Special Report: Pan Am

More Questions Than Answers After Ivor Wynne Stadium Meeting

Even Councillors seem unsure just exactly what they agreed to at today's committee meeting, when they approved a proposal to make an Ivor Wynne renovation Hamilton's bid for a Pan Am stadium.

By Ryan McGreal
Published January 24, 2011

At a contentious General Issues Committee (formerly Committee of the Whole) meeting today, City Councillors voted to receive a staff financial report on the proposed Ivor Wynne renovation and to make this proposal its preferred option to present to Toronto 2015 as the site of a Pan Am Games stadium, even though the plan is underfunded by between $36.5 million and $54.5 million.

The City would specify to Toronto 2015, the Pan Am Games host corporation, that Hamilton's financial commitment to the stadium is capped at $45 million - money that would come from the Future Fund. Another $70 million would come from the Federal and Provincial governments via Infrastructure Ontario.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the intended primary tenant of the 25,000 seat stadium, have offered $600,000 a year toward the stadium's operating costs, to be funded out of a $3 ticket surcharge. Neither the Ticats nor any corporate partners or sponsors have committed any capital costs toward the stadium construction.

Toronto 2015 CEO Ian Troop recently confirmed that the host corporation has no extra Games money to spare, though the Provincial Government has indicated in the past that it might be willing to contribute more money toward the stadium.

The Committee also voted to abandon Council's earlier preferred option to build a 15,000 seat stadium at the West Harbour - though at least some councillors believe a bid that was submitted by the City on January 20 for a scalable 5,000 seat stadium at the West Harbour is still in effect.

Troop has repeatedly stated that a 5-6000 seat community stadium is consistent with the Pan Am Games commitment to create legacy facilities for high performance amateur sport, and that a community sized stadium would not require a professional legacy tenant to be economically viable.

On January 7, Troop told RTH that the Games are "not about providing a stadium for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. If that's part of a solution, terrific, but that's not our mandate."

However, recent media reports have suggested that Queen's Park has an interest in a stadium solution that includes a new home for Hamilton's CFL team. As the Spectator reported:

It was a call from a McGuinty government representative to Mayor Bob Bratina's office early this week that set the stadium compromise proposal in motion.

Bratina then called Hamilton Tiger-Cats president Scott Mitchell, who raised the Ivor Wynne solution.

Toronto 2015 has also clearly stated, both publicly and in correspondence with the City, that Hamilton's stadium proposal must include assurances that the cost is fully funded and committed.

That means Council and Staff have only a few days to whittle a $36.5-$54.5 million shortfall down to zero, or else the plan will fail Toronto 2015's approval criteria.

Even now, there are more questions than answers in this never-ending stadium fiasco.

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 mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted January 24, 2011 at 22:10:41

As I said elsewhere on RTH, today's meeting was hardly the stuff of great governance. (More like further material for my oft-suggested theatrical musical production "Something Happened on the Way to The PanAm Stadium'. A farce, naturally.)

Still, was especially proud of one of Stoney Creek's Councillors, Brad Clark.

(I know that coming from me this is going to seem rich, but I think most present should be put on a word-diet.)

Oh, and I can't wait to see if we get any of your questions answered.

Comment edited by mystoneycreek on 2011-01-24 22:11:08

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted January 24, 2011 at 22:19:38

I thought Councilor Johnson raised some good points too. She was very clear in reminding everyone that HostCo was very clear that it is Hamilton's responsibility to figure out the cost issue.

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By PeterF (registered) | Posted January 24, 2011 at 22:29:49

This was just surreal. So what happens now. Cats will not or cannot kick in cash. Why would the Feds or Prov. kick in extra? Oh wait, wasn't it the Prov. that set the whole IWS debacle up. This stinks of a back room deal. Hijacked again.

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By mb (registered) | Posted January 24, 2011 at 22:50:57

Ryan, I have a feeling if this were being built at WH finally, you would not have so many questions even though many in this city (myself included) would.

However, I do agree that the Tiger-Cats need to put up some straight up cash for this.

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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted January 24, 2011 at 22:59:11

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By goin'downtown (registered) | Posted January 24, 2011 at 23:31:50

@ GrapeApe, another thought (found you again). Perhaps this article explains the over-the-top confidence of the Bob's at their media announcement.

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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted January 24, 2011 at 23:35:11

@goin'downtown - that's what I mean, there are forces at work that make the whole process a sham. If the Feds step in then everyone sees this as a win... except for the people that consider the FF more than stadium fun money.

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By hamiltonthisis (registered) - website | Posted January 24, 2011 at 23:54:07

Mark Richardson answered this in his Roundup column -

What happened to the corporate sponsors Bob Young proudly trumpeted last week when he and Mayor Bratina > > >announced the IWS plan?

Where are the sponsors we all heard about? Primus, Hortons, Molson? Only made a small deal with the cats for advertising, not providing money for operations or construction

As for -

Though Councillors voted to eliminate the 15,000 seat West Harbour stadium option, it is unclear whether a >proposal for a 6,000 seat scalable stadium is still in effect. At least some Councillors seem to think it is.

McHattie tried to get a motion detailing a WH contingency plan, but it was voted down. As far as I am aware, WH is now dead.

Ticat owner Bob Young has promised two Grey Cup games in Hamilton in the next decade. However, Ivor Wynne >Stadium would only have 25,000 seats, with the ability to expand to 35,000 using temporary seating. CFL >Commissioner wrote a threatening letter to Hamilton last summer stating that the CFL requires 45,000 seats to >host a Grey Cup.

A 2 million dollar bribe to the CFL from the city would take care of this, as outlined by Rob Rossini's presentation.

What does the Future Fund Board of Governors think about spending $45 million to renovate Ivor Wynne Stadium?

Who are these mysterious people?

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By PeterF (registered) | Posted January 24, 2011 at 23:59:19

@By goin'downtown

I was thinking the same thing. Saw Bratina on CHCH and he seemed pretty smug. So if he knew this when the 2 Bobs had a sit down and BY said "I can work at IWS", why wouldn't the spineless TC cheerleading Mayor of our fine city tell him "ok if IWS could work so can WH. BY already ate crow by going to IWS, WH may have mended alot of wounds. Even the die-hards that followed his every whim must not consider this a win.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 00:06:27

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Comment edited by hammy on 2011-01-25 00:12:42

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 00:08:47

From the staf report:


"7.5

Item 5.9 Correspondence from Toronto 2015

That should arrangements for the use of Ivor Wynne Stadium as the Pan Am Stadium for some reason not be successful, the City of Hamilton prepare a written submission to TO2015 by January 20, 2011 stating a willingness to construct the 5,000 – 6,000 seat scalable Pan Am Games Soccer stadium, and that it be ratified by Council no later than February 1,2011."

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By drb (registered) - website | Posted January 25, 2011 at 00:19:10

So the Bobs and senior city staff are making calls to tap into a Fed slush fund. The CPC is going whole hog into the pro sports venue business (which they promised not to fund, just months ago) as an election looms on the horizon. Politics and pro sports are a perverse business. I sure hope Bratina can call in all of his contacts to cover our social services and infrastructure funding gaps. Or is he a one trick pony?

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By PeterF (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 00:21:57

@Hammy

First off, it is the RTH/WH duet, but then again you aren't much on facts are you? If you speak for the majority of Hamiltonians we are truly going backwards in this city.

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By drb (registered) - website | Posted January 25, 2011 at 00:31:16

Peter, Hammy has trouble with basic math. Note his constant use of the word majority. As in, the majority of people voted for Bratina. ;)

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By drb (registered) - website | Posted January 25, 2011 at 02:49:22

It is obvious that $ figures were hard to pin down. Councillors were frustrated by the lack of clear financial figures, as I am sure staff were handcuffed as well.(except for Rossini, who claims to have seen the Cats financial records) Both construction costs and the TiCats mystery operating costs were veiled in assumptions and secrecy. Rossini answered a councillor's question (I can't remember which councillor) saying that with the current IW deal the Cats could remain solvent. This got me thinking about revenues. We don't know the terms or value of the new sponsorships. We don't know how much luxury boxes will bring in. We don't know what a soccer team can generate. We only have guarantees on the minimums for a surcharge on tickets- $600,000/year.

Naming rights are a sliding percentage based on market values ($500,000 was bandied about as a base amount), again an assumption. Parking based on 1500 spots x 10 games/season x $20/spot= $30,000/season.(my calculation, could be more) And the city is still on the hook for yearly maintenance costs, with no capital investment for the inevitable replacement of the stadium.

The only numbers I could find on my own are the CFL salary cap (for 2010-$4.25 million) and the CFL salary floor (for 2010-$3.9 million). BYs stated losses over the last 7 years are $30 million. That averages out to $4.28 million in losses per year. I understand that BY invested in a scoreboard and other IW upgrades, but his losses show that the Cats can't meet player payroll in an average year without taking on debt.

Can anyone help me in making sense of these numbers? Am I mad, or does this look like we are going to be on the hook for losses for years to come, even if upper levels of government bail us out of our current capital funding short fall?

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By Mogadon Megalodon (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 07:11:08

drb: "Can anyone help me in making sense of these numbers? Am I mad, or does this look like we are going to be on the hook for losses for years to come, even if upper levels of government bail us out of our current capital funding short fall?"

The squishy math is everywhere. For instance:

"This great opportunity means that for the first time in decades, the Tiger-Cats and the City of Hamilton will have a first-rate facility we can be proud of as a national showcase for not only the teams but our great city. The Tiger-Cats won’t have to rely on wealthy owners to subsidize the team representing Hamilton. Between investing in the $2 million Dofasco/Arcelor Mittal TigerVision scoreboard, refurbishing the team’s quarters at Ivor Wynne, buying a building downtown for the business operations, and funding the operating losses of the team for the last six years, as Caretaker of the team I’ve invested over $30 million in the team and the city of Hamilton. We employ over 250 people in a wide variety of roles, and hundreds more part-time workers in Hamilton rely on and benefit from our related businesses.

The economics of a CFL team, even when we bring additional events to a new stadium, do not enable CFL teams to build their stadiums on their own. We can, and we will be, investing in the stadium and working with the City to find new revenue streams to ensure the stadium contributes enough economic activity (and the resulting tax revenue) to the City of Hamilton that the stadium more than justifies the city’s investment."

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/265110--letter-ticat-owner-bob-young-bullish-on-stadium-plan

You don't have to be a forensic accountant to see that the "$30m loss" often cited is, as BY describes it, an investment. The scoreboard he thoughtfully breaks out, leaving us with $28m invested in gussying up the locker room, buying the Jarvis Street bunker (and perhaps the payroll of his three enterprises sited therein, the Ticats, on-demand publishing upstart Lulu and sports marketing firm MRX, two of which have had claims of "substantial investments" -- again, the operative word being "investment" -- associated with them, per link below) and funding the operating losses of the team.

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/265348--ticats-will-invest-in-new-stadium

Without having numbers released it's obviously unclear exactly what the Cats' operating losses are, but it's not more than $28m. At the very least, that scoreboard (for which naming rights have been sold, suggesting possible ROI on that $2m) won't be scrapped.

At the same time, however, what we have from the Cats camp are sticky proclamations about how IWS' geographic/logistical handicap has contributed to the franchise's last four decades of borderline insolvency, Mitchell's characterization less than a month ago that IWS was basically an insane option and BY's ranking of IWS somewhere outside of his top three picks: Aldershot, Confederation Park and East Mountain.

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By improvethehammer (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 07:49:19

he scoreboard he thoughtfully breaks out, leaving us with $28m invested in gussying up the locker room, buying the Jarvis Street bunker

Let's be fair here. There were substantial upgrades to Ivor Wynne stadium, paid for by the Ticats. Let's be conservative, and say it was only $10 million. It is disingenuous to call it an "investment" given that they don't own the stadium, the city does. It is an operating cost, that they absorbed to the mutual benefit of the team and city.

what we have from the Cats camp are sticky proclamations about how IWS' geographic/logistical handicap has contributed to the franchise's last four decades of borderline insolvency

I am curious, does anyone here doubt that the location and age of IWS has not had a deleterious effect on the Ticats bottom line? Is it not reasonable to expect that better public transit access, parking, comfortable seats and concession areas would have a measurable improvement to the Ticats revenue?

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By improvethehammer (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 07:55:40

So the Bobs and senior city staff are making calls to tap into a Fed slush fund. The CPC is going whole hog into the pro sports venue business (which they promised not to fund, just months ago) as an election looms on the horizon. Politics and pro sports are a perverse business. I sure hope Bratina can call in all of his contacts to cover our social services and infrastructure funding gaps. Or is he a one trick pony?

Ahhhh!!! I don't know what I supposed to think.

On the one hand, I'm supposed to have a knee jerk reaction against government handouts. On the other hand, I'd love to take $40 million dollars from the federal government and spend it on Hamilton. It's a drop in the bucket in the federal budget ($2 per taxpayer), but it would make a huge difference to the stadium project here.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 07:59:07

You know what would make a huge difference to the stadium project here? A stadium at a location that would showcase Hamilton at it's finest and spur new private and commercial investments that would increase the tax base.

That ain't happening at Ivor Wynne, and we all know it.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 08:32:26

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted January 25, 2011 at 08:42:17

Well said ITH.

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By Andrea (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 08:47:05

Anyway you slice it it's our money being spent on this fiasco, BUT if the Feds are willing to chip in maybe they should just pay for the entire shebang. We can forgo the Pan Am games, not lose the Future Fund on this project and do PROPER reno of IWS instead of a half assed job.

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By improvethehammer (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 08:56:05

Anyway you slice it it's our money being spent on this fiasco, BUT if the Feds are willing to chip in maybe they should just pay for the entire shebang. We can forgo the Pan Am games, not lose the Future Fund on this project and do PROPER reno of IWS instead of a half assed job.

I'm worried about the precedent though. The reason the feds would consider is because there are high profile stadium projects in Vancouver, Regina, Winnipeg, Ottawa and Hamilton. And there will be a push for an NHL-calibre arena in Quebec City. With IWS, the city is paying a third of the up front cost.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 08:58:03

we are truly going backwards in this city

yea, too bad we can't return to the heady days of the past 2 decades when Hamilton was booming in all it's glory. Those were good times.

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By R Don Lyres (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 09:01:50

I sometimes get the impression that if Bob Young spent thirty dollars on a haircut then that would be considered an investment in the city.

Never before have I seen the operating costs of a business equated, dollar for dollar, as investment.

Another oddity of this whole exercise is the apparent existence of a profit and loss statement that features only column -- costs.

Nowhere is revenue ever mentioned. It is as though BY's group of businesses have expenses but no income.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted January 25, 2011 at 09:02:22

Who are these mysterious people (Hamilton Future Fund Board of Governors)?

Hardly mysterious. (Though I couldn't find 2011 information, sorry. Am pursuing it...)

http://www.hamilton.ca/CityDepartments/C...

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By Mogadon Megalodon (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 09:03:00

"There were substantial upgrades to Ivor Wynne stadium, paid for by the Ticats. Let's be conservative, and say it was only $10 million. It is disingenuous to call it an "investment" given that they don't own the stadium, the city does. It is an operating cost, that they absorbed to the mutual benefit of the team and city."

Perhaps. As I say, BY's serving up financial paella here, lumping all of his corporate investments into that $30m pile. And "investment" was BY's descriptor. Note that he took pains to calve the team's operating costs from the investments, even while keeping the composite costs all dutifully vague.

"does anyone here doubt that the location and age of IWS has not had a deleterious effect on the Ticats bottom line? Is it not reasonable to expect that better public transit access, parking, comfortable seats and concession areas would have a measurable improvement to the Ticats revenue?"

That's essentially what the Cats have been arguing all along, which is why IWS 2.0 is such a hard sell, especially in the absence of any Cats commitment other than ticket surcharges (which, of course, is problematic). Indeed, revenue-enhancing upgrades would appear to be the sort of "investment", if you care to call it such, that an owner might judge to be blue-chip. The wrinkle, of course, is that the organization is not making the investment in revenue-enhancing amenities. The taxpayers are. And so you get into the sort of math that is a little more knowable, such as the amount of inflation-adjusted rent you might require to cover the operational costs (and ongoing maintenance and eventual replacement) of a $226m stadium with a projected lifespan of 50 years. That looks to be a minimum of $4.5m annual user fees, adjusted for inflation. Another wrinkle: The noises from the Cats’ camp suggest that their winning formula involves, at the very least, inhabiting a factory-fresh stadium -- or, bizarrely, half of a factory-fresh stadium under the same leasing terms enjoyed in a crumbling, 80-year-old facility. Any way you slice it, it'll be an interesting week.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted January 25, 2011 at 09:06:01

yea, too bad we can't return to the heady days of the past 2 decades when Hamilton was booming in all it's glory. Those were good times.

OK, I'll bite: as opposed to when, Jason?

Or maybe you're just not old enough to remember when Hamilton was 'booming'. : )

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 09:10:47

OK, I'll bite: as opposed to when, Jason?

whooooosh

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By rednic (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 09:12:09

R Don Lyres said;

'Nowhere is revenue ever mentioned. It is as though BY's group of businesses have expenses but no income.'

Bob Young is an dot com entrepreneur. There is no revenue in that bussiness only a 'burn rate' obviously he used the same accountant but forgot tot tell them it was different business!

Comment edited by rednic on 2011-01-25 09:12:30

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By Andrea (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 09:13:16

Regarding the FF Board of Governors - were these positions included in the application processes for Committees and Boards? This process started shortly after the 'new' council was sworn in, so it may be possible that the selection process hasn't been completed or announced. Just thinking aloud.

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By Mogadon Megalodon (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 09:16:28

Another footnote to this please-make-it-stop debate is that the pressing need to replace Ivor Wynne was confirmed three years ago, and surely identified long before that (there having been talk of a new stadium dating back to the Ballard era), which makes the funding disarray and whack-a-mole site selection all the more disconcerting.

http://tiny.cc/6rtt8

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By Andrea (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 09:16:31

Clr Ferguson is on Bill Kelly trying to spin that there is no gap because IO has artificially inflated the costs.

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By improvethehammer (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 09:25:17

Let me try and answer some of the questions:

Ticat owner Bob Young has promised two Grey Cup games in Hamilton in the next decade. However, Ivor Wynne Stadium would only have 25,000 seats, with the ability to expand to 35,000 using temporary seating. CFL Commissioner wrote a threatening letter to Hamilton last summer stating that the CFL requires 45,000 seats to host a Grey Cup. The reason they want 45,000 is to guarantee $5 million in gate revenue. So if there are 35,000 seats, they'll just increase the average ticket price to $150. Not ideal, but it will work.

Mayor Bratina and Councillor Ferguson suggested that the renovation cost may be overstated, because Infrastructure Ontario tends to build a 20% padding into its pricing estimates to account for cost overruns. Is it prudent to assume that the IWS renovation won't be plagued by such cost overruns? I think he was just stating a fact. The funding gap will still need to be addressed. But at least we can be (reasonably) confident that there won't be even more unplanned expenditures.

What happened to the corporate sponsors Bob Young proudly trumpeted last week when he and Mayor Bratina announced the IWS plan? They'll step forward eventually. But I wouldn't expect any announcements from them or the team until the final brick is laid and we're ready to play football. Bob shouldn't have said anything so prematurely.

Why does Mayor Bratina believe the City's two main objectives in planning a Pan Am stadium are to retain the Ticats and to avoid tax increases? Whatever happened to city building and economic development - the mandate of the Future Fund being used for the City contribution? Good question. Although a revamped IWS should lead to economic development in an area that needs it.

How can the funding plan be partially dependent on a pro soccer team if Bob Young cannot guarantee that he will be able to launch a NASL team? My reading of the report shows that they cover the expense of renting to the NASL team ($308,000), but they don't cover the revenue. The $600,000 from ticket surcharges looks like $3 x 20,000 seats * 10 home games for the Ticats, and doesn't take into account 18 home games for an NASL team. If we do that, $3 x 8000 seats * 18 home games we get another $430,000 dollars.

What does the Future Fund Board of Governors think about spending $45 million to renovate Ivor Wynne Stadium? Presumably we'll find out. But its not a stretch to say that a new stadium enhances community life and will help increase Hamilton's economic growth. And the plan all along has been to use $55 million. But because there are no land acquisition costs, that $10 million can be spent elsewhere. (e.g. against the land acquisition at West Harbour).

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By Pie in the Sky (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 09:26:43

... An election is coming. Feds are considering investing in mega-stadiums in PQ and Regina. They are 'weak' in Hamilton, so guess what. There WILL be money for this stadium. Globe story highlights where it's coming from, and where it is likely going to ... connect the dots ... The Ivor Whynn stadium, regardless of ALL factors, will be renovated and built, much to the detriment of OTHER more pressing and much needed services throughout the city from infrastructure to elder-care. Council should just vote NO to this unleashed rampaging beast, but that ain't gonna happen, is it fellas?

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-considers-paying-for-stadiums-with-unspent-1-billion/article1881605/

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By Mogadon Megalodon (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 09:44:16

From the Globe:

"The only problem with tapping into the P3 Canada Fund – managed by a Crown corporation and designed for projects with other governments and the private sector – is that the rules specifically forbid spending the money on facilities 'primarily' used for pro sports."

Hamilton does love deus ex machina financial solutions. But even aside from P3C rules, another problem is that public-private partnership by its nature involves private investment, something notably absent from the IWS picture.

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By Andrea (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 09:47:24

From the beginning I thought that one of the key reason Ivor Wynne was excluded as a facility was that one of the requirements for a stadium was that it had to be a new build. Should I assume that the City ran this new proposal (to rebuid half of an existing stadium) by Toronto 2015 to see if it meets the funding criteria?

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 09:57:37

An observation from the meeting yesterday. Rob Rossini said he has a KPMG audit for the Cats and that it confirms that the Bob Young's Cats have spent $30 million on the team. I remember being very interested that he did not say the Cats have lost $30 million, he was very specific in saying "spent".

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By highwater (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 10:15:52

I guess in Bob's world, any kind of investment in Hamilton is a de facto 'loss'. But he loves us. He really, really loves us.

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By R Don Lyres (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 10:23:38

Yes, 'spent'.

Not 'lost', not 'invested'.

Mr. Rossini, with an accounting background, knows the difference. He is not immune to spin, but he knows the difference.

Thank you, Mr. Janitor, for pointing this out.

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 10:50:51

How can the funding plan be partially dependent on a pro soccer team if Bob Young cannot guarantee that he will be able to launch a NASL team?

Come on, this whole process has been so open since the beginning!

I felt sick listening to Bratina talk yesterday. He thinks he's the mayor of the Ti-Cats. Although, it was nice to hear Farr kinda-sorta criticize the plan. Maybe he'll end up being more than a Young/Mitchell mouthpiece?

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By Andrea (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 10:58:06

Canada's Most Livable cities, as studied by UBC: http://money.ca.msn.com/banking/mortgage...

Will we ever make that list? Not when we focus on 'the mother of all unfocused priorities' (the first and last time I will quote Clr. Merulla LOL).

Among the results: Quebec City Fredericton, NB Guelph, ON Winnipeg, MB

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By Zephyr (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 11:40:58

My (latest) letter to council:

Apparently our mayor has now boiled the PanAm project goals down to “save the Ti-Cats” (apparently at any cost) and “no tax increases”. I suspect it is not his prerogative to change the PanAm strategy from a legacy of amateur sport with the Ti-Cats as only a “nice to have”, and I am certain that he cannot in honesty characterize this as “what the people of Hamilton want.”

Because I am a resident of Hamilton and I wanted more. I expected true leadership that would take a scarce resource, Future Fund and taxpayer dollars, and invest them in a way that would maximize our return on investment. We all know that stadiums do not traditionally offer return on investment, so we needed to be strategic and find a location that would allow us to kick-start private investment. We found that location in the WH. Waterfronts are destinations and forward-thinking cities are turning their waterfronts into urban playgrounds. That’s how to create livable cities where companies are willing to locate because their people actually want to live there.

I work in project management and consulting. In any well-run company there is a list of potential projects brought forward, and they look at both cost/benefit of said project and opportunity cost of choosing one project over another. The IWS rebuild comes at any incredibly high opportunity cost – the loss of any opportunity to remediate contaminated brownfields, loss of private development dollars in a high-demand area, and loss of a permanent velodrome facitility.

We are a city that has long been brimming with unfilled potential, and decisions and leadership like we witnessed last night is why that potential is never fulfilled. I urge councilors to say no to the IWS rebuild, even if the funding gap is somehow closed. It offers nothing but a very expensive status quo.

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By BeulahAve (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 11:52:01

Thanks, Zephyr, for putting into words my own feelings of disappointment at this latest twist in the saga.

Can someone post a breakdown of Council's vote? I can guess at it but would like to see how the 10-6 vote went exactly. I stopped listening at 4:30 and was then shocked to hear what happened after in terms of the vote.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 12:09:21

Clr Ferguson is on Bill Kelly trying to spin that there is no gap because IO has artificially inflated the costs

Is he not aware of the huge over-runs happening in TO right now with their PanAm facilities?

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 12:09:49

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 Zephyr (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 12:14:16

@Hammy - Thanks for the compliment...Eisenburger is a bright man. What happened to him? I believe that he is now the CEO of an urban planning group in TO (why do our best minds always have to go to Toronto?) Eisenburger has been completely vindicated in his belief that the WH offers the best opportunity for city-building and ROI for our PanAm dollars. Anyone with an ounce of financial literacy sees yesterday's presentation as a fairy tale -- and even with all the projections based on nothing, there still is not a business case there.

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By Zephyr (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 12:15:39

My unofficial recollection of the vote was that those against going forward on the IWS plan were:

  • all 3 lady councillors (sorry don't know all their names yet)
  • Russ Powers
  • Pastuta
  • Brad Clark

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted January 25, 2011 at 12:35:50

According to spec, "All of the suburban councillors except Lloyd Ferguson — Brad Clark, Maria Pearson, Brenda Johnson, Russ Powers, Robert Pasuta, and Judi Partridge — voted against the Ivor Wynne site."

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By ONE P!$$ED OFF FAN (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 12:52:30

Hammy,
I feel sorry for you bud, you seem to have the same mindset as Scott Mitchell where you think this is something where there's a winner and a loser. Unfortunately, we're all on the same team whether we like it or not, and that includes the Ticats, City Hall and all of us citizens. And now that we're ALL about to lose a tremendous opportunity to take a great community project which could have had serious lasting economic and community building and enhancing benefits for the whole city and are wasting it on a singularly focused plan with little to no economic spin-off benefits, and which will result in a drain on the public purse for years to come, I feel as though we're ALL losers in this. But by your comments and attitude on many of these comment boards, I can honestly say, you're the biggest loser of all! Congratulations...I guess...

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By Optimistic (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 12:57:48

The rate at which governments can borrow is pretty low....

http://www.tradingeconomics.com/Economics/Government-Bond-Yield.aspx?Symbol=CAD

Maybe instead of an either or situation, we should be looking at a Marshall plan for Hamilton. West Harbour cleanup, Ivor Wynne upgrade, etc.

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted January 25, 2011 at 13:45:31

Zephyr

Excellent commentary!

Opportunity cost is something on which the Councillors who voted for the IW "solution" need to reflect deeply.

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By Ezaki Glico (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 07:03:05

Has anyone ever considered that to individuals of a certain income bracket, that annual "losses" in the millions might actually be a net positive when it comes to filing taxes? Is it possible that losing money on the Cats is a break-even proposition for BY and that the investment will be recouped when/if he can sell a franchise with a brand new stadium, a platinum lease arrangement and a fanbase more jittery and dependent than Tim Hortons loyalists? Tax issues are not my forte, but maybe someone else can suggest some creative maths.

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By Mogadon Megalodon (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2011 at 09:22:06

Don't miss the coin toss!

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ottawa-considers-paying-for-stadiums-with-unspent-1-billion/article1881605

vs.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/bloc-to-tories-give-quebec-5-billion-or-lose-budget-support/article1883715

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