The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have some fun with numbers in their study of economic benefits associated with the football club and associated companies.
By Graham Crawford
Published September 16, 2010
Where to begin? Just when I thought they couldn't be any more brazen in their attempts to bamboozle City Council and the citizens of Hamilton, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats once again exceed all reasonable expectations.
Their newest work of fiction-dressed-as-fact has the somewhat clumsy title of Economic Benefits Associated with the Hamilton Tiger Cats Football Club and Associated Companies. Not my idea of a grabber, but maybe it's intended to bore rather than engage: chimera pitched as substance.
The problem is, many of our Councillors may be confused and think this newly published mystery justifies all the embarrassing contortions some of them have made to keep the Cats in Hamilton.
The slim volume begins 141 years ago when the then Hamilton Tigers got their start in Hamilton. It ends with a regurgitation of the absurd numbers concocted to prove the value of the Ticats to their apparently gullible fans, not to mention those of us who choose to support the Cats by offering them a $120 million stadium in the West Harbour.
It's the stuff in between that's equal parts fantasy and comedy. And oh, the laughs you'll have if you make your way through to the end. Just when you think you've got it figured out, there's a new and completely unexpected twist. Mystery fans, you're gonna love this one.
Here are some highlights, and I use the term loosely. No need for a spoiler alert in this review.
According to the authors, the Hamilton Tiger Cats related activities support as much as $1.7 billion. Impressive, eh? Oh, did I mention that's over a ten-year period?
Oh, and did I mention that it also includes the construction of the stadium that the Ticats didn't pay for - and based on their silence at the last COW meeting, won't contribute to either?
It gets better. The other Bob Young companies that have nothing to do with football, but everything to do with Bob Young trying to look meaningful in this novel, are included in the number. Lulu indeed!
The spin-off spending by spectators, visiting sports teams and other related visitors will support almost 6,000 person years of employment. I don't know about you, but I retired after working for 30 years. That was quite enough for me, but maybe the Ticats are thinking more along the lines of the ancient Egyptians? It took years to build the pyramids, you know!
Call me a cynic, but I think they might be including businesses that already exist. You know, like bars, restaurants, parking lots, Tim Horton's, panhandlers. I guess these businesses wouldn't have any non-Ticat customers whenever there wasn't a game?
There's a lot of BLOCK-CAP text in the book that features a lot of really big numbers extolling the remarkable contribution the Ticats will make. Not sure who their editor was, but he or she forgot to make it clear that these are ten-year numbers. Oops! I'm sure they didn't mean to confuse, inflate or over-state.
They talk a lot about direct, indirect and induced revenues. The language they use to define the terms is way over my pointy little head, but I think I can guess what induced means.
The stadium construction will generate nearly 1,900 person years of employment and over $190 million of GDP. Wow. I guess if I go to a game, I can say that I too generated a couple of thousand years of employment.
I love it when you really get engaged in a book. It's like you're right there on the pages with the central characters. And what characters they are!
There's a great part about halfway through the novel where the narrator says he will deliver two Grey Cups in 10 years. Holy mackerel, talk about your super hero. Eight teams. Ten years. Two Grey Cups. Those numbers are even more impressive than fifteen Councillors voting seven times for one location.
Not only that, but our super hero says these two Grey Cups will deliver almost 1,400 person years of employment. Wow. All those people finding meaningful employment from just two games in ten years.
Imagine what these guys could do if they ran a successful business 365 days a year. OK, maybe not 365 days a year. How about 10?
According to the author of this twisty little mystery, the Ticats will be directly responsible for supporting nearly 14,000 person years of employment. This raises one big question for me. Why didn't they tell US Steel about their magic powers when all of those steelworkers lost their jobs? Too busy working the play book, I guess.
There's a great line toward the end of the book that says, "Among the many intangible benefits that a community accrues from hosting professional sports teams include youth sports development, and, more generally a sense of well-being and community development."
Let me translate. Cats make you feel good. At least that was the idea, until it became clear that the only kind of community development they were interested in was our tax money and their revenue. Do you feel better? Has that Ticat sense of well-being come over you? Are you sitting on the floor with your legs crossed and purring like a cat?
By the way, you have to clean your own litter box. That is, unless you want to hire a few thousand people to do it for you over the next ten years.
Although I got a few laughs and a few thrills from reading this slim volume, at the end of it I felt a bit dirty. Not only that, but as much as I love fantasy, this one left me cold. It was way over the top. I like my fantasies to be at least grounded in reality for at least part of the story. This one began in an unbelievable way and just went crazy from there.
Apparently the author is considering a sequel. Word on the street is that it's about a group of bulky guys with strange outfits visiting another planet where the inhabitants are really stupid and are overpowered by the aliens and end up giving them all of their food and water because they ask for it and the inhabitants end up dying because they have nothing left to sustain them.
Wild, eh? Can't wait. I've got Amazon bookmarked.
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