Ian Troop reminds Hamilton that the Pan Am Games are to support high performance sport, not provide a Ticat stadium, and warns Burlington to look very closely at the claim an Aldershot stadium won't cost the City any money.
By Ryan McGreal
Published January 07, 2011
On Monday, Toronto 2015 CEO Ian Troop told RTH in an interview that Hamilton's February 1 Pan Am stadium deadline is final and that a 6,000 seat stadium for community use can meet the Pan Am criteria.
Yesterday he issued a public statement repeating that the February 1 deadline "will not be extended under any circumstances", that the Pan Am Games are intended to create amateur sport legacies, and that the proposal for an Aldershot stadium for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in partnership with Paletta international is subject to the same deadline and the same criteria of being complete, fully funded and ready to execute.
This morning, Mr. Troop spoke with RTH by telephone to provide further clarification of Toronto 2015's position on these outstanding issues.
It's not about providing a stadium for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. If that's part of a solution, terrific, but that's not our mandate.
In his statement yesterday, Mr. Troop explicitly and repeatedly stressed that the Pan Am legacy is amateur sport. We asked whether this was in response to the controversy over finding a site that satisfies the Ticats?
Troop responded, "It's important for us to keep a balance. The predominant reason why the Federal and Provincial governments are investing in the Pan Am Games is to provide infrastructure to support high performance sport."
In Hamilton's case, "The stadium debate has to be balanced. It's not about providing a stadium for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. If that's part of a solution, terrific, but that's not our mandate."
Based on much of the recent media coverage of this story, it seem clear that for many Hamiltonians, a Pan Am stadium without the Ticats just isn't worth the bother. We asked Troop to share his perspective on the silver lining for Hamiltonians in building a smaller community stadium.
He started by affirming, "Hamilton has to decide what's in Hamilton's best interest. It's not our position to tell the community what is best for it."
Explaining why some cities choose a community stadium, he explained, "A community stadium could be a facility that would be used for regional sports, track and field, high school events, and so on. That's what a community-sized stadium will do. To the right communities that has real value."
He noted Hamilton Council deciding before Christmas that Ron Joyce Stadium already fills that role and added, "If that's the position of this Council, we're not going to second-guess that, but they need to make the decision and we need to work with it."
The current draft funding model has Toronto 2015 contributing $70 million and Hamilton contributing $45 million to build a 15,000 seat stadium. Troop confirmed that if Hamilton builds a smaller community stadium, the savings from building a less expensive facility will be shared proportionately by Toronto 2015 and the City.
"A less expensive venue like a community-sized stadium means these percentages [of relative conribution between Toronto 2015 and the City] remain the same but the total money goes down."
He pointed out, "We'll have money to invest elsewhere and Hamilton has more for the Velodrome if it wants."
We also asked Troop for his advice on what Hamilton can do to maximize the legacy value of the Velodrome project. He responded, "City staff are already doing a great job of reaching out to sports organizations and looking at a variety of locations and designs for this thing."
The City is following "a good, disciplined process looking at all options, involving everyone in the community constructively to look at possibilities."
He recommended "supporting that effort and recognizing the value that could have as part of a sports legacy for Hamilton and even the country," calling the Velodrome, "an important part of the contribution Hamilton makes to the sports landscape."
There has already been some debate in Hamilton as to where we should put the Velodrome, with some people calling for the facility to be clustered with the stadium and others calling for a more suburban location closer to most road cyclists.
Asked whether Toronto 2015 has a preferred location, Troop responded, "We have no prefernce from a location standpoint. We're just happy that the process being followed is inclusive and transparent and is looking at all of the options. That will help ensure a really good decision is made at the end of the day."
He added, "It's important to make sure the process listens to all the stakeholders and comes to what would be seen as the logical and best solution for the community and for high-performance sport."
I would be very skeptical about the claim of no investment from Burlington... When things look too good to be true, they usually are.
Troop raised some concerns about the Aldershot stadium proposal. "We haven't been talked to directly, but I will tell you that it's important that Burlington Council and staff look very closely at the reported costs being talked about for the Burlington stadium."
Noting that The Ticat/Paletta proposal's numbers don't match Toronto 2015's numbers based on the BMO Field model, Troop noted, "I would be very skeptical about the claim of no investment from Burlington. As Grandma said, there's no such thing as a free lunch. When things look too good to be true, they usually are."
He commended Burlington Council for voting to investigate the proposal further. "It's wise that Council has asked staff to look at it. I would look at it with both eyes wide open.
"They're taking a very wise step to look at it, and I'm confident they'll get the information they need to make an informed decision."
Asked whether he thinks Burlington can get a formal proposal to Toronto 2015 ready in time for the February 1 deadline, Troop responded, "I'm in no position to say whether they can meed the deadline. However, we will be firm on the criteria and our expectations of 'what does a proposal mean'."
Troop acknowledged that the process of organizing the Pan Am Games has had its share of challenges as the host corporation works with a number of municipalities in the GTA.
He closed on an optimistic note. "I try to work backwards from the goal of a fantastic event that galvanizes our communities to the decisions we need to make to get there.
"There are bumps in the road you need to work through, but when we finally see the Opening Ceremonies, it will all be worthwhile."
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