The Aldershot play is the Ticats' last-ditch attempt to wrangle a stadium that meets their goals of easy motor vehicle access, highway visibility and spinoff investment - or at least to scare Hamilton Council into reconsidering Confederation Park.
By Ryan McGreal
Published December 30, 2010
Well, that didn't take long. Burlington City Councillors are backpedaling quickly from a proposal by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Paletta International Corp. to locate the Pan Am / Ticats stadium on a parcel of land just south of the QEW in Aldershot.
So far, the Ticats have only met with Mayor Rick Goldring and Ward 1 (southwest) Councillor Rick Craven, whose ward includes Aldershot, and no formal proposals have yet been presented to the rest of council.
Blair Lancaster, Councillor for Ward 6 (northeast), avers that she "will be looking at all aspects of this project with specific concerns regarding any financial or tax implications to our residents."
Marianne Meed Ward, Councillor for Ward 2 (southwest-central), has been criticizing the proposal strongly via her twitter account. She says, "At this point there are more questions than answers about this project. I have heard numbers of a funding gap ranging between $5 and $30 million, but no formal ask has been made to the city of Burlington" to cover the gap.
Paul Sharman, Councillor for Ward 5 (southeast), suggests that a proposal with "Nothing down and a subsequent revenue stream to Burlington might make a compelling argument." He adds, "For me it comes down to long-term economic benefit, guarantees that Burlington taxpayers will never have to subsidize a stadium, ever."
John Taylor, Councillor for Ward 3 (northwest), argues, "The only way this will work in the short time frame 'til February 1st is for Hamilton to own the stadium, subject to Burlington's planning approvals and public process." He adds, "I do not support Burlington tax dollars subsidizing a private business or ownership of a large stadium."
Mayor Goldring and Councillor Craven, the two members of Council who have met with the Ticats, have not yet responded to RTH.
Craven posted a couple of messages on his twitter account defending the decision to investigate an Aldershot stadium and affirming that many questions need to be answered - including the question of whether Aldershot residents support a stadium in their midst - before he can support an actual proposal.
On December 28, he clarified:
The idea of the Tiger Cats moving to Aldershot is just an "idea" at this point. We are a long way away from any decisions. City to study it.
This evening he added that regardless of the final decision, the positive publicity of Aldershot as "a great place to do business" is more important.
The real story here may be buried at the bottom of today's Spectator article on the concerns of Burlington councillors:
The Spectator has learned there is talk among some Hamilton councillors to reconsider evaluating Confederation Park for a stadium site. It comes to council Jan. 12 for a formal vote after being rejected in a 9-6 committee vote just before Christmas. All that would be needed is for three councillors to change their minds.
The Aldershot site is the Ticats' last-ditch attempt to wrangle a stadium site that meets their goals of easy motor vehicle access, highway visibility and opportunities for spinoff investment.
It's also their last-ditch attempt to scare Hamilton Council into considering Confederation Park after rejecting it multiple times as a poor fit for a waterfront park and greenspace.
The Ticats have affirmed and reaffirmed that they will "never" play at Council's preferred West Harbour stadium site. Even if it has no chance of panning out, the Aldershot play may serve to undermine Council's decision that Confederation Park is a non-starter as a potential stadium site.
Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina was quoted in today's Spectator saying he believes HostCo would be willing to extend the firm February 1 deadline for selecting and finalizing a stadium site if Council votes to reverse the December 22 committee of the whole decision to reject Confederation Park.
The Ticats have managed to spook Hamilton City Council back to the table several times already, which is why we spent the past several months frantically investigating alternative sites after the Ticats rejected the West Harbour.
However, at this point it seems highly unlikely that Burlington will get off without having to commit significant capital toward the stadium, not to mention necessary investments in increasing lane capacity in and out of the site.
Burlington residents are sick of tax increases. They have seen their property taxes go up by 28 percent over the past four years, and this past October's municipal election overturned the mayor and half the councillors.
One last note: recent media reports also suggest that the Pan Am Host Corporation (HostCo) could provide $100 million in funding toward the construction cost.
Given that this is significantly more than HostCo had committed to contribute toward a stadium in Hamilton, RTH contacted HostCo president Ian Troop to ask for clarification. Mr. Troop has not yet responded.
The site is currently zoned to hold a 9,000 seat hockey arena, and Paletta International proposes a full-service sports and entertainment complex, including a hotel, restaurants, retail establishments and condos.
Paletta would donate the stadium land and contribute $30 million in capital funding as part of its plan to develop the complex.
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