Special Report: Pan Am

The Day Our City Joined Hands

January 31 was a day that our Council sent a unanimous message to our city. I truly believe that in the end, the Great Stadium Debate brought us all closer.

By Larry Pattison
Published February 10, 2011

The Mayor's family sat behind me for most of the afternoon, including his son (wearing a Markeith Knowlton jersey), his wife, and others. It reflected the sentiment felt over the course of the day around the Council table, in the gallery, and in the lobby outside the glass chamber doors.

Not long after we took our seats that Monday morning, we were asked to wait in the upstairs lobby while Council and staff went in camera.

Media, friends, and family gathered into the early afternoon, to reflect one last time on the past eight months. Chat circles formed, and the media interviewed Cats fans and citizens who have followed this process closely.

A part of me would have loved to have seen a packed Council chamber and outside lobby - like back in August of last year - but the quiet crowd further complemented the family atmosphere that symbolized that final day of this exhausting debate.

After 2.5 hours, the curtains that obstructed the view of the Council roundtable rose and for the last time, we returned to the gallery to witness the final chapter of the Great Stadium Debate.

For the most part, in the hours following Council's return to order, the past was left behind. That blistery final day of January proved to be a big stepping stone toward rebuilding so many of the bridges that had been broken over the course of this Pan Am process.

Bittersweet Victory, Opportunity

For many, there is no win at 75 Balsam Avenue North. For me, an Ivor Wynne victory is bittersweet. I strongly believe that this is the first step in something spectacular to come not only along Balsam Avenue itself, but in Ward 3 in general - including further growth of the Ottawa Street shopping district, and something new and old along Barton Street.

One of the traits I always loved about Ivor Wynne itself was the view: the escarpment, the lights of downtown at night, and even the steel factories and the symbolism in what they represent.

This is perhaps our last opportunity to change this area of our city. I can only hope that the rebirth of our old stadium can be the catalyst that so many stadiums have not been able to live up to.

There is no reason why Hamilton should not be one of the most desired places to live. From the escarpment that wraps its branches around our lower city and the many beautiful views from various points along it, to our harbor, Cootes Paradise, a city of waterfalls, a thriving arts community, and so much more.

Not to mention you can drive 20 minutes from the furthest point and be cruising along country roads with the smell of cows and nature wafting in through your open car windows.

Next Chapter

Over $150M dollars is about to be spent in our home town. I feel there is too much potential in this stadium plan to ignore the value of the next chapter in our city's promising future.

Everything that has occurred over the past several months - the frustration, the long hours, the indecision - finally came full circle. Sure, there were still a select few who saw the resolution as a cup half empty, but the glass was full for many Councillors that day, including our mayor.

Differences were set aside and perhaps for the first time in all the days and evenings I had spent in Council chambers, there were flashes of inspiration. Finally, there was a reason to celebrate.

There were speeches from the heart, perhaps the best saved for our mayor, who even enlightened us all with some further history of our historic stadium.

Lessons Learned

I have taken many lessons away from the events dating back to last July. I have learned a great deal during my time spent at City Hall, on message board forums, and even from quality time spent in our Local History and Archives department at the Hamilton Public Library.

We have criticized council and the Tiger-Cats tirelessly this past year, but through everyone's congratulatory words leading up to last week's final vote, we were all reminded of just how much work went into this process from so many levels - including the citizenry.

It is easy to be critical of someone you do not know, to judge those whose shoes you've never been in. Someone whose job you would like or who holds a position you once held.

What's hard is realizing your own faults. Imagine the world is looking over your shoulder for a moment. What would the world say about you?

I have been judgmental throughout this process as well. It is not something I wish to or even can hide in the wonderful world of online forums.

I can't imagine the toll that politics takes on relationships of all forms - especially marriages, from the hours they have to put in during major decisions such as the Pan Am Stadium, to the thousands of emails and phone calls that have surely poured in from July until moments leading up to that last GIC meeting.

None of us deserves judgment. Not our family, friends, colleagues, or especially those we do not even know.

January 31 was a reminder, with the mayor's family behind me, that all of the men and woman who lead our city have families of their own. They are friends, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters. They are human.

Should they be accountable for and contested against the decisions they are making on our behalf? Yes, but let your vote in four years time be their judgment, for you and I are no better for the harsh words we pass through conversation or over the web, whether anonymously or otherwise.

Make the Most

I am excited about the opportunity this amount of money represents, coming into our community. I can only hope that the citizen involvement will continue, as that can only make the result of this stadium district and the time, money and energy that will go into this project something we can all feel good about.

As council adjourned and chambers emptied, the Mayor walked into the gallery where he was congratulated on Council's victory. He hugged his son, shook hands with other family members, and thanked them all for being there for him on this important day.

Before making my way, I also turned and offered my sentiments in regards to the words our mayor chose to end this very long debate.

I truly believe that in the end, the Great Stadium Debate brought us all closer.

January 31 was a day that our Council sent a unanimous message to our city. A day we all moved forward together. The day our city joined hands.

Larry Pattison is a local blogger, life-long resident of Hamilton, and father to two amazing girls. Larry is also an elected member of the HWDSB Board of Trustees for Ward 3.

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted February 10, 2011 at 12:11:30

While I agree we need to move forward since the decision has been made, I can't seem to get the putrid taste of bile out of my throat that Ti-Cat ownership and mouth piece put there over the past year. Until that is gone I can't see myself spending any money on this organization. Time heals I suppose

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted February 10, 2011 at 13:08:08 in reply to Comment 59505

I certainly understand your setiments, RSF. I can only hope that the Cats faithfull will come to the same conclusions as Slo below.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2011-02-10 13:11:44

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By slodrive (registered) | Posted February 10, 2011 at 12:42:30 in reply to Comment 59505

@RightSaidFred -- definitely share your thoughts. That said, sometimes I think we have to take a "what's past is prologue" approach and move on. Negative thought becomes burdensome.

I was thinking this just like you the other day -- debating whether this process will cause me to change my allegiances to the team. But, after not much deliberation, I was reminding myself of why I cheer for this team in the first place. And that reasoning has nothing to do with who sits up in the press box. It's about the city the team represents and deep roots and history it has in our community. It's the time I get to spend on warm summer and brisk fall nights in a cozy east-end neighbourhood with 25,000 or so that I consider friends -- give or take. That's pretty cool -- and not many cities have the ability to replicate that experience.

Mouthpieces like Scott Mitchell come and go -- and in the big picture they are a blip on the radar. So, I'm always hesitant to get so infuriated by the workings of a select, and very small, few when measured against the entire scope of team and city history.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted February 10, 2011 at 13:06:17 in reply to Comment 59508

Very well said, Slodrive. That's exactly how I feel even though I have been torn myself through all of this. It is about Hamilton, the community, kids, dreams, civic pride, and so much more.

I wonder if under this new agreement, we aren't already leaning - if only slightly at this time - towards community ownership. The coop of football ownership perhaps.

The Cats are our team and they always will be no matter who the owner is. Perhaps that it is so difficult for owners to 'make it here', is because Hamilton is a prime candidate for a community owned team.

The recent success of the Green Bay Packers, perhaps brings that truth to the forefront now more than ever. The pride that exists in the two green cities, Green Bay and Saskatchewan is like no other I know where football is concerend. I want Hamilton to be like that because I know that is how I feel and you feel Slo and so many others I chat with on the Cats forum.

Even those long time Cats faithful, are questioning all of this and their loyalities are also under question. I hope they come to the same conclusions as you at the end of the day Slodrive. I really and truly do.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2011-02-10 13:12:39

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted February 10, 2011 at 13:15:25 in reply to Comment 59511

Community ownership in the Cats is the one thing I WOULD agree to throw my tax money at. But it's not going to happen now that the Caretaker is looking forward to his new stadium for his 'worst investment he ever made'. Do you really think after all this he is going to sell it back to us? And even if he entertained the thought, how much would that costs us? I, for one, have had enough of throwing my money at this man but the concept certainly appeals to me. But let's face it, we're stuck with the Caretaker and he's stuck with his worthless Tiger-Cats whether we want each other or not.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted February 10, 2011 at 13:26:43 in reply to Comment 59514

I would think he is here for awhile now. I don't think that is neccesarily a bad thing but I would just hope that when it does come time to move on, perhaps he would assist us with transitioning the team into a community owned one.

I am not saying it is something he 'owes' us, but he bought the team using his heart. Perhaps this would eventually be away to move on in a similar fasion.

Maybe one of the many pipe dreams I have, but I look at GB and Sask. and I think to myself 'what if?'?

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted February 10, 2011 at 18:09:45 in reply to Comment 59515

Yes, what if he passed it to us when the debate started?? End of debate and a brand new stadium in WH. Oh well, oskie wee wee. I too will not stop supporting "the team", but will never be happy about the way we were treated by it's owner.

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By Optimist (anonymous) | Posted February 10, 2011 at 12:12:19

Larry - Nice article. I think the full implications of this decision will not be known for a few years, but it never hurts to be an optimist (especially in this city!). I still regard this episode as a lost opportunity because we have drained the well to proceed with IWS2 which I don't see as bringing significant change to Hamilton in terms of spin-off, a changed image, etc. What we have done is essentially stayed where we are as a city, which isn't the end of the world, but it certainly isn't where we need to be.

I do have to disagree with the "coming together" analogy. I saw some pretty sharp divisions on display that I think are a symptom of a greater demographic divide in Hamilton rather than stadium only opinions. There is a younger, growing segment that is getting pretty vocal about the type of city they want to live in and that trend is not going away.

In the end, this is all healthy debate and life goes on.

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By PeterF (registered) | Posted February 10, 2011 at 22:42:37 in reply to Comment 59506

Very insightful comment and perhaps the silver lining in this whole debacle is that many of us that were never vocal about our city before are now engaged and that can only be positive.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted February 10, 2011 at 13:11:11 in reply to Comment 59506

Thanks Optimist. I think the younger voice is a very positive and strong one and we can only hope that as some of their visions are realized, the 'hard sells' in our city will see the benefits to these very different, but needed changes.

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By slodrive (registered) | Posted February 10, 2011 at 12:28:08

Really good read. Nice to see this viewed in a positive light for a change. Refreshing.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted February 10, 2011 at 13:44:21

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By Your Mother (anonymous) | Posted February 10, 2011 at 14:28:11

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Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-02-10 14:41:28

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted February 10, 2011 at 15:03:08

Well, there's a couple of ways to look at it.

You can look at it as if everyone has now come together and is singing kumbayah, or, more realistically, you can look at it as the councilors opposed to the location realized that they were outnumbered and voted for it in an attempt to mend political fences.

As far as it goes for me, I can't forget that the whole problem happened because Bob Young made a power play and a terrible "compromise" was reached because Bob Bratina made appeasing Bob Young his priority.

YMMV.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 10, 2011 at 18:56:11 in reply to Comment 59526

I agree. I think the city took a huge step backwards and the new council undid the work of the previous council, which had put the city firmly in the drivers seat. Now instead of redeveloping an inner city neighbourhood we get a new parking lot. wow. And instead of injecting new life into old, toxic WH lands, we get more decades of old, toxic WH lands.
It's amazing that the new council only took over 2 and a half months ago. The 4 years of progress and vision we just enjoyed seems like it was decades ago. Let's hope this council sleeps on the job and doesn't have to make any more important decisions for the rest of this term. We can't take any more damage to our city. Anyone out there with vision, please start preparing for the next election. Hamilton needs you.

Comment edited by jason on 2011-02-10 19:02:44

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 09:30:12 in reply to Comment 59540

The old council was in the drivers seat for what? Losing the TiCats? A small community stadium? A divided city? There was no consensus on the WH site, no matter what so many on this blog would like to pretend and portray. I am no big fan of the IWS site, but at least there is not a big hill limiting the whole project on the one side. Many of the problems facing the WH site are present in the Balsam Street site, but it is a little bit better.

I for one am glad that the new council managed to get this done in such a short time but them they did not really have a choice did they? It is amazing what can be done when there is a real deadline imposed and something has to happen.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 09:34:05 in reply to Comment 59557

There was no consensus on the WH site

No, there were only SEVEN consecutive votes in support of it.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 16:07:32 in reply to Comment 59558

Indeed there were. So what is your point? Seven consecutive or seven hundred consecutive votes does not make a consensus. It merely shows that seven times the council decided to vote in a certain way. Was there even a consensus among the council? Did they ever vote unanimously? Did they vote unanimously seven times? Is your memory really that short that you cannot remember all the opposing points of view? All the calls and all the posts? If you cannot then the rest of us certainly can.

Consensus means that everybody agrees or at least goes along with it. While there may very well have been a consensus among the Ryan faithful there certainly was not a consensus any place else. I believe that IWS is not a good site for a stadium but WH is even worse. Thank goodness some others agreed with me.

I read so many saying that they will now stop supporting the Ticats. For what end? Suppose that because of your lack of support the TiCats end up going bankrupt in 10 years after the glow of new stadium wears off. Just how will that help our fair city? How will it help anybody or anything except your shallow sense of justification? I do not know how long the TiCats or the CFL can or will survive, both have been on life support more than once. I am not a big CFL fan nor for that matter a big football fan in general but I think our city, in fact our whole country would be worse off without the CFL than with it. I think it is cool to have something definitively Canadian but you are free to disagree with that point of view. Maybe you would be happier if we lose the CFL and anything else that makes us unique and different from our American neighbours.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted February 13, 2011 at 10:00:21 in reply to Comment 59584

I read so many saying that they will now stop supporting the Ticats. For what end? Suppose that because of your lack of support the TiCats end up going bankrupt in 10 years after the glow of new stadium wears off. Just how will that help our fair city? How will it help anybody or anything except your shallow sense of justification? I do not know how long the TiCats or the CFL can or will survive, both have been on life support more than once. I am not a big CFL fan nor for that matter a big football fan in general but I think our city, in fact our whole country would be worse off without the CFL than with it. I think it is cool to have something definitively Canadian but you are free to disagree with that point of view. Maybe you would be happier if we lose the CFL and anything else that makes us unique and different from our American neighbours.

Thank you for that.

Especially this:

I think our city, in fact our whole country would be worse off without the CFL than with it. I think it is cool to have something definitively Canadian but you are free to disagree with that point of view. Maybe you would be happier if we lose the CFL and anything else that makes us unique and different from our American neighbours.

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted February 10, 2011 at 15:21:42 in reply to Comment 59526

I couldn't agree more with your statement Brandon. Forgetting is going to be the key. I suppose we Hamiltonians have to now justify this new stadium we own by going to events there and spending money there, etc. Aye, there's the rub!

Comment edited by RightSaidFred on 2011-02-10 15:24:48

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By Steve (registered) | Posted February 10, 2011 at 19:21:40

God bless you Larry. I'm sure you're a great guy and it's nice you're looking at this in a positive spin, but...well, to be brutally honest, that was probably the most naive article I've ever read. Let's get real my friend, the Ti-cats high-jacked the stadium, got what they never wanted, divided our city, made us lose the one damn good mayor we've had in over 25 years and the list goes on. A half ass renovated IW will do very little for Ward 3 and everything for the Ticats. Of course, it would have done wonders to WH as we all know (as developers waited in the wings for the stadium to go ahead - but certainly not lining up in Ward 3 at IW), but lets not go there. Yes, we need to move on, but as RighSaidFred mentioned,"I can't seem to get the putrid taste of bile out of my throat that Ti-Cat ownership and mouth piece put there over the past year."

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted February 13, 2011 at 15:19:52 in reply to Comment 59541

God bless you Larry.

Thank-you Steve. Although I am not a religious person, I do appreciate a message to me beggining with those words because I recieve them as very respectful and I thank-you for that.

I thought about it while I wrote it, and especially thought it after I hit send and forwarded it off to Ryan. I thought it would not be considered because it seemed so naive on the surface, but I am thankful to Ryan and RTH for allowing these words to surface in all t heir naivity.

na•ive [nah-eev] - having or showing a lack of experience, judgment, or information; credulous: She's so naive she believes everything she reads. He has a very naive attitude toward politics.

Funny that the last line where Naïve is used in a sentence, is in reference to politics.

I am surely a little naive where politics are concerend (hell where love and life are concerend as well), but not as much as this article might portray. I just get tired of all the negativity because life is too damn short. We either bitch about life or do something about it.

I never voted for Bob. I never voted for Bernie and my vote if I lived in Ward 2, would have been for Jelly. Nothing against either of the folks who now or still hold these chairs - as people.

Bob, Bernie, and Jason are among our leaders now and we can either spend the next four years mocking them or calling them idiots behind forum doors, or we can help them be better leaders, by being involved ourselves. Challenging them constructively, sharing our dreams and visions for our city.

This was/is my vision for our city. What is yours? Share it with us. Share it with your councillor.

The only way we will live in a better city, is by being a better city 'ourselves'.

Without dreams, however naive or far-fetched they may seem on the surface, there is nothing. We listen to inspiring music, read poetry and stories that touch our heart, and watch movies that change how we feel about love and life and people; that rekindle our affection for the good that does exist in so many people and creatures for that matter.

Why do we watch, listen, or read any of these artforms, if we don't believe in these 'dreams.' These seemingly naive dreams.

Ivor Wynne represents 'anything can happen' to me, so my dream is that in 2015 when the world comes to Hamilton, I am sitting in Ivor Wynne watching soccer and seeing an ever changing - for the better, Ward 3 because of this opportunity.

If it fails, I will be the first one to say I am sorry, and if it succeeds I will not say 'I told you so.' I'd be a little skeptical that anything can change in my neighborhood too, but if I don't believe it can ever change, than why am I living here?

I think all of you want a city you can believe in. I am sure many will call you all naive for feeling this way about the armpit of Ontario. Dirty, smelly, lunch bucket hell.

Is our city perfect? Is council perfect? All I know is that I am not. Let's start from there.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2011-02-13 15:39:58

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By HtH (anonymous) | Posted February 10, 2011 at 20:34:26

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By George (registered) | Posted February 10, 2011 at 22:08:33

Second last line from the article,

I truly believe that in the end, the Great Stadium Debate brought us all closer.

As Steve says, God bless Larry and his respectful and postive attidues, but...wow!

"Brought us all closer"? I can't recall ever seeing the city so divided, and so aghast at the final choice, a place that both parties had ruled out from the very beginning.

Comment edited by George on 2011-02-10 22:09:48

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By PeterF (registered) | Posted February 10, 2011 at 22:35:44

Larry, I am happy for you because you wanted this from day one. So your optimism and enthusiasm comes from an honest place. I must agree with others here that many others see this as a failure. What started with great excitement and promise has ripped this city apart. I have never seen this much anger and divsion in the city for any other issue. Even the Red Hill Expressway, as contentious as it was never was quite like this.

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By MattM (registered) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 10:17:59

Versus roughly two weeks of hastily written up calculations on napkins for IWS.

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By ProLine (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 10:26:22

I'm with Steve here, Larry. Your article is unbelievably naive, and with all due respect, it's the exact type of "bygones be bygones" pap that both Bobs hope the City swallows with eager abandon.

You and others are welcome to forget the past year as quickly as possible, and move forward optimistically wrt IWS 2.0, but I have to challenge the idea that willful ignorance of history makes for good citizenship.

Our City got played. Bigtime. Drink the kool-aid all you want, but everytime I pay my property tax bill, I'll be reminded of the massive corporate gift/grift sitting on Balsam Ave. It's a disgusting waste of taxpayer money that provides no return on investment (sorry, but if IWS 1.0 couldn't drag Ward 3 out of its doldrums, this renovation surely won't).

Council's unified front only shows me that no one sitting around that table has the integrity to stand up for ethical use of shared resources. Every one of those shills should hang their heads. But sadly, judging by people's apparent desire to sweep this shameful history under the rug, it seems as though Hamilton got the council it deserves.

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 11:31:05

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By ProLine (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 11:40:53

Talk about confusing the issue, Smith, on a number of fronts, but that's your burden.

Do me a favour and calculate the difference between $150M and what the Ti-Cats will be paying in taxes for the next 20 years (if they last that long).

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By A Smith (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 13:07:18

Proline, $150M divided by 525k residents = $285 per Hamilton resident.

Total grants from other levels of government to Hamilton in 2009 = $715

Total grants from other levels of government to Burlington in 2009 (including regional share) = $336 per person.

Therefore, even if the whole $150M was coming from our tax bill and there was no benefit to taxpayers at all, Hamilton residents would still be...

$715 - $285 = $430 net grant - $336 = $94 dollars better off than the residents of Burlington when it comes to getting money from government.

And these numbers are per year, whereas the stadium is a one time expenditure. In fact, comparing the the current level of government grants to Hamilton, it would require the city to completely waste $199.2 Million every year just to equal the level of non funding that Burlington residents receive every year.

Big picture, Santa is still very good to Hamilton taxpayers.

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By Andrea (registered) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 13:42:27 in reply to Comment 59567

Your logic is flawed as you are dividing the $150M by the number of residents of Hamilton, NOT the number contributors to the City tax revenue. It's oversimplifying. It's fair to break it down by resident, but in some cases where you have 5/6 ppl in a household the impact would be bigger.

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By Divided City. (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 14:00:36

I agree this debate divided the City between those of us here on RTH and the rest of the City. Sadly, as impassioned as we are, 72%* of the City did not agree with us.

* the percent of the City who voted against Fred and the WH.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 14:05:33 in reply to Comment 59570

that's a completely wacked out stat considering Bob Bratina rallied for the WH and wore a WH tee shirt only a few months before the election. The only people voting 'against WH' (assuming people were even voting based on this issue) were the ones voting for DiIanni.

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By Divided City (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 14:47:41 in reply to Comment 59572

The only reason Smiling Bob is Mayor was that the Ticat supporters in this city knew him as "the voice of the team" and they were voting for anyone on the Ticats side of the debate, which explains Farr's win too.
There isn't a lot of support for any given development in Hamilton (note the controversies over everything from Lister to renovating City Hall) but the one thing 72% of Hamiltonians do agree on is that having a successful CFL team is important.
We may not like to admit it - but our, and Fred's, picking a fight with the Ticats was, in hindsight, not a good idea.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 16:13:24 in reply to Comment 59578

I think your assumption that anyone "picked a fight" with the 'Cats is just flat out wrong.

Do you really believe that Fred would have given them a veto over the location and then turn around and ignore their input for seven votes?

Seriously?

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By Money rules (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 14:03:05

The other problem we cannot forget is that the City only ever had enough money (even with both Hostco and FF) to build a 15,000 seat stadium. So if the Ticats had been a city-owned team, we'd now be building a 15,000 seat soccer stadium in the West Harbour, and we'd also have to maintain the Ticats and their losses at Ivor Wynne.

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By F. Ward Cleat (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 14:26:20 in reply to Comment 59571

You're partly right, in that, the PanAm funds combined with City funds would have only built a 15,000 seat stadium at WH. That was the $138 million. The $22.5 million gift from the Province could have gone a long way in adding to the seating capacity with the right stadium design.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 14:09:36

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By MattM (registered) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 14:16:55

I still believe there were very few people that were actually voting against West Harbor, rather voting for anything that would appease the Tiger Cats. If the Tiger-Cats had gone with WH, I believe it would have had unanimous support. Of course the TC apologists claim otherwise now to save face, but they've already proved their flip-floppery.

Few of them lined up in defense of IWS when the Ti-Cats didn't care for it. They lined up behind East Mountain, then Longwood, then Confederation Park, then IWS. Meanwhile the "RTH people" are the ones getting trolled for actually standing behind something throughout the entire process, not just being bandwagon followers.

The whole thing really has been one of the most astounding shows of ignorance I've ever seen. People have gone as far as to label Eisenberger as "the worst mayor Hamilton has ever had". For what? Not bending over backwards for a football team? Suddenly he's the worst mayor in over a century of Hamilton's existence? It's truly pathetic.

Comment edited by MattM on 2011-02-11 14:18:55

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By PeterF (registered) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 18:07:59 in reply to Comment 59574

Matt, You forgot to add the whole deamalgamation campaign promise Bobby B made. That played really well outside the old city. Even though only the province can do such a thing, people went for it. Your last line sums it up It's truly pathetic.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 14:41:18 in reply to Comment 59574

He was the best mayor we've had in my lifetime. Not even close. I felt like I was living in a real city again. One with vision, passion and a real focus on improving our economy and quality of life for years to come. Hopefully it doesn't take another 30+ years to get a mayor in office who cares more about the city than the old boys club.

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By FredforMayor (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 15:04:11

Most people (not just here at RTH) liked Fred.
I don't remember anyone saying that Fred was the worst Mayor in the City's history, just that Fred made the worst mistake. One mistake does not make someone a bad Mayor but it can end their career as Mayor.
Fred's mistake was insisting that he did not need to listen to needs of the tenants of the building he and the PanAm folks were proposing to build. Hamilton voters, for better or worse, read that to mean that Fred was not very supportive of business.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 16:04:33 in reply to Comment 59579

It's hard to listen when you aren't told until the last possible second. You can't seriously believe that WH would have passed seven council votes if the 'Cats had said from the beginning "We can't make a go of it there".

Fred is the one who gave the 'Cats the veto in the first place, why would he set himself up for failure that way.

Bob Young made a power play at the last second, counting on the deadline and the election to get a better deal for himself and Fred paid the price for it.

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By Poor Fred (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 15:13:35

Fred was named in today's Spectator article "The Saga of White Star" by Gary Santucci. Quite a startling eye opener. West Harbour-Gate it should be called.

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 16:35:55 in reply to Comment 59580

I'd like to read that article, but the Spec thinks it's 1990 still and doesn't post most articles online.

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By The Smack (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 18:03:24 in reply to Comment 59588

You'll have to pick up the Friday Feb 11th edition of the Spec. It's outstanding!

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By Zephyr (registered) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 15:30:36

The arguments based on economics have all been made, and well, by people on this site.

But aside from being a terribly poor business decision, I can't get over the affront to democracy that this stadium represents. That our provincial government was always planning to give a stadium to the Ti-Cats and all of our debate and engagement never made a tiny bit of difference.

I believed that Hamilton had turned a corner and was progressing towards urban renewal and visionary leadership. The city urgently needs creativity and solutions. This decision was just driven by nostalgia and fear.

The Old Boy network governs still. I have never seen such jaw-droppingly poor leadership from any politician as I witnessed from Mayor Bob.

So no, I will not join hands and sing "kumbuya". Instead, I will likely move to Toronto where there are lots of jobs. The commute down the highway is a waste of time.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 15:54:02

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Comment edited by hammy on 2011-02-11 15:55:05

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By LoveForHammy (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 16:29:49

The only thing more pathetic than the ignorance of the majority of the members on this site is the poor, sad guy who had nothing better to do than constantly read the site and make inane remarks on it.

Hammy, guy, seriously--step back and look at how sad you look. You think we're so pathetic, yet you can't tear yourself away from us.

Do you need a hug? Can anyone help Hammy out?

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 16:59:33 in reply to Comment 59587

I wouldn't go near that Hamster with a 10 foot pole. Cooties for sure

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By correction (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 16:37:39

"Bob Young made a power play at the last second, counting on the deadline and the election to get a better deal for himself and Fred paid the price for it."

Like everyone else here I was hoping for a WH solution, but let's not re-write history.

Even Fred acknowledged that there was nothing "last minute" in the Ticat's position. They had been working quietly with the City for months trying to find solutions to the lack of access, and limited funding, for a stadium in the WH.

It was only after the City and the team were unable to reach any sort of agreement about overcoming the limitations of a WH location that the issue then spilled into the press.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted February 13, 2011 at 08:50:36 in reply to Comment 59589

The "We will not play at WH" was last minute, no doubt about it. They may not have been ecstatically happy about the choice, but until then they were willing to work with it based on their own public statements.

Bob Young saw an opportunity created by politics to gain more for himself and went for it, hence the ultimatum.

Was WH the perfect location for the 'Cats? Probably not. Was it the best location for the city's purposes? Without a doubt. We had brownfields being restored, condos and business space planned, a large revitalizing process.

Bob Bratina made the priority of the last meeting "Saving the 'Cats and not raising taxes". IOW "Kiss Bob Young's posterior until we come up with an agreement". The meeting should have been about how best to benefit the city's plans for revitalization while leaving the door open for Bob to take advantage of over $100 million public dollars to get a shiny new stadium.

Please explain to me how the IWS location is superior to the WH location based on any of the 'Cats demands and then I'll be able to be convinced that this wasn't just Bob Young refusing to climb down from "We will never play at WH".

Comment edited by Brandon on 2011-02-13 08:50:57

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By Emptor (registered) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 21:22:20 in reply to Comment 59589

No they weren't. There was no work behind the scenes; much like there was never any investors. Bob Young realized that he had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I think it's no coincidence that suddenly IW stadium worked, Bob Young was thevone person who knew Bob Young was lying about the existence of any investors know matter what

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By Onward (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 17:04:03

Look - don't be so hard on Hammy Hamster. I really don't care what his/her motivations are for making comments on this site (cry for attention, contrarion, etc.). In my opinion they are a minor distraction to the main goal many of us share - to make this city into a place we can be proud to call home for many years to come.

As much as it gets attention, City Hall doesn't define Hamilton. For every good mayor and council, there are 10 times as many bad ones (every city has this issue). Cities of substance and progress have active citizens that improve the city in many ways every day. The stadium debate started as a chance to accelerate progress and it would have been a great symbolic turning point. But if I've learned anything about being a Hamiltonian is that NOTHING ever comes easy in this town. We have to push very hard to make progress and for every win, there will be setbacks and with every setback there is the predictable chorus of squelchers who make a living out of saying "I told you so". One thing is for sure, you can't count on City Council to deliver what is needed (the last 25 years of leadership can attest to the effectiveness of this strategy).

The challenge we face in Hamilton is psychological more than anything. On balance, this city has low self-esteem as too many people take a strange comfort in failer. Until we have a greater number of citizens who actually believe we are capable of, and deserve, better, we will remain a city lamenting our unrealized potential.

The real promising news is that the anger from the outcome of the stadium debate shows there are a great many citizens who are demanding more and that is the basis for doing great things down the road. I honestly think that if the stadium debate were to happen 10 years from now, it would not have been close - WH all the way. Conversely, if it were to have happened 10 years ago, IW (or East Mountain) would have gone through in a cake walk. In that respect, the trends lines are looking good!

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By say what (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 17:15:51 in reply to Comment 59592

The funny thing is that anger is not as loud as RTH readers seem to imply. In my travels I sense a feeling of relief that a decision was finally reached in spite of all of the political wranglings and ineptitude coming from city hall. I really think you are misreading public reaction

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By PeterF (registered) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 18:00:53 in reply to Comment 59594

I strongly disagree, anyone that I spoke to about this issue are pissed off. Not neccessarily about the WH but because the process was hijacked. That seems to be the often most used word. From my own cirlce of friends and family, the people who are happy about this decision seem to be a) did not care at all about it. b)were terrified we would lose the Cats.

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By Emptor (registered) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 21:28:58 in reply to Comment 59601

Totally agree with Peter. I would add that what repulsed me about hammy hamster isn't the fact that he has his own opinion, it's that he has his own facts; and they're all wrong. How could someone with even a drop of intelligence read so much of this website and have nothing penetrate his thick skull. I have visions of Homer Simpson; pick your episode, any will work!

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 17:11:32 in reply to Comment 59592

very true Onward. Thx for the reminder. We ARE making progress...even if it's painfully slow at times. And for every deadbeat mayor, there's a bright light at city hall like Glen Norton.... things are definitely better now than in a long time.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 17:53:02

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By Emptor (registered) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 21:32:04 in reply to Comment 59598

I would point out that Mubarak was in power for 30 years; far more years than the Ticats have been profitable in their history! I would also point out that RTH would be the rebelling protectors not the mindless drones you affiliate with!

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted February 11, 2011 at 18:01:29

Is it just me...or is 'hammy' kinda reminiscent of 'Ed the Sock'?

(And if the 'RTH'erssss' are 'finished'...why are you here, hammy? Are you hoping to effect some sort of overthrow? Are you just hangin' around, hoping to pick up some bargains?)

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By PeterF (registered) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 18:18:07 in reply to Comment 59602

And WTF is belly acing. Is it close to being the same thing that is supposedly rumoured about Richard Gere and a hamster!

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 18:55:26

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By PeterF (registered) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 20:42:02 in reply to Comment 59608

Hammy give it up. You are rude and ignorant. If you have anything to say, say it. Don't add insults and stupid remarks. You are not the same as a normal citizen because you cannot be civil. People just want to state their opinions, dscuss issues etc. and do it in a civil manner. If you hate RTH, do not log on. You put out ignorance and stupidity you get it back.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 19:06:34 in reply to Comment 59608

That's funny, 'cause most of the normal citizens of our great city that I talk to don't go around insulting everyone all the time.

Pretty sure that's just you.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 21:09:59

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By Emptor (registered) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 21:37:41

Hammy, you're just a long, long day! You must absolutely exhaust the people in your life! I guess that's why you seem to crave the attention of the people on this site.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted February 11, 2011 at 22:34:03

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted February 12, 2011 at 10:37:52

From 1869 to 2009, the identities of City of Hamilton and its football teams seemed inseparable. For 140 years, one of the main attractions for Hamiltonians in attending the HAAA Grounds or Civic Stadium or Ivor Wynne Stadium to watch the Tigers, Wildcats or Tiger-Cats was the cache of watching the football team, and vicariously the Hamilton community, as underdogs competing against the teams of larger, wealthier Canadian cities. Hamiltonians internalized the wins and losses of their home team.

Then two major events happened in 2010:

  1. The Tiger-Cat organization backed away from Hamilton’s plan to build a multi-use Pan Am athletics, football and soccer stadium at the preferred west harbour site and demanded an NFL-sized parking lot and the removal of the athletics track;

  2. The Tiger-Cat organization threatened to move the team out of Hamilton and entered into preliminary talks with other municipalities about relocating. Reported destinations included Oshawa, Milton, Moncton, Quebec City, Burlington and Ottawa.

Some Hamiltonians and Tiger-Cat fans are okay with this. For some Hamiltonians and Tiger-Cat fans, these two events in 2010 morphed the Tiger-Cat organization from being an inextricable part of the Hamilton community into being just a business with a business philosophy apparently not much different from that of Labatts or Siemens.

To some Hamiltonians and Tiger-Cat fans, January 31, 2011 will be characterized as a day that the city “joined hands”. To some Hamiltonians and Tiger-Cat fans, January 31, 2011 will be seen as the day that Hamilton city council folded its hand and gave all of its chips (i.e. municipal, provincial and federal funding) to rebuild Ivor Wynne Stadium for a business that had no hand (i.e. no private investors) and placed no chips of its own up front on the table.

Comment edited by RenaissanceWatcher on 2011-02-12 11:44:49

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By Tybalt (registered) | Posted February 14, 2011 at 00:49:10 in reply to Comment 59626

This was the clincher for me. On multiple occasions the Ticats said, that's it, we don't like it here, we're leaving.

And that was the point at which my love for the team, shrivelled and died.

I've seen it before, a hundred times. I have been a sports blogger for a long time and this was the same old Field of Schemes plan, all over again. But it hurt worse than ever this time because no one had ever pretended to be in the Ticats for the money... you couldn't be, it wouldn't make sense.

Well call me chastened. Too bad they had to kill my team with it, the one I was proud of.

Time heals all wounds, I guess.

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted February 12, 2011 at 11:34:13

Larry/Lawrence

I have always admired your tenacity and your passion for your position on keeping the IW site. I've said so on this site.

What I cannot support is your guileless revisionism as evidenced by your story.

I was there that day too. I left in utter disgust. As did others. In fact, my frustration was such that I really had to take some time to recalibrate my views about my city, my municipal leaders and the shocking intervention of our provincial government. I had to question the "emperor has no clothes" display of back slapping and pandering by our Councillors, all designed to mask an outrageous decision to waste both money and opportunity.

That day, promised myself I would not focus any more energy on the Pan Am stadium. Your article made me break my own promise. That's not your fault. It's mine. Going forward, I plan to focus my energies on talking about how we do something important with the assets and opportunities that remain. WH is a remarkable asset. The velodrome is an opportunity. Let's try not to waste both of them as we did with the rebuilding of half a stadium for all of the money and thinking it's a wonderful outcome. New seats will not revitalize the area that has played host to the same stadium for the past 80 years. To believe it will is delusional.

The day our Council joined hands? More accurately, the day our Council joined hands and tried to contact the competent and failed.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted February 13, 2011 at 14:57:32 in reply to Comment 59634

Larry/Lawrence

I have always admired your tenacity and your passion for your position on keeping the IW site. I've said so on this site.

I truly appreciate this Graham, and your opinion and the opinion of RTH'ers in general. I have learned most, from the time I have spent on this site.

Going forward, I plan to focus my energies on talking about how we do something important with the assets and opportunities that remain. WH is a remarkable asset. The velodrome is an opportunity.

I loved that the 'stadium' cheers were short-lived, and immediately the focus was brought to West Harbor and the Veledrome. If the Veledrome can happen and happen in WH, than I believe both 'sides' will win.

Going forward, I plan to focus my energies on taling about how we do something important with the assets, opportunities, and new money that exist for IW and a stadium district. Ivor Wynne is a remarkable asset. Ivor Wynne is an opportunity and I will continue to fight to 'Save Ivor Wynne Stadium'.

Nothing would have happened on it's own; West Harbor or otherwise. It's something we would have had to sell and WH supporters would have worked tirelessly to ensure something beautiful happened with a stadium there, as they will without one there. I and others will continue to sell Ivor Wynne, Balsam, Barton, and an area of our city we believe can be so much more.

And yes, NortheastWind. The gateway to downtown is something I would like to see.

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By NortheastWind (registered) | Posted February 13, 2011 at 14:20:57

I think the two most important words in this optimistic article for moving forward are "stadium district". IMO, to see positive change from a new IWS in this derelict area of our city, a stadium district should be developed. This should also include a development corridor between the downtown core and the stadium. The district would see a real renaissance once and if an LRT is built, if the planning is done now.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted February 13, 2011 at 15:24:25

Somtimes new comments get lost up in the reply section, so I wanted to sum up my response to many of the above posts at the end of this comment section as well.

http://raisethehammer.org/article/1310/#...

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted February 13, 2011 at 20:19:09

I've gone with the flat view and only read the comments as they appear at the bottom. I just can't see the point of scanning all of the comments over and over again to look for the new content.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted February 14, 2011 at 10:18:21 in reply to Comment 59705

I hear ya. I wonder if the replies should still go at the end of the comment thread with a link to the comment it's in response of, or perhaps an 'auto-comment' is placed at the end of the comment thread linking up to the reply threads?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 14, 2011 at 10:31:20 in reply to Comment 59736

If you switch from Nested view to Flat view (see the "View Comments" line just above the Post a Comment form), you will see comments listed in straight chronological order with links in child comments back to their parent comment.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted February 14, 2011 at 12:48:13 in reply to Comment 59737

Thanks Ryan. That works great. :)

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By r silva (anonymous) | Posted February 14, 2011 at 22:17:02

The city should clean up the West Harbour and also build a LRT loop around James - Barton - Locke - York.

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