks to have more positives to it than this site. It's an abysmal place for a stadium, period. Whether you drive there, walk there, bike there, or take public transit, the experience will be a very negative one.

Comment edited by arienc on 2010-08-31 13:46:35

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 14:43:50

I think it was two crashes that shut the city down, but you're right on all other counts. MIP has two lanes of highway access to it, plus four lanes of roads leading away from it.

Awesome accessibility.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 14:43:57

Naming rights for a visible stadium from the highway is big money as is image, a new stadium for people driving by on the 403 puts both the city and TigerCats in a much better light than some tucked away stadium like IWS or WH where people drive by the 403 from other cities and chuckle to themselves "yikes, Hamilton, dirty smelly steel town and they have some football team that plays somewhere near the smelly steel mills, no thanks Hamilton, you're too dirty etc for me to venture to."

Comment edited by HamiltonFan on 2010-08-31 13:44:51

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By arienc (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 14:53:30

HamiltonFan...I know naming rights are a big deal, but this whole issue about highway presence being an important determinant of those naming rights makes the assumption (as do many people who grew up in our car culture) that the only way people experience a city and form an opinion of it is by driving by on the freeways.

Couldn't the people exercising on the Bayfront and spending hours there, be just as good a target market as the motorists whizzing down the 403?

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 15:05:22

Yes arienc, but the key is to get people down there and without a perimeter road, people in large enough numbers, I believe, won't go and thus naming rights will not garner the money. The 403 or a major highway is "free exposure" sort of thing and you don't have to drag people to the WH. Hey, wife and me love it, we live in Hamilton and go for walks there and have a coffee at Williams Cafe. But we are in the minority and will continue to be I think.

Motorists are right there for the taking, corporations will pay for naming rights like they have at BMO in Toronto that you can see from the QEW.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 15:16:06

HamiltonFan...What makes an advertiser like Primus more likely to pay through the a$$ for the naming rights for "Primus Communications Stadium", instead of just putting up a Primus billboard at the side of the highway to get the same exposure?

The value of naming rights is in being associated with the team, and getting your company name mentioned in the media for free. It has very little to do with being located at the side of a freeway. Billboards get you that exposure just as effectively.

Comment edited by arienc on 2010-08-31 14:17:01

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By TheHypothesist (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 15:27:37

Isn't one of the prime arguments for business location choice is highway access and visibility? With MIP, I can't help think we are trading jobs for a stadium...

Then again, in the past we've traded employment lands for Walmarts, so I guess councillors are patting themselves on the back for going up-market this time with a stadium.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 15:33:22

Naming rights are much more associated with the number of people viewing the big sign I would say but I'm no marketing expert.

If we are trading jobs, then voice your concerns no stadium at MIP. If that's how you feel, tell your councillor that by all means. Maybe there is another solution though rather than looking at this as 'either' 'or'.

Comment edited by HamiltonFan on 2010-08-31 14:34:14

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By S.H. (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 16:33:35

Below are links to two good examples, published 19 months ago, of views that dissent from the Hamilton "normal"--or what was normal until Larry dropped 17,000 votes in the 2006 election [as has been pointed out elsewhere], and therefore lost. I don't like the expression "new normal", but maybe Fred's influence among other things has started a new normal for citizens and city hall processes. I just tried these links and they still work. I hope they translate to this web log: the first is a Sat., Jan. 24, 2009 Spectator column by Terry Cooke explaining why Confederation Park is a bad place for a stadium:
"It's not rocket science: Confederation Park not suitable for stadium"
THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR
(Jan 24, 2009) http://www.thespec.com/opinion/article/105248--it-s-not-rocket-science-confederation-park-not-suitable-for-stadium
-----------
The second is a Jan. 23, 2009 Editorial in the Hamilton Mountain News,
"Pie in the sky"
By Mountain News, Editorial Jan 23, 2009,
http://www.hamiltonmountainnews.com/news/article/160429

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By z jones (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 16:54:26

@TheHypothesist yeah, it's easy to go up-market when you're the one picking up the tab...

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By anon (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 18:14:54

So somehow a stadium located along the 403 will improve Hamilton's image? First let's see what this thing will look like before we make any such conclusions. In truth, the thing will become just another building on the landscape which few will take note of. A much better impression would be made if it was developed in an eco-friendly manner and that some of the land was used as greenspace rather than paved parking lots. It could be used as nesting habitat for killdeers which had established themselves on the other side of Longwood before the construction actually began. The WH is ideal because it is located downtown near the hub of the city's public transit system and will be built on land that will likely not attract a better tenant. I'm very disappointed that this proposal has suddenly been foisted upon the people of the west end. The west end is gradually being enveloped by development and is as a result is no longer the safe, peaceful community that it was intended to be.

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By Velo (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 18:23:33

Why doesnt Hamilton lobby HostCo for the Road Cycling component of the games?
Velodrome & PanAm Park/Condos at West Harbour, Cycling up and down our escarpmet into our Downtown core, with a MiP Stadium connected by LRT.

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By Be T (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 20:27:17

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.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 21:57:31

Understand what's going on? What's going on is that a savvy businessman sees a pot of gold that's earmarked for specific purposes (downtown revitalization and a stadium in a location that is well serviced by transit) and is trying to hijack it for his own personal gain.

If Bob Young was serious about his negotiations then he'd release his business case demonstrating why the WH location is so bad. Until he does that he doesn't really have a leg to stand on when it comes to declarations of integrity.

If the city is presented with specific problems there is a chance that they can be accommodated. Without that it's the equivalent of the boy who doesn't get everything he wants and simply takes his ball and goes home.

What I really don't understand is why are all the Ti-Cat supporters assuming that the Mayor wants the team to fail? That's ridiculous on the face of it. If the team is failing then the city will have to prop it up even more than it already does.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 22:00:11

Fear will keep the local councillors in line. Fear of this football franchise.

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By slodrive (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 22:51:54

Surprised by all the negativity here. I think today was a great day for the city. I'm confident that this location is the best place for the Ticats to become self-sustaining, it has decent (and soon to be better) access to public transit and remediates a brownfield.

Virtually every councillor reiterated that this is not to be done at the expense of the WH. So, where's the problem? Everyone should be happy, shouldn't they?

To me, this has better potential for the WH than a stadium. Sure, a stadium would instantly clean up a massive swath of land. But then you're left with....a stadium. At their prettiest, they're large and view obstructing.

Now, I think we have some real city building potential here. The pressure will be on all parties to ensure the WH gets cleaned up and developed. And we won't have the embarrassment of losing a 140 year old franchise that is a key part of our identity. This was a good day for Hamilton. We still need a few more good days rather quickly to make this happen.

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By slodrive (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 23:00:04

@Brandon -- pot of gold?? This is the CFL we're talking about. I'm a Ticat supporter and a city building supporter. You can be both. I believe Bob wants this team to not lose money. To be a marketable asset for the city. There's no pots of gold in the CFL. That's part of the reason why I like it so much.

It's honest.

I don't necessarily agree with the stance Bob has taken -- but, I respect his goals. He's no Al Davis or Art Modell. Business types like Bob, I think, are the kind of guys we need in this city. While we may not agree with his perspective, he obviously cares about the city and is willing to battle for the team.

I agree that it would be an enormous help if they opened up their WH business case. But, I don't think their arguments are without merit. Overall, I simply disagree with them. That said, I still think we are all in a better position anyway.

Comment edited by slodrive on 2010-08-31 22:01:24

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 23:49:49

The pot of gold is the Future Fund money and the provincial and federal money as well, not the team.

Comment edited by Brandon on 2010-08-31 22:50:10

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By cityfan (registered) | Posted September 02, 2010 at 15:43:18

@ slodrive. The last time I checked wasn't Al Davis's Oakland Raiders the worst team in the NFL! I hear what you are saying about Bob yet bringing Davis into this creeped me out. I hope BY isn't similar but they both are stubborn.

Comment edited by cityfan on 2010-09-02 14:46:35

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