Special Report: Pan Am

Councillors to Province: Please Solve Our Problems

Last week, Ivor Wynne was offered up and accepted because it was cheaper, not because it was better. Now it's not even cheaper, so why is Council even considering it?

By Graham Crawford
Published January 25, 2011

In a show of almost unmanageable fiscal irresponsibility, the majority (10 out of 16) of our Councillors voted to pass the buck to two higher levels of government to avoid having to make the hard decision themselves. Funding gap? Oh, that's too hard to solve, so let's make it someone else's problem.

It was Councillor Lloyd Ferguson's idea, with Councillor Sam "No increase in the tax levy" Merulla as his seconder. Others lined up to support the jaw-dropping motion including, much to my surprise, Councillor Brian McHattie, although he did try valiantly to keep Plan B (West Harbour) on the table.

Instead, they voted to take Plan B off the table. They voted to spend $45 million from the Future Fund to rebuild half of IWS. They were told by the tag team of Chris Murray (City Manager) and Rob Rossini (CFO) that the cost to do so will leave a significant funding gap of approximately $38 million.

Council voted to let the Province and the Feds deal with that problem. They said: all we have is $45 million, you figure out how to make this work.

Why?

Vote Buying in Hamilton?

Well, first of all Lloyd Ferguson doesn't believe Infrastructure Ontario's numbers. He thinks they are at least 20% over-stated. I don't think he's entirely misguided on this, but it does cause me to wonder why he believes the Tiger Cat's numbers. I don't. And he shouldn't.

Secondly, Council believes the Province, and they hope the Feds, will close the funding gap for them. It's an election year, after all. Council seems to think the McGuinty Liberals are prepared to buy votes in Hamilton.

The problem is, it just might work. It's just possible the Liberals will end up rewarding the fiscally irresponsible behaviour of both Council and the Tiger-Cats.

Council dithers and the Ticats claw away any credibility and goodwill they have left, and McGuinty, Aggelonitis and McMeekin all say, "No problem. That's what we're here for."

While some might see the Liberal government stepping in to decide the IWS versus WH debate akin to the Judgment of Solomon, I think it's erroneous to view the choices as equal. They're not, especially if your rich uncle is prepared to foot the bill when you're unable, or unwilling, to make the tough decision yourself.

Nothing Changes

By channeling all of the money into the existing IWS site, you simply have to ask yourself: what will be different when it's finished? Sure, the seats will now have backs, and the luxury boxes will be more luxurious, but what will change really?

Access problems don't change. Visibility doesn't change. Noise violations don't change. Concerts will still be banned. Why would we believe the economic spin-off would change because of new seats?

Are we to believe that backless bench seats are the cause of the Ti-Cat's financial woes? Really? I thought this was the best stadium in the CFL in which to watch a game.

For me, its back to the leveraging critical mass argument I put forward in an earlier article on RTH. There isn't any critical mass on which to build at the IWS site, nor in the surrounding neighbourhood. Sorry, but economically speaking, it just isn't there.

Details, Details

What will be different is that the Brian Timmis stadium will be demolished to provide parking, which the Ticats have insisted be under their control for game day.

When asked by a Councillor if the Vanier Cup was considered a "game day", City staff hesitated and said yes, probably.

So, what's the definition of "game day"? Seems we haven't figured that detail out either. In fact, we haven't figured out almost any of the details. "Still working on it," say Murray and Rossini. I think we're supposed to be comforted by that. I'm not.

Apparently, we are 22 soccer pitches behind the identified need in Hamilton at the moment. We're about to increase that number to 23 by removing the Timmis site and replacing it with parking for the Cats. City staff say it will cost $2.5 million to construct Timmis' equal, not accounting for the land on which it would be built.

Where else does the City of Hamilton own enough land in Ward 3 for such a soccer pitch? If we don't own any, how much will it cost to acquire it?

Another Community Stadium

Bob Bratina, when asked about the scalable stadium idea in the WH, responded with a question, 'Do you really think the City of Hamilton needs another 5,000 seat community stadium?"

Am I to conclude the Mayor thinks we don't even need the number we have right now? So Bob, does one less make for a better city? In a Ward that everybody says needs all the recreational space it can get? It seems as if it makes it better for the Ticats.

Some Councillors suggested doing some fundraising to build a Timmis replacement. Conclusion? When the adults can't figure out how to solve the problem, get the kids to go cap in hand to raise their own money, one loonie at a time, to replace their stadium you chose to bulldoze.

You gotta love it, don't you? Otherwise, you'd go mad.

One-Shot Endowment

Here's another important thing that will be different. We will have exhausted our Future Fund contribution, as well as a few not insignificant financial favours from the Province, and possibly the Feds, for a stadium on a site that would never be selected if the IW lot was an empty one right now.

No one in their right mind would select the footprint on which we will spend more than $160 million on behalf of a new stadium. There is no attractive, nor available, land on which to develop new residential - or commercial/retail that would support the residential, for that matter. Absolutely none.

Perhaps the Councillors who voted for the IWS re-build, and the provincial Liberals who may fund the shortfall, don't understand city building? Or maximizing ROI? Or legacy building? Or the domino effect?

Well, they do seem to understand football. And football teams. And football team owners and their needs.

Seniors' Centre

Also, what will be different is there will be no senior's centre on the site. Bernie Morelli ensures he gets on the record that he still wants his senior's centre for Ward 3, even though the stadium makes that unlikely.

I guess he did this so he can feature his statement in his Ward 3 newsletter and say that he hasn't forgotten the seniors.

Can you say pandering? He has no hope of delivering.

So, how does the senior's centre get funded? Where do they build it, because the land that was allocated for it is no longer available?

Will we simply buy some land using all that extra money we have? Oh, that's right, we don't have any extra money. Perhaps the seniors could partner with the kids and do their own fundraising.

Good Questions, Bad Questions

Want to talk money, just talk to Sam Merulla. Apparently he knows everything about finances. Just listen to him talk, which would be a courtesy you'd be extending to him that he rarely extends to his own colleagues.

And Tom Jackson, may I suggest that you stop listening to Merulla and pay attention to your colleagues?

And Chad Collins, if you're going to take on the role of Deputy Mayor and run a meeting, then run the meeting! Pay attention to people like Merulla, whose behaviour would not be tolerated at any of the thousands of business meetings I have attended in my career.

But I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge the good work done by a number of Councillors who asked well-considered, intelligent and often direct questions.

Brad Clark is the poster child for fiscal sanity. Thank you. Likewise, Brenda Johnston, Judi Partridge and Scott Duvall. Good work. No grandstanding, just penetrating questions.

They did not let the Cats off the hook, which many others did - including Jason Farr, Tom Jackson and Bob Bratina, to name a few.

Two Goals?

Mayor Bratina states there are two key goals in this debate: save the Ticats and don't increase taxes. If this is his idea of multitasking, Houston we have a problem. A big problem.

If these are the criteria with which our Mayor determined how we should spend $160 million, then God help us all. Simplistic doesn't come close to describing this approach to building a city.

He can wax poetic all he wants about the ex-Ticats he knew, drank with and loved, and share his memories of great games at which he did the play-by-play announcing. But he should hold himself to a higher, and dare I say more complex, standard now that he's Mayor.

Where Are the Ticats?

Speaking of the Ticats, exactly who on their team made the decision to ask for $18 million from the citizens of Hamilton over and above the $45 million we were already spending? Build them an office building on the stadium site? Honestly?

But hey, they added an addendum saying it was all a big mistake, so that makes it OK. I guess they think it never hurts to ask. It does, boys, it does. And you have asked too many times for way too many things.

Not only that, but you continue to confuse with your announcements. Take a look at this quotation from Chairman Bob at the Two Bobs news conference:

What is the corporate support for whatever stadium solution we have? I'm really excited to announce that our corporate sponsors of the Ticats have stepped up in a significant way. Molson/Coors Canada, Tim Horton's and Primus have made major new financial commitments towards keeping the Ticats in Hamilton and making this new stadium, in the old Civic Stadium neighbourhood, a possibility for us. So we are very excited. We believe that this will put the Ticats on firm financial footing going into the future.

What happened between the news conference on January 11 and the GIC meeting on January 24? No investment in the stadium by the sponsors - only, one must conclude, in the Ticats.

What was the purpose of Young's statement? Of what interest is it to taxpayers that Tim Horton's is going to pay more for their sponsorship of the Cats? Unless, of course, it means ticket prices won't need to go up?

The nonsense continues and hilarity most certainly does not ensue.

Tax Levy

So, we spend $160 million to rebuild half a stadium and we still can't generate money in our facility from concerts. What kind of planning is that? What kind of bold new venture is that?

We spend $10 million from who knows where for land in the WH. I thought it was from the Future Fund, but apparently, and obviously conveniently for certain Councillors, I'm wrong.

I guess we should ask Sam Merulla exactly how he thinks we're going to pay off the $10 million. Certainly not through an increase in the tax levy if he has anything to say about it. No, sir.

So Sam, how do you propose we reduce the City's budget by $10 million so there will be no increase in the tax levy to pay for the WH lands?

Will this be before or after we build another soccer pitch to replace Brian Timmis stadium in Ward 3? Help us see what you see, Sam. I promise, if you talk, I'll listen.

No new taxes is the gold standard used by too many, but mercifully not all, Councillors. Not, here are my ideas to help reduce taxes. Not, let's be sure we maximize our ROI. No, simply being able to say to taxpayers in your Ward, "Hey, I held the line on your taxes. Please reward accordingly."

No taxes. No vision. No difference. No wonder we're in the shape we're in.

Not Cheaper, Not Better

Last week, Ivor Wynne was offered up and accepted because it was cheaper, not because it was better. Everybody, including the two Bobs and the "win at all costs" Scott Mitchell, said so.

According to City staff, it will cost the same to build a new stadium at IW as it will building a new stadium in the WH on land we also own.

Why, if we are playing poker with the Provincial government, would we not ask them for money to close the funding gap in the West Harbour? Because the Ticats still don't want to play there? As far as I'm concerned, the Cats have lost all credibility. The facts are on my side on this one.

If there is no difference in the amount we spend, then I say let's spend it where it makes most economic sense to do so. Let's use the money as a catalytic investment to trigger more investment from more people - investment that builds on our existing critical mass, not on imagined future critical mass.

As much as it pains me to say this, I worry that not doing so will result simply in having a major league sports team in a minor league city.

People who know me know I'm a Hamilton booster of the first rank. But, this kind of irresponsible fiscal behaviour and remarkably short-sighted thinking on the part of the majority of Councillors makes it very difficult to be a booster some days in this city. This is another one of those days.

Graham Crawford was raised in Hamilton, moving to Toronto in 1980 where he spent 25 years as the owner of a successful management consulting firm that he sold in 2000. He retired and moved back to Hamilton in 2005 and became involved in heritage and neighbourhood issues. He opened Hamilton HIStory + HERitage on James North in 2007, a multi-media exhibition space (aka a storefront museum) celebrating the lives of the men and women who have helped to shape the City of Hamilton.

102 Comments

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By Sanity (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 14:35:17

Excellent article - This thing isn't over yet. I hope sanity prevails!

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By Thanks (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 14:44:23

Great post!!!

The key point here is, "According to City staff, it will cost the same to build a new stadium at IW as it will building a new stadium in the WH on land we also own. Why, if we are playing poker with the Provincial government, would we not ask them for money to close the funding gap in the West Harbour?"

On top of this, have staff calculated what the on-going maintenance costs of the north stands are going to be at IW? They will be 40 years old from the start and will need to be replaced at some point soon - who pays for that?

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By Andrea (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 14:53:05

Another brilliant summary, Graham! Thanks for being so much more articulate than I.

Lipstick on pig. In another thread I likened this to spending $65,000 on a new kitchen in a 2 bedroom bungalow. Not likely to get a lot of return on that investment either.

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By Zephyr (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 15:09:25

Brilliant article.

I suggest everyone write to our provincial MPPs and urge them NOT to close the funding gap... here is my letter:

To: Hamilton MPPs

I am writing you in regards to the on-going PanAm stadium issue in Hamilton. I was in attendance at our city council meeting last night where our City Manager was directed to continue to negotiate with the provincial government in an attempt to close the funding gap for the Ivor Wynne Stadium renovation.

At this meeting Mayor Bob Bratina stated that the residents of Hamilton want council to “Save the Ti-Cats” and “not raise taxes.”

But many Hamiltonians want to see leadership and new vision for this city and hoped the PanAm funding would be a galvanizing force in our downtown. There are thousands of Hamiltonians who have been actively, passionately involved in this stadium debate. Not because of the Ti-cats. But because we believe this community can be so much more than it is. And we saw the leveraging of our city’s Future Fund plus provincial and federal tax dollars as a way to create both a PanAm legacy of high-performance and community amateur athletics, as well as to kickstart private investment in the West Harbour.

Unfortunately the IWS renovation comes at the opportunity cost of remediating a brownfield site in a prime development area of our city, of securing a permanent velodrome, and of leaving an amateur athletics legacy for our city. In short, it fails both the city-building criteria for spending Future Fund dollars, as well as the PanAm amateur athletics legacy criteria.

In fact, there is no discernible ROI on the money that will be invested in this project whatsoever, as well as very shaky economic projections due to the last-minute nature of negotiations.

If the provincial government is tempted to close the funding gap the IWS reno is experiencing in an attempt to please Hamiltonians, I think it will be a fail on your part. The public relations of the Ti-Cats with this community are at an all-time low, and I suspect the vast majority of Hamiltonians are not willing to keep the Ti-Cats here at any cost.

I do not want my tax dollars spent to provide additional sources of revenue to a private, money-losing business.

Kind regards -Andrea

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By Zephyr (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 15:14:40

Here's the email distribution for our local MPPs (McGuinty's office requires a web form or a fax)...

tmcmeekin.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org; saggelonitis.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org; ahowarth-qp@ndp.on.ca; pmiller-qp@ndp.on.ca

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By Participant (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 15:23:50

Graham, thanks for giving voice in such a reasoned and well-argued fashion to my own feelings of disgust and discouragement regarding Council's continuing lack of principle and integrity on this file.
Has no one at 71 Main heard that there is only one taxpayer? I will be clearly advising my MPP that it is not her job to clean up the City's financial messes. As for my Councillor: Young's brown-nosed acolyte Tom stopped replying to our messages months ago.
Who in Hamilton would have thought 10 years ago that our suburban representatives would come to represent the voice of sanity in the new City? A sincere thank you to Clark, Partridge, Johnson and Pasuta. (Not forgetting Mr. Duvall).
They say we get the government we deserve. What the hell have we done to deserve this?

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By George (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 15:26:13

This is what resonated with me most:

... its back to the leveraging critical mass argument I put forward in an earlier article on RTH. There isn't any critical mass on which to build at the IWS site, nor in the surrounding neighbourhood. Sorry, but economically speaking, it just isn't there.

And in regards to the contribution from Molson-Coors, Primus and Tim Hortons, there is this statemant from the Tiger-Cats

Please read the following from Jim Edmands, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for the Tiger-Cats: (bolded emphasis is mine)

Through the hard work of the Mayor and Bob Young, the team, the stadium and the Pan Am games are hopefully going to stay in Hamilton. The commitment by our partners was directly to the Ticats and was part of the formula that ensured the team stayed in Hamilton. These partners see a value in their investment in the Tiger-Cats brand. As Bob Young will have to continue to invest millions of dollars in the Tiger-Cats franchise before we could possibly move into a new stadium, these partners are doing their part to ensure they not only get great value from their investment in the brand, but that they help ensure the Tiger-Cats have a viable business case in order to get to the new stadium. Furthermore, without all of our corporate partners, there would be no Hamilton Tiger-Cats franchise. That's how important our partners are to our viability.

Alex Campbell Coordinator, Marketing Hamilton Tiger-Cats Football Club acampbell@ticats.ca

http://forums.ticats.ca/viewtopic.php?f=...

Comment edited by George on 2011-01-25 15:27:34

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By realfreeenterpriser (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 15:49:52

Great post!

It never ceases to amaze me that, somehow, Members of Council, most notably Bratina, maintain that spending Future Fund money doesn't raise taxes. Of course it does! All, or most, of the things that the Future Fund could have been spent on will still occur and be paid for with taxes.

On that note, where are all the right-wing windbags, like Foxcroft et al, who constantly whine that "there's only one taxpayer"? I guess that's not the case when the money's going to one of their own.

Comment edited by realfreeenterpriser on 2011-01-25 16:26:49

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By Mogadon Megalodon (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 15:55:15

It would be a sweet twist if the upper two levels of government forced the City of Hamilton to pony up the promised-but-never-delivered $35m for Randle Reef and set that long-overdue project in motion before releasing dime one of additional stadium spending. Admittedly, RR's economic spinoff has only been estimated at $1 billion. What's the ROI on IWS 2.0 again?

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 16:13:20

Mayor Bratina and Councilor Whitehead,

I have tried to look at this from all different angles to perhaps see why this ‘deal’ to renovate Ivor Wynne is the best way to go for the future of HAMILTON. And truthfully I cannot figure this out. We citizens have spent millions already in acquiring land and remediation in the West Harbour for years and if Ivor Wynne is truly the best site to put this Pan Am stadium then fine but what about the money already spent in the West Harbour? How can we afford to sit on this land indefinitely? PLEASE tell me there is a plan, a feasible, workable plan in the near future for getting the West Harbour cleaned up and properly developed, otherwise stated; I need you to justify abandoning the investment already made in one area over the course of previous years and moving ALL of the slated funding to another area?
Having asked that, since this supposed deal is going to cost us everything we have shouldn’t we, as a city in the very least have bargained for partial ownership in these Tiger-Cats that we are so heavily funding? At least with part ownership there would be a slight chance of a return on our investment because I know we would never build a stadium for a corporation that constantly loses money – that would be downright absurd now wouldn’t it? Now, I fully admit in the last two weeks since the Ivor Wynne renovations was proposed I have asked both of you these same questions but my problem is my frustration I have encountered that neither of you have even tried to provide me with any type of answer to these questions I pose and I would greatly appreciate an answer from my elected representatives in a timely manner. In fact, I demand this from both of you. This is the future of my city for my children we are talking about, and I think it a tad important to know the reasoning behind such an enormous decision other than ‘saving an historic football team’.

Looking forward to BOTH of you responding.

Yours Truly,

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By seeyousoon (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 16:31:01

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 16:31:40

Please don't feed the trolls. Downvote and move on.

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By Steve (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 16:40:22

Graham,

I've yet to see anything that would suggest the proposed Seniors Centre being planned for the IWS site. Everything publically released (not much) has stated Scott Park. So your argument around that refurbing IWS has no impact on the proposed centre.

http://www.hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/8717...

"The 2010-2019 capital budget forecast included submission for approval in principle of a Scott Park Arena Refurbishing/New Senior Centre. The project is described as a large centre similar to Sackville to serve the seniors in Lower Hamilton and to refurbish Scott Park Arena. The senior centre will include a gymnasium, activity and program rooms. The project as submitted totals a projected $12 million, $1.2 million in 2011 for design costs, and a further $10.8 million in 2012 to support construction. As the budgeted discretionary capital forecast, as presented on page 4 of this report, identifies that the total forecast Recreation allocation represents an average of $9 million annually, there is limited capacity to allocate all funding in 2012 to this one project."

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 17:00:24

Steve, this may prove to be incorrect, but I remember people saying Scott Park would become part of the "Stadium Precinct."

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By George (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 17:05:04

From pages 2 and 3 of the city report

The Pan Am Stadium affords a significant opportunity to invest not only in a new stadium, but to make a broader health and wellness legacy investment that can provide long term social, health and wellness benefits to residents in the immediate neighbourhoods and the lower Hamilton community. It would be prudent to review the entire Scott Park precinct within the context of the recreation planning area and prepare a community recreation master plan, as well as looking at an artificial soccer field replacement being built within the north central area to replace the loss of the Brian Timmis facility

Comment edited by George on 2011-01-25 17:05:26

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By Scott (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 17:19:55

It is saddening to me that Mr Crawford thinks WH is more deserving than the east end. Please don't be so parochial because we are one city and this will do wonders for my neighborhood.


Scott

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By Bob (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 17:25:05

Scott - This isn't about WH being more deserving than the east end - it's about return on our future fund investment that will provide more tax revenues that will help the whole city. In fact, the WH stadium plan included a plan for redevelopment of the IW precinct with community uses. The IW2 plan doesn't provide anything for the WH neighbourhood and doesn't increase the tax base. We basically end up with exactly what we have now minus our future fund.

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By scott (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 17:32:50

Bob:

We end up with a brand new stadium and an upgraded precinct with Scott Park. I'm a grade 12 student and we talked about this as an opportunity for revitalization and talked the code red issues in the paper. It is a great opportunity not nothing. It will clean up the entire area and with the new school that was built it will be a enhancement.

Scott

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 25, 2011 at 17:39:19

Okay folks, new comment policy. If a comment has the following:

  • Anonymous;
  • Consists entirely of a personal insult; and
  • Has no other content or redeeming qualities,

It will be treated as spam and deleted.

I will not have this forum descend into empty vulgarity. I'll post a more formal update in a blog later tonight.

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By George (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 17:40:49

Clean up the entire area

What entire area?

Refurbished IWS and that's about it.

A shinier status quo in which the city and Tiger-cats will continue to lose money at an ill-located stadium where no concerts can be held.

Sure we're leveraging money, but to do what exactly?

It's not even worth the 45m FF investment.

We've got to think big.

With a WH stadium, IWS will be sold and cleaned up anyway.

Comment edited by George on 2011-01-25 18:33:15

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 17:43:22

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By d.knox (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 17:51:32

Brian McHattie said something several weeks ago, about something being afoot with the back room powers that be, and that he no longer felt confident about how this thing might turn out. Then Ian Troop, Mr. No means No, is suddenly willing to accept a refurbishment where before it was a new facility only policy.

I fear we were doomed from the start, and the only startling thing is that we managed to thwart the driveway to driveway experience in any way. I feel like I'm driving by a horrible accident and I don't even want to open my eyes anymore.

On the bright side, I'm currently stitching up a fetching voodoo doll. Just have to figure out how to get me some chicken blood, learn a little voodoo, and I should have this thing under control soon... once I figure out whom it is I actually need to poke. (Ugh, who/whom?..damn. I'm going with whom, relative pronoun that starts a subordinate clause)

Comment edited by d.knox on 2011-01-25 18:07:25

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By Steve (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 18:02:47

@Bob, Please show me one official mention of redevelopment of the IW site. I don't recall one and don't believe one ever existed. If one did please produce or stop spreading falsities.

@mrgrande, I believe recreation facilities would still be on tap for Scott Park. Keeping in mind at current the school is currently privately owned.

@George, Hamilton and it's developers in our neighbourhoods have a poor record of proceeding with most re-developments, so claiming WH would lead to the cleaning up of the IW site, is not based in fact.

Scott, I'm with you.

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By ONE P!$$ED OFF FAN (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 18:12:13

Scott,
Unfortunately, from an overall business case, it is far inferior to the west harbour for many reasons. First is the clean up of a brownfield. Secondly, it creates a catalyst for higher density development in the downtown core. If you've followed the coverage throughout this whole ordeal, there has been significant interest from the private sector to develop around a west harbour stadium, regardless of what the Ticats have tried to spin.

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/241902--developers-upbeat-about-west-harbour-stadium-site

I'm glad to hear that our young people such as yourself are becoming engaged in civic politics like this. One of the reasons its so important to create this critical mass of high density urban development in our downtown is that we have a better chance or retaining people such as yourself in a few years when you graduate from university, college or are comfortably working in your career of choice. Because of shifting demographics over the last few decades, the age at which young post-secondary graduates start looking at starting families and buying in the suburbs has changed drastically. Here in Hamilton, we don't have the downtown development market ie. High-rise Condos to retain this young demographic and it has been detrimental to our city's overall health. Unfortunately, the Ticats don't seem to understand that without keeping this demographic local, their future success is also jeopardized. The Ticats have by far the oldest fanbase in the CFL and are in desperate need of replenishing the fanbase with the 18-35 demographic.

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/271346--stadiums-generate-wealth-for-inner-cities-expert

This will have a lasting impact not only our city, and its ability to keep our young people, but also on our ability to attract companies to relocate here as well.

Higher density development also makes attracting businesses into neighbourhoods easier. The difference between the two sites is that West Harbour is an old industrial site with room for this type of development growth, while the Ivor Wynne site is a well entrenched residential neighbourhood without much room for the type of development that would create the critical mass that will make the stadium investment an economic engine for the area. By significantly increasing our tax base with this high density development that the stadium project can be a catalyst for, our city would be in a better financial position to invest in neighbourhoods across the city. Without that catalyst, the money invested in the Ivor Wynne rebuild stays in that neighbourhood, without the spinoff benefits for the rest of the city. Its also better planning when you can cluster many of your recreation/hospitality/cultural/retail into your downtown core. Its good for hotels, restaurants, retail stores, and other tourist friendly industries, and makes hosting conventions, expos, and other events more attractive to those from outside Hamilton who are looking to book these types of events. The West Harbour site can also help in attracting investment in other city building initiatives such as the west harbour recreation plan. Add to that the significant investment the city can expect for all day GO Train, and LRT.

This stadium debate should never have become an issue of neighbourhood vs. neighbourhood. Its really a case of what plan has the best chance of being good for all of our neighbourhoods.

Cheers Scott

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By JMorse (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 18:34:09

This just went to the Hamilton MPPs:

Good evening,

I'm sure you're all aware of the stadium decision issue in Hamilton. As a resident I'd like to point out that the majority of Hamilton residents may not agree with our new mayor's stated priorities of keeping the Tiger-Cats in Hamilton and not raising taxes.

The current proposal sees almost all of Hamilton's contribution as well as much funding from the provincial and federal governments going to the stadium alone. The proposal does not meet the Pan Am terms for a site, not least of which is the requirement of a fully funded plan.

The Ivor Wynne plan is not in the best interest of Hamilton. The return on investment is minimal, if even guaranteed. It will simply keep things as they are. A pro sports team will remain as a burden on a city struggling to come back to life. This level of investment would be better suited to wisely placed diverse projects, which the Pan Am games could be a part of, as it had promised to be.

Any pro sports team is a minor partner in the fortunes of a city. Unfortunately the decision process has been unduly influenced by both the team and the requirements and comments of our higher level government partners in this project. It appears as though we're all about to divert more funding than has ever been on the table simply to satisfy the needs of the Tiger-Cats, who themselves have not committed a dime to the stadium's capital costs.

Some suggest the funding gap will be bridged by the provincial and federal governments as this is an election year. This would serve to only further injure and offend a community that has been torn apart and forced to put on hold important issues that deserve our city council's attention.

It would be a terrible disappointment to see this grand opportunity for investment squandered so carelessly. I would rather see Hamilton use it's small portion used for a project we had complete control over.

I urge you not to allow this plan to go ahead as it stands now. A smaller, scalable stadium and permanent velodrome at the West Harbour will allow Hamilton to participate in the games and expand rather than reduce community facilities in the Ivor Wynne area. This would be the legacy that was presented as the spirit of the games. It's time to end your silence. Speak out against funding the Ivor Wynne plan.

Thank you,

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By that much money for football? (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 18:35:07

Ya know this is just an all round bad investment. That money invested into Copps would create a start-of-the art building just waiting for a NHL team.

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By Bob (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 19:04:36

Steve,

I encourage you to read the Deloitte business plan that accompanied one of the earlier staff reports on this issue. They factor in development of IW as part of overall plan for a WH stadium redevelopment including the amounts of tax assessment increase that could be expected. This was after consultation with the development industry and really show a well rounded approach to redevelopment of both the WH and IW sites. That was the whole point of a reasoned, rationale approach that wasn't rushed to council at the last minute. The IW2 plan is all about spending the money now, and figuring out the benefits and overall plan later. It's lunacy.

Bob

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 20:59:35

I also wrote a letter to my MPP expressing my disapproval of any extra tax funding for this flawed plan. I was tired and frustrated when I wrote it, so I'll spare everyone. I just wanted to say thanks again to Graham for putting things in perspective.

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

@Bob, So, no "plan" for development, just a consultant report on the "issue". That is hardly a plan, especially when viewed against the poor developer records in our historic city areas.

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By Sacrosanct (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 22:05:07

Dear Premier McGuinty,

Hamilton is in the throes of shooting itself in the foot. How many times have we seen our local politicians squander golden opportunities to turn our city around? Too many to count. I know you have tried to assist. Some of us have doubted your sincerity and have attributed political motives to your insistence that Hamilton be helped. I, for one, apologize for the ingratitude. And I, for one, regret our local polticians' ineptitude.

Mr. Premier, we are at a crossroads again. We are in danger of making a very bad situation even worse. Two years ago Council, led by a deluded muncipal leader, sowed the seeds of failure in not selecting the best place to build a new stadium for the city. This seminal error was followed by mistake after mistake, leading to a municipal election that saw the electorate punish the former leader with a resounding defeat.

Who would have thought that the new Mayor would make matters even worse? In a show of defiance and pique, this new leader has contributed nothing to the debate for a final site selection, other than erratic decision-making. He cited several areas to explore, settling on the worst possible solution for a refurbished half stadium costing twice the expected amount of money. In a final bout of ingratitude, this new municipal leader did not want to spend even 'two minutes' discussing the merits of refurbishing Ivor Wynne Stadium. He wanted his council to approve the half-baked, half-funded plan and defied the provincial authorities to turn down his wish, surmising that it won't happen for fear of political backlash against the province.

Mr. Premier, don't be intimidated by the bravado. Hamiltonians will not punish the province for local ineffectiveness. We will bide our time and we will turn on the local councillors for having led us down an expensive garden path.

Premier, as one single solitary voter, I ask you to do the due diligence we have not done. If your office deems that a stadium at the IWS location will do the city proud, then help build it with the money available thus far. If you think we are beyond salvage, just turn away. Find a more grateful community to assist and leave us to wallow in our own misery.

A sad citizen.

c.c. all local MPP's

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 22:28:38

Excellent article, Graham. Thanks.

A few additional random observations:

The potential risks of this $156.5 Million investment are concerning:

  1. The Tiger-Cats are only guaranteeing three years of the twenty year lease. The City of Hamilton could be stuck with a huge unusable stadium if the Tiger-Cats fold or move elsewhere some time between years four and year twenty of the lease. It is incumbent upon Hamilton city council to protect the Hamilton taxpayers from a Glendale, Arizona scenario.

  2. The United States Soccer Federation Division 2, comprised of teams in the NASL and the USL, had an average attendance of 4,459 in 2010. http://www.football-lineups.com/tourn/US... The NASL soccer team contemplated by Bob Young would actually be a better fit with a better atmosphere in a 6,000 seat scalable stadium than it would in a refurbished 25,000 seat Ivor Wynne stadium. A Major League Soccer franchise seems unlikely for Hamilton as neither Mr. Young nor anyone else have expressed an interest in paying the $40 Million expansion fee.

3.Concerts are unlikely at the new Ivor Wynne Stadium due to the proximity of residential neighbourhoods. Also, the city staff report noted that it would be necessary to incur additional costs in constructing "life safety and performance requirements" (i.e. sprinklers, fire alarms, emergency lighting, etc.) in the new Ivor Wynne Stadium if there is a "change of use" to a multi-use stadium to accommodate concerts and the amount of those additional costs are not addressed in the city staff report. (See page 9 of the city staff report). http://raisethehammer.org/static/images/...

The City of Hamilton therefore proposes to build a $156.5 Million facility of a size that only the Tiger-Cats need for ten games per year for the foreseeable future. Interestingly, the Tiger-Cats already have a 29,000 seat stadium, namely, the existing Ivor Wynne Stadium. If the Tiger-Cats just keeping playing at the existing Ivor Wynne Stadium, the city won't have to incur those $7 Million per year Ticat relocation expenses during the 2012 and 2013 football seasons. Instead, incremental improvements can be made to the stadium when the city has the funds to do so.

Comment edited by RenaissanceWatcher on 2011-01-25 22:38:09

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 22:48:05

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By George (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 22:58:32

Hamilton, the report says, currently has 22 fewer soccer fields than it should. This is before Brian Timmis Stadium — the pitch adjacent to Ivor Wynne which is considered one of the better ones in town — gets obliterated if the proposed renovation plan goes ahead.

...Because of the shortages, he says many fields are overused to the point where they’re worn out.

... it’s worthwhile remembering that with 28,000 registered players in the area — almost all who have immediate or extended family members physically or emotionally involved — this issue hits home to a huge percentage of the population.

http://www.thespec.com/sports/article/47...

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By George (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 23:06:13

http://www.thespec.com/opinion/columns/a...

After 18 months of gun smoke and horse apples, city council is winding up the punch-drunk Pan Am trail drive by asking the province to ride to the rescue.

Remarkably, they may even get it done, thanks in large part to City Manager Chris Murray, who spent a good portion of the weekend bending the ear of Premier Dalton McGuinty’s chief of staff.

Murray isn’t going so far as to say he’s confident the provincial government will bridge the $38.6 million funding gap for rebuilding and retrofitting Ivor Wynne.

But he says he’s received a “financial commitment” from the province to cover at least some of the shortfall.

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By mb (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 23:07:12

This just went to the Hamilton MPPs:

Good evening,

I'm sure you're all aware of the stadium decision issue in Hamilton. As a resident I'd like to point out that the majority of Hamilton residents (although I have no proof that is a majority), may not agree with our new mayor's stated priorities of keeping the Tiger-Cats in Hamilton and not raising taxes.

The current proposal sees almost all of Hamilton's contribution as well as much funding from the provincial and federal governments going to the stadium alone. The proposal does not meet the Pan Am terms for a site, although I guess we should let HostCO be the judge of that.

The Ivor Wynne plan is not in the best interest of Hamilton, IMHO. The return on investment is minimal, if even guaranteed. It will simply keep things as they are. A pro sports team will remain as a burden on a city struggling to come back to life. This level of investment would be better suited to wisely placed diverse projects, which the Pan Am games could be a part of, as it had promised to be.

Any pro sports team is a minor partner in the fortunes of a city. Unfortunately the decision process has been unduly influenced by both the team and the requirements and comments of our higher level government partners in this project. It appears as though we're all about to divert more funding than has ever been on the table simply to satisfy the needs of the Tiger-Cats, who themselves have not committed a dime to the stadium's capital costs.

Some suggest the funding gap will be bridged by the provincial and federal governments as this is an election year. This would serve to only further injure and offend a community that has been torn apart and forced to put on hold important issues that deserve our city council's attention.

It would be a terrible disappointment to see this grand opportunity for investment squandered so carelessly. I would rather see Hamilton use it's small portion used for a project we had complete control over.

I urge you not to allow this plan to go ahead as it stands now. A smaller, scalable stadium even though we have 3 in the city already, and permanent velodrome at the West Harbour will allow Hamilton to participate in the games and expand rather than reduce community facilities in the Ivor Wynne area. This would be the legacy that was presented as the spirit of the games. It's time to end your silence. Speak out against funding the Ivor Wynne plan.

Thank you,

Fixed it for you

Comment edited by mb on 2011-01-25 23:15:10

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By Enterprise (registered) | Posted January 25, 2011 at 23:19:27

Beautifully written, Graham. Wordsmithing at it's best. I watched/listened to Joey's video while working on quotes/deadlines. At the end of the day, as I stared at my screen, all I could come up with was: WTF?...

Obviously the whole afternoon was a waste of everyone's time...yours, mine, council's...the back room deal was already in place.

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By sbwoodside (registered) - website | Posted January 26, 2011 at 00:04:39

Great article. I couldn't believe what was going on in that council meeting. I can't believe McHattie went along with it.

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By geoff's two cents (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 00:50:08

The consensus in comments on the Spec's website concerning the stadium debacle (and the use of FF dollars for a non-city-building purpose) is remarkably similar to the emerging consensus here, and mainstream coverage of the stadium debacle is likewise souring toward the Cats' lack of a significant financial contribution and the sheer amount of money this whole operation will ultimately require. One question: Given the ever-shrinking public approval ratings, why is Bratina so fixated on appeasing the Cats at any cost?

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By streamman (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 01:15:14

To: Dalton McGuinty – Premier of Ontario JANUARY 26, 2010 David Sweet – MP - ADFW Ted McMeekin MPP - ADFW Sophia Aggelonitis - MPP – Hamilton Mountain Bob Bratina – Mayor City of Hamilton Robert Pasuta – Alderman Ward 14 Kevin Gaudet – Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Re: PanAm stadium issue in Hamilton I am writing this letter to request that no additional funding be committed by the Province of Ontario or by the Federal Government to bridge the forecasted funding gap to renovate Ivor Wynne Stadium. Since I spent the first 23 years of my life living 2 blocks away from IWS I can assure you rebuilding the stadium at this location is a complete waste of money and resources. As you are aware Canadians and Hamiltonians are experiencing very difficult economic conditions. The reality is that we have no more money to give you to spend. The Province, Feds, and City of Hamilton have already committed about $115M to this stadium. It is my opinion that any funding gap needs to be made up by the CFL / Hamilton Tiger Cats. I am also very disturbed by the tactics that the Hamilton Tiger Cats have been using to leverage tax payers money to benefit their business. Based on the comments that I have seen from the numerous articles that have been written about this issue my opinion represents the majority. With election(s) looming it is safe to say that I will be taking into account the outcome of this issue when I cast my vote. Thank you for taking the time to read my letter and I hope you will take my view into consideration when making a final decision. Best Regards, Ward 14 Hamilton

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By d.knox (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 01:27:52

Hi Ryan: Here's another suggestion. Just add an area where people can go to scream. Maybe link it, maybe not. Just make it linkable, and let us scream.

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By Dadeo (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 07:48:26

Scrap the Pan Am Games, build the senior centre. Sam Murella for Mayor

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By Billy M (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 07:49:39

I believe Merulla put it best when he said be careful what you wish for. He has been bang on from the beginning and he warned everyone that this would be the biggest mistake in the history of this city. There was never a confirmed plan just empty promises seen through rose coloured glasses and Merulla called it. The unfortunate thing is he keeps reminding us how right he was.

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By Mogadon Megalodon (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 08:24:54

So we fault IO math and yet go to the province cap in hand asking them to more than double their contribution to the stadium ($35m + $39m)? Is that considered impolite? (I ask because I haven't been dependent on allowance for decades and have no idea what the current thinking is.)

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By McHattieSellout (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 08:28:44

Am I the only one who noticed that McHattie sold us out by supporting the IWS misadventure?

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By MattM (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 08:40:33

Scrap the Pan Am Games, build the senior centre. Sam Murella for Mayor

I am sure his first order of business would be to turn Jackson Square into "The Centre on James" and big box that entire block.

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 11:19:21

Yesterday (above) i published the letter I wrote to the mayor and my councillor. Of course Whitehead didn't back to me yet (big surprise) but the mayor's office sure did, a few times. You tell me, to me his initial response was unbelieveable! Then i went and offended the poor man... His email starts by pasting my questions and giving his (office's) answers. It's a tad long, I apologize in advance

what about the money already spent in the West Harbour?
I asked staff what would happen if another site were chosen after we purchased the WH lands. The answer was we would sell it and apply the revenue to the other site! (How much do you think we could sell those properties for right now?)

How can we afford to sit on this land indefinitely?
We can sit on land for some time, especially land like this which is really a wonderful piece of property, especially when the railway yard is relocated. We had an ideal relocation site along the CN mainline between Kenora Avenue and Lake Avenue. Council in its wisdom approved a motion to rezone the lands to allow for a Walmart. The lands can be cleared and planted with vegetation that can help remediate. It's a technique called phytoregeneration. It would remove the eyesore and allow for development when the time comes.

I need you to justify abandoning the investment already made in one area over the course of previous years and moving ALL of the slated funding to another area?
Personally I can't justify the original decision.....I did try to find a way to solve the problem as a member of the former Mayor's Facilitation group, but would not have sited a stadium there.

I think it a tad important to know the reasoning behind such an enormous decision other than ‘saving an historic football team’. We were facing a $90 million dollar rebuild of Ivor Wynne, which we are now able to accomplish for $45 million. Respectfully,

Bob Bratina.

To: Bratina, Bob Subject: RE: The Deal

Hmmmmm,

We were facing a $90 million dollar rebuild of Ivor Wynne, which we are now able to accomplish for $45 million. Sounds pretty confidant to me, already have a deal in place with the province do you perhaps? Where’s the transparency?

WH lands. The answer was we would sell it and apply the revenue to the other site! (How much do you think we could sell those properties for right now?) I would say close to nothing because nothing else is there

It's a technique called phytoregeneration so , you’re plan is to plant flowers at the West Harbour?? So I’ll expect to see development down there in about 70 years, as you have said in the recent past “what do we need a 6000 seat stadium for?” I will ask “what do we need another RBG for?”

This is your plan?? This makes it all worthwhile to give everything to one location to a private entity who said all along they could not make money at said location?

NUTS!

Respectfully,

From: Bratina, Bob [mailto:Bob.Bratina@hamilton.ca] Sent: Wednesday, January 26, 2011 9:56 AM To: Subject: Re: The Deal

This communication ended after your first paragraph.

From: To: Bratina, Bob [mailto:Bob.Bratina@hamilton.ca]

Touched a nerve did I?

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By highwater (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 11:28:37

This communication ended after your first paragraph.

Classic Bratina. Thin-skinned, high-handed, contemptuous, unaccountable. Four more years of this.

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By drb (registered) - website | Posted January 26, 2011 at 11:40:32

@McHattieSellout, I think we (and council) are getting our first taste of what the next few years of policy-making will look like in Hamilton. Major public projects, policy, and funding announcements by ambush. The IWS2 deal has been leaked to the media 24 hours ahead at every step. If the media was given the heads-up you can be sure that this was being leaked at City Hall as well. McHattie (and other councillors) must have known what was coming.

The Mayor's chief-of-staff is an old hand in the newspaper biz. I have wondered why she allows her boss to shoot from the lip so often. I used to think this was a mistake, but now I believe it is canny strategy. A mayor who creates policy on the fly, who brings "deals" to council fait accompli keeps opponents on council off balance. The Mayor is then no longer "just one more vote at council", he is shifting the stated public agenda and daring councillors to oppose him. In this case, it seems, some councillors feel it is best to sit back and cut bait.

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted January 26, 2011 at 11:41:55

The Councillor Bob persona is emerging. The Broadcaster Bob persona, which won him the election, is cracking. We all knew it was likely to happen. Only a matter of time.

This email, and others I've already seen, are not mayoral in any way whatsoever. Fred always responded with the dignity appropriate to the office of Mayor, even when being criticized harshly and often personally. I think they call that being a class act.

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 11:50:35

One thing I neglected to call Bratina on was his assertion that "I would not have slated a stadium there" (the WH I assume), Is he joking or did he burn the T Shirt he wore at Hess last summer supporting the WH??

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By iTell (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:09:12

Steve Jobs of a small company called Apple who is a visionary, and an icon to many perhaps even some on this thread is noted for short, to the point and sometimes terse emails.

Perhaps, the mayors email style is an indicator of something you are missing.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:12:01

Perhaps, the mayors email style is an indicator of something you are missing.

That he thinks he's a CEO and not a civil servant?

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By mchattie blunder (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:18:27

>Am I the only one who noticed that McHattie sold us out by supporting the IWS misadventure?

No, I certainly saw that and I feel greatly let down. Perhaps he is thinking of running for Mayor again?

This issue should have been a referendum because if McHattie can flip-flop then they all can.

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:55:20

Whitehead is the master of the flip flop

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By back of the envelope (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 14:44:30

Cost for reno: $150M
Ticat lease: 20 years
Games per year: 10
Average attendance: 25,000
Total seats filled in 20 years for football: 5 million

Average subsidy PER ticket for football for next 20 years: $30

Assumes that maintenance costs will be covered by the rental from other uses.

Great use of taxpayers money eh!

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 15:39:44

Well, it's no secret from what I've been reading that with financial analyses like that, publically funded stadiums don't make financial sense using taxpayer money. Agree.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 16:57:53

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By ITell (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 17:54:24

highwater, that is one way to view it, and many would say is good to have in a leader.

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By WiiWatch (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 18:10:49

The question is whether the Mayor is a leader with integrity, vision and substance. The way he has approached the stadium issue thus far raises numerous red flags. However, there is still a good chance for him to make his mark in a positive way. With Bob Young having come back to the table, if the Mayor can deliver the Ticats at the West Harbour, he will win fans from across the city and around the Council table. It's getting down to the wire, but the Ivor Wynne deal is looking worse and worse and it's not too late for the Mayor to pull a win-win out of this.

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 19:22:42

WiiWatch wrote;

" the Ivor Wynne deal is looking worse and worse"

Not so fast.

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/478404--stadium-shortfall-closer-to-10-million-than-40-million-source-says

"The shortfall for the proposed Ivor Wynne Stadium renovation is closer to $10 million than $40 million, and the province is willing to put up the extra funding, a source tells The Spectator."

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By mb (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 19:59:33

"The shortfall for the proposed Ivor Wynne Stadium renovation is closer to $10 million than $40 million, and the province is willing to put up the extra funding, a source tells The Spectator."

Interesting...

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By mb (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 20:00:55

if the Mayor can deliver the Ticats at the West Harbour, he will win fans from across the city

You assume that everyone in Hamilton wants West Harbour. I do believe West Harbour supporters are the loud minority.

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By mb (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 20:03:05

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By Andrea (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 20:03:15

Not so fast.

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/478404--stadium-shortfall-closer-to-10-million-than-40-million-source-says

"The shortfall for the proposed Ivor Wynne Stadium renovation is closer to $10 million than $40 million, and the province is willing to put up the extra funding, a source tells The Spectator."

That is based on Clr. Ferguson's assessment, isn't it? Meanwhile, aren't the facilities in Toronto already overbudget? Just because someone is picking up the tab still doesn't make it a good idea. I will say this over and over again - 'the Province' is still US and the rest of tax paying Ontarians. Maybe your municipal property tax won't go up, but there is no such thing as a free lunch. We will take the hit eventually. That being said, moving forward, collectively we need to focus on alternative solutions (not likely given the timeframe), continue to voice our thoughts to all elected officials and think of creative, city building uses for the Rheen property. I detest the City's "let's dump it and make it someone else's cavalier attitude". This deal stinks.

Comment edited by Andrea on 2011-01-26 20:06:31

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By mb (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 20:07:40

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 26, 2011 at 20:13:16

I think Chris Murray's statement to me the other day is appropriate: "Given where we are in the design process, it's prudent for [Infrastructure Ontario] to carry a healthy amount of risk and contingency."

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By goin'downtown (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 21:37:09

@mb, maybe RTH commenters are a loud minority, but they sure as hell are a knowledgeable, informed, engaged minority. In my observation, most citizens base their opinions and votes on what's valuable to them personally (e.g. "I don't go downtown" or "I love the Tiger Cats" or "I hate amalgamation"), not what's valuable or sustainable or even possible, for/to the City as a whole. Most citizens don't take the time and energy to self-educate themselves on the principles of municipal politics, basic economics and issues at hand; they depend upon the media headlines (often sensationalized) and their emotions. And most citizens don't engage with other citizens in issue-oriented discourse. Thankfully, this seems to be changing, regardless of income-level and walk of life. "Score one" for the internet.

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By goin'downtown (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 21:44:03

Andrea, thanks for bringing the enigmatic "them" into the radar regarding the funding gap. I think some people need to be reminded that unless "them" consists of private sector businessses, "them" is "us" paying in one way or another. Just because we don't see our indiviual property tax bills go up $25+ next year to pay for IWS, doesn't mean that we aren't footing the bill through other provincial and federal taxes.

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By drb (registered) - website | Posted January 26, 2011 at 21:56:05

@goin'downtown, "...doesn't mean that we aren't footing the bill through other provincial and federal taxes", or losing vital public services due to budget cut-backs.

"Plow my street! Pick-up my garbage! Replace my heart valve! What am I paying my taxes for!!" Um, a stadium.

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 22:25:16

The stadium construction cost estimates from Infrastructure Ontario have been vetted by Bill Senn, Senior Vice-President of Infrastructure for Toronto 2015, before they reached the eyes of Hamilton city staff and council. Mr. Senn was the Senior Vice-President, Design and Construction for the New York Jets when they partnered with the New York Giants to build New Meadowlands Stadium. http://www.toronto2015.org/lang/en/toron...

Unless the "source" referred to in today's Hamilton Spectator article is Mr. Senn himself, it is highly unlikely that the lower stadium construction cost estimates bandied about by Bob Young, Mayor Bratina and Councillor Ferguson will hold sway with Infrastructure Ontario.

Comment edited by RenaissanceWatcher on 2011-01-26 22:26:48

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By mb (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 23:34:48

@mb, maybe RTH commenters are a loud minority, but they sure as hell are a knowledgeable, informed, engaged minority. In my observation, most citizens base their opinions and votes on what's valuable to them personally (e.g. "I don't go downtown" or "I love the Tiger Cats" or "I hate amalgamation"), not what's valuable or sustainable or even possible, for/to the City as a whole. Most citizens don't take the time and energy to self-educate themselves on the principles of municipal politics, basic economics and issues at hand; they depend upon the media headlines (often sensationalized) and their emotions. And most citizens don't engage with other citizens in issue-oriented discourse. Thankfully, this seems to be changing, regardless of income-level and walk of life. "Score one" for the internet.

When the stadium was announced, there were different groups who saw this as an opportunity:

1)one group saw this as a way to remediate a brownfield, and help revitalize downtown

2)the other group saw this as a way to get a new stadium for the Tiger Cats

How in the hell do people from group 1 have any right to tell people from group 2 that they're wrong for what they think.

Comment edited by mb on 2011-01-26 23:35:06

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By drb (registered) - website | Posted January 26, 2011 at 23:57:25

@mb, You forgot a group:

3) Toronto2015, who saw this as an opportunity to provide a high quality soccer venue for the PanAm games, and a legacy for amateur sport in Hamilton.

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By realfreeenterpriser (registered) | Posted January 27, 2011 at 00:38:01

"1)one group saw this as a way to remediate a brownfield, and help revitalize downtown

2)the other group saw this as a way to get a new stadium for the Tiger Cats

How in the hell do people from group 1 have any right to tell people from group 2 that they're wrong for what they think."

The first group's goals benefit many and are what taxes and, in turn, government spending is for.

The second group's goal benefits exceedingly few and is what private investment and ticket sales are for.

In any event, Bob Young and the Tiger-Cats' last minute doublecross has ensured that a brownfield won't be remediated, the downtown won't be revitalized and the Tiger-Cats won't get a new stadium.

Good work Bob.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2011 at 01:11:34

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By F. Ward Cleat (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2011 at 01:12:03

@mb
How about the group that wanted the city to participate in the PanAm games, remediate a brownfield, revitalize downtown and get a new stadium for the Ti-cats. Just because you got sucked in by the 'Go East Mountain' propaganda machine like many others, you want to create a conspiracy theory (RTH this and RTH that). I'll assume your a proud Hamiltonian like most of the posters on this site. So maybe if you put aside the 'WH versus' bias you might see why so many people support the WH site, for so many different reasons.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2011 at 01:13:39

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By drb (registered) - website | Posted January 27, 2011 at 01:31:41

@hammy, could you provide a link to that poll? Just curious. Thanks in advance.

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By F. Ward Cleat (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2011 at 01:44:21

@drb
That would be Hammy.com., the poll was a random sampling of 1, with a margin of error of plus/minus 3.

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By drb (registered) - website | Posted January 27, 2011 at 01:49:58

@F.Ward Cleat, 63% is such a specific number, I thought... maybe... yeah I know. Sigh.

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By F. Ward Cleat (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2011 at 01:53:23

it's late...I couldn't resist.

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By PeterF (registered) | Posted January 27, 2011 at 02:28:48

@Hammy

The gap is 40 million, they are just hiding their heads in the sand.

The most recent spec poll shows that 55% of the people want to forget the whole thing. 26% want the city to increase their IWS contribution and 19% want a smaller WH. You claim 63% want IWS, never mind where people want the stadium, 74% (55+19 added it for you), do not care what happens to the cats. Do you see it any other way? Maybe what you were trying to say is that 63% of the remaining Cat fans want IWS.

As for your comment about WH supporters being stuffy 6 figure income people, get a job and maybe you can make a few figures. The Poll is on the link below.

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/articl...

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted January 27, 2011 at 08:39:31

[@mb This communication ended after your first paragraph.

Good for Bob for standing up to you. No one should be accused of backroom deals without absolute proof. If anyone had accused Fred of such a thing, RTH would have them tarred and feathered.]

mb, if you actually read Bratina's letter to me he states he's GOT a deal done for $45 million, so I was merely questioning the mayor's confidance on securing this deal. It seemed to me he was saying it was already done. You are correct, it may not be a backroom deal but something sure does smell funny.

Comment edited by RightSaidFred on 2011-01-27 08:58:26

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By PeterF (registered) | Posted January 27, 2011 at 08:50:53

@RightSaidFred

I think you were right in the first place, it was a backroom deal. It was reported that someone from the Premiers office phoned Bratina and said maybe you should phone BY. The next morning IWS was announced. Premiers office talking to BY or was it BY talking to the Premiers office, either way, something is not right.

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted January 27, 2011 at 09:04:45

@PeterF

of course it was and is a backroom deal, we will get a reno'ed IWS and the province will pony up the extra cash but mb is correct, I don't have any proof but let's face it, why would the mayor hold a press conference and announce it to the world without even alowing council to debate it first, like it was a done deal? Why would he take WH off the table like it was all IWS or nothing unless a deal to bridge the gap is already in place. Again, you are correct mb, I don't have any proof but I'm not stupid.

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By Just A Thought (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2011 at 09:11:36

Maybe council's pro-IWS2 votes would like to wager their pensions against the possibility of cost over-runs? (Alternately, they could apply their votes toward a motion on a two-term limit before they are turfed from office.)

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2011 at 17:19:26

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Comment edited by hammy on 2011-01-27 17:19:39

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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted January 27, 2011 at 19:21:46

I posted this over on the latest blog for city council streming, but maybe it fits better here --

Guys and Gals - lets say the province chips in 25M, or some business contributes 10M. How is that factored in the numbers? Is it off the top, such that Hamilton only sees 11M from the province, or 4.4M from a business (44%)? Are these contributions to come directly off of Hamilton's bottom line?

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By misterque (registered) - website | Posted January 27, 2011 at 20:40:41

I loved the part about the two Bobs. Check out this real conversation.

http://hughmacleod.com/?p=838

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By bob lee (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2011 at 22:03:44

"People who know me know I'm a Hamilton booster of the first rank."

I don't know you but I respect your work at H+H. But I think you've got some serious blinkers on with this argument, and I would almost hazard you're putting the realization of your own dreams here above a suitable compromise. This site will not give the imagined rewards the WH would. But a good politician deals with externalities and risks. You don't get your imagined payoff, but nor do you get a brownfield at Ivor Wynne. Maybe because people here rarely go east of Victoria, but I see a rebuilt IWS offering a kickstart to ward 3 that WH would never bring to ward 1. Remediate the Rheem land and that property will take off without you doing anything.

You've gotten cynical about the city after this. Not me, I think the city will be better because of it. The only thing I've gotten cynical about is the RTH community. I'm stunned the way people here are treating the Ivor Wynne proposal as though it's another East Mountain.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted January 27, 2011 at 22:20:08 in reply to Comment 58468

How is a renovated IWS stadium supposed to "kickstart" anything in Ward 3 when it hasn't already kickstarted anything in the past 80 years?

At least at WH a stadium would pay to remediate Rheem. Once we've finished paying for IWS, there'll be no money left over for remediation at WH... or a decent Velodrome.

PS cool comment reply form!

Comment edited by z jones on 2011-01-27 22:22:04

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By bob lee (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2011 at 22:28:53 in reply to Comment 58476

because it's renovated. It will be shiny and new. Two brownfields, Rheem and Ivor Wynne. Which has a better chance of being cleaned up?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 27, 2011 at 22:37:43 in reply to Comment 58480

Ivor Wynne isn't a brownfield. Aside from 80 years of dude sweat, the soil isn't contaminated and would not need to be remediated before a developer would touch it.

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted January 27, 2011 at 22:13:34

The following is an attempt to sort out the various costs to be incurred by the City of Hamilton in the rebuild/renovation of Ivor Wynne Stadium based on the city staff report and their presentation today. Further information will be needed to determine the net cost to Hamilton.

Cost of 15,000 Pan Am stadium = $125 Million Hostco pays $70 Million and Hamilton must pay $55 Million rather than $45 Million (Province not allowed to pay this)

Cost of 15,000 seat Pan Am stadium plus Base CFL = $138 Million $138 Million (Pan Am plus Base CFL) less $125 Million (Pan Am only) = $13 Million (Hamilton pays 100% of the $13 Million difference)

Cost of North Stand renovation = $10 Million (Hamilton pays 100%)

Demolition of South Stand = Now $4 Million (Was $1.5 Million) (Hamilton pays 100%)

1,500 Parking Spaces = $????? (Finance Manager said details might not be known by Jan 31)

Side Note: Estimated construction cost of 6,000 parking spaces at East Mountain site was $22 Million thus rough guesstimate of $5.5 Million for construction of 1,500 parking spaces near Ivor Wynne Stadium excluding any land acquisition costs) Hamilton pays 100%

Relocation/Replacement of Brian Timmis Field = $2.4 Million Hamilton pays 100%

Summary

Estimated Total Payments by Hamilton

$55.0 M Pan Am stadium

$13.0 M Base CFL stadium

$10.0 M Renovate north stands

$ 4.0 M Demolish south stands

$ 5.5 M Construct 1,500 parking spaces (guesstimate only)

$ 2.4 M Replace Brian Timmis Field

$89.9 M Total

Less Estimated Capital Contributions To Hamilton’s Share of Cost

$ ??? M Allocation from Future Fund

$ 3.0 M Capital contribution by Bob Young

$ ??? M Additional savings identified or to be identified by city staff

$ ??? M Additional funding from Province of Ontario

$ ??? M Total Estimated Capital Contributions to Hamilton's Share of Cost

Estimated Net Payment by Hamilton $ ??? M

Comment edited by RenaissanceWatcher on 2011-01-27 22:26:53

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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted January 27, 2011 at 22:46:20 in reply to Comment 58471

I would add the cost of WH & BT land acquisition - it's already spent and not a component of the allowable PanAm costs.

Also, is the BoYo contribution a capital contribution? Sounded more like a minumum guarantee on the sale of naming rights, which will be when?

Comment edited by GrapeApe on 2011-01-27 22:51:51

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By ONE P!$$ED OFF FAN (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2011 at 22:19:31

Bob Lee,
The big difference is that the IW site doesn't give us the opportunity to provide the critical mass nearby that is neccessary to make the stadium sustainable and enjoy economic spinoffs that would be good for the entire city. I mentioned it in an earlier post regarding the neccesity to cluster entertainment/tourist/hospitality/retail/cultural facilities and industries which feed off each other and become attractive to investors who are willing to develop our downtown core. This helps in keeping our young people who are not looking for suburban lifestyles, but rather an exciting urban lifestyle with lots of entertainment options. This in turn becomes attractive to companies looking to set up shop. Also, by creating the critical mass, we increase our tax base significantly which is good for the rest of the city. The stadium itself is not the silver bullet to solve all these problems, but it could have been a very important piece of the puzzle. This should never have been about a compromise, it should have been about choosing the best economic model.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2011 at 22:48:04

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 27, 2011 at 23:07:34

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted January 28, 2011 at 22:27:25 in reply to Comment 58498

No, I know I shouldn't be baited by a troll, but this is unbelievable horse hockey. Bob Young has never offered a thin dime of capital funding for any stadium anywhere.

Any claim of Ticat "funds" has been for project revenues (parking revenues, commercial developments, naming rights) that would be paid for by the City but "given" to the City by the Ticats. Every offer of Ticat "funds" has, at every point, been an attempt to bribe the City with its own money.

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted January 28, 2011 at 08:35:05

@ GrapeApe

Your observations are right on.

  1. On February 23, 2009, Hamilton city council voted to spend $10 Million from the Future Fund to acquire the west harbour brownfield lands contingent upon Canada being awarded the 2015 Pan Am Games. http://hamilton.ca/NR/rdonlyres/A74BC236... Most of those lands have been acquired and the $10 Million has been effectively spent but not yet paid out. Will the monies still come from the Future Fund? Or will they come out of some other item in the capital budget? Or will they come from increased taxes? And where will the remediation costs come from? This remains to be seen.

  2. Yesterday, City Manager Chris Murray characterized Hamilton's $3 Million share of the estimated $6 Million stadium naming rights as a capital contribution from the Tiger-Cats (i.e. Bob Young). There still does not appear to be any upfront capital contribution to stadium contribution from Mr. Young.

Comment edited by RenaissanceWatcher on 2011-01-28 08:35:40

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted January 28, 2011 at 23:39:02

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted January 29, 2011 at 07:22:08

Here is the link to a National Post article by Mark Masters titled "Will Premier McGuinty save the Ticats?": http://sports.nationalpost.com/2011/01/2...

And here is the link to a Hamilton Spectator article by Ken Peters titled "No word on stadium funding until Monday: MPPs": http://www.thespec.com/news/local/articl...

Comment edited by RenaissanceWatcher on 2011-01-29 07:26:20

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By GrapeApe (registered) | Posted January 30, 2011 at 16:45:28

Spec says announcement at 5pm from Liberals

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/articl...

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