Councillors voted to ask staff to prepare a detailed report on an Ivor Wynne Stadium rebuild, as well as to prepare a "Plan B" report on a scalable West Harbour stadium.
By Jeff Reid
Published January 13, 2011
Hamilton City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to study rebuilding Ivor Wynne as a 25,000 seat Pan Am stadium and long-term home for the CFL Tiger-Cats.
An expected dozen City staffers will now have less than two weeks to prepare a report on the feasibility of the last-minute $115 million renovation proposed by Mayor Bob Bratina and Hamilton Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young.
Councillors also voted 10-6 on the motion to study a 6,000 seat scalable solution in West Harbour as the "Plan B" stadium site.
A Pan Am stadium "will happen", said Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr, who supported redundant preparations to ensure Hamilton's role in the Pan Am games.
Wednesday night's meeting contained no fireworks, only a steady chorus from the council: official handling, overwhelming public interest, and the corporate and media meddling have all made a complicated responsibility even more difficult and somewhat embarrassing for us all.
Councillors Sam Merulla (Ward 4) and Terry Whitehead (Ward 8) led that charge, indicating early on they would be supporting the Ivor Wynne site as the destination for a long and difficult stadium journey.
Brad Clark (Ward 9) drew gallery applause when questioned the specific costs involved. "I want guarantees in terms of what the funding is", said Clark.
He issued his own criticism of the process, as did Scott Duvall (Ward 7), who accuses the Ticats "negotiating in the media" and remains concerned about the price tag.
Brian McHattie (Ward 1) took the opportunity to express the frustration and lack of trust felt by many Hamilton residents.
Russ Powers (Ward 13) and Tom Jackson (Ward 6) declared their support of an Ivor Wynne stadium renovation, with Jackson speaking up for a fresh approach to West Harbour development.
Judi Partridge (Ward 15) stated her complete agreement with Maria Pearson (Ward 10) on the concerns over the initial costs and the long-term tax-burden. She disagreed the word "preferred", viewed a directive for an Ivor Wynne solution.
Rob Pasuta (Ward 14) asked exactly what the oft-named-never-specified corporate contribution was to be, adding he also disapproved of the term "preferred" in the motion.
It was likely Jason Farr (Ward 2) who carried Mayor Bratina's late-game football play the furthest, with a detailed explanation of the upside he sees for the neighbourhood, the Tiger-Cats organization and the open possibilities for West Harbour.
Finally, with the term "preferred" removed from the motion, the vote was 16-0 for a very fast feasibility study of the Bratina-Young plan.
Once the motion for City staff to prepare a "West Harbour Plan B" report passed 10-6, Council carried out the remaining business of the evening at an impressive pace. The future for a velodrome, while mentioned at the Wednesday meeting by some, did not appear on any agenda.
The Ivor Wynne stadium site report is due back from City Manager Chris Murray on Jan 24, for the General Issues Committee meeting.
The Pan Am plan countdown clock is ticking down to the Feb 1 deadline set by Ian Troop, HostCo CEO, who expected to make a statement 10:30 am, Thursday.
The vote came one day after Bratina and Young announced the surprise plan to renovate Ivor Wynne with a 20-year lease agreement. Young said we can expect two visits from the Grey Cup in the next 8 years in a new stadium.
Renovations would start in 2012 to the north stands, while the south stands would be completely rebuilt. The completion date would be set for sometime in 2014.
The expansion plan calls for the current stadium site plus the former Scott Park secondary school and practice fields adding at least 1,500 parking spaces.
This article was first posted on Jeff's website
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