Special Report: Pan Am

Pan Am Venue Process Led to Generic Stadium Design

With all the Pan Am venue designs bundled into a single bid, individual venues did not necessarily get the best or most cost-efficient design.

By Kevin Hollingworth
Published October 19, 2012

I am an avid read of Raise the Hammer and enjoyed reading Adrian Duyzer's recent article on the Pan Am Stadium design. I would like to provide some additional insight into the stadium debate/debacle.

Pan Am Stadium rendering
Pan Am Stadium rendering

I'm a civil engineer and I used to work for an engineering consulting firm that was part of one of the three pre-selected bidders that were competing for this project. I no longer work there, so I've been somewhat removed from the final designs.

One of the most important - if not the most important - fact that was omitted in almost every news article I read was the bidding process itself. It wasn't just the new soccer stadium that was being bid on. This project contained four components, including the Hamilton Soccer Stadium, Milton Velodrome, York University Athetics Centre, and City of Toronto Track and Field Centers.

I myself was directly involved in the Milton Velodrome component. However, being a Hamiltonian myself, I had an obvious interest in the Soccer Stadium and would often look at the latest drawings going out the door. As such, I don't have exact details concerning the Hamilton component, but I do have knowledge of the overall process.

Each component followed the same sort of process, just with different criteria for each venue as established by Infrastructure Ontario (IO) and the respective local municipality.

IO Drove Process

Essentially, it was IO driving the entire process. They produced a very detailed terms of reference (TOR), with help from City staff, in which all three bidders had to follow. A fourth consultant was initially hired by City staff to complete a base design for which all three bidders had to essentially follow upon which each individual bidder would add their touches.

Throughout the bidding process, we had to make presentations based upon our preliminary designs (three total) at specific milestones. After the first two presentations, IO would have the opportunity to select some of the key ideas from any of the three project teams and re-define the TOR to include these changes.

One example would be the rotation of the stadium. Our first preliminary design chose to rotate the field for the reasons stated in the media (wind, sun, etc.) and IO incorporated this change into the overall TOR which all three bidders had to follow in subsequent designs. At no point throughout the process did we see the other two designs and/or presentations.

One of the big drawbacks for this setup was that the individual venues did not necessarily get the best or most cost efficient design. But rather IO ultimately looked at all four venues together as a package and selected an overall winner. Thus, "Ontario Sport Solutions" had the best overall package, but may or may not have had the best Soccer Stadia design or Velodrome design.

The reason behind combining the venues to follow this bidding process was primarily due to time constraints. It was felt that this was the best approach to ensure each venue was substantially completed by a hard date, typically one year prior to the games. It also narrowed the pre-selected bidders down substantially.

Unnecessary Bundling

I personally felt this process was completed unnecessary for a couple of reasons. For one, each venue was handled separately both internally, each had different IO members overseeing the process, and each was in a different municipality.

There was no reason why they couldn't have written it up as four separate contracts. A separate bid solely on the University of Toronto (Scarborough) Aquatics Centre had just recently concluded prior.

The majority of the other proposed venues were being bid on separately. Some were even given to a project team without having to be bid on! Splitting it up would have ensured that all four venues would get the best design possible for the money.

Secondly, the total contract value wasn't weighted evenly between all four venues. The total value of the contract was $206M, of which three quarters was apparently for the Hamilton Stadium.

I'm leery of that figure, as I know at the time of me working on the Velodrome project, the projected value of the facility was $45M. Add in $149M stated for the Hamilton stadium and you've already almost maxed out the full contract value. Last I heard, the York University stadium was in the $50M range, so I expect the stated contract value is for 'hard' costs only.

I don't recall much about the City of Toronto venues. I believe they were just freshening up three athletic fields to serve as training venues. Given all the talk about accountability, especially in construction contracts, and you can see by combining the bids into one contract, you have the ability to shift funds around with greater ease if (more likely when) overruns are experienced.

No Incentive to Cut Costs

The final disadvantage to this bidding process is that a construction budget was set right from the get-go. All three teams created their respective designs to meet this budget. Each team was encouraged to propose unique design ideas to set themselves apart from the other two bidders.

So basically, right from day one, it was known that the full $150M was going to be spent on the Hamilton Stadium. At no point was there any incentive to cut costs. Rather, IO just wanted a unique design for a set price.

I think we can all agree that the renderings shown of the Hamilton venue fail to demonstrate any "unique" design aspects.

In my experience, typical municipal projects I have bid on in the past are scored on a weighted value where cost would often be the largest component. In this case, it was primarily the prospective designs and project team experience that decided the winning bid.

Kevin Hollingworth is a young Professional Engineer currently employed in the Land Development industry working as a consulting engineer. He studied at McMaster and originally set up shop in the downtown core where he fell in love with the City of Hamilton but eventually drifted out to the suburbs to begin a family.

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By Public space Pete (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2012 at 09:15:45

I think we can agree that most people not having an interest are underwhelmed and Kevin provided a good insight into why it happened.
My own question was that, accepting location and style as now being done with, did anyone ask the locals about having people park on their lawns for 100 times per year, if as stated they want a lot more big events there. It seemed to get brushed over.
The second was that if we are turning over the other city entertainment facilities to private organizers, should this be included so we have a city wide approach to concerts etc.?
If these do not happen will we be left with a facility that can only be used for CFL football & semi-pro soccer sports events to attract crowds, again the old Ivor Wynne de ja vu?
Surely that would be the worst outcome; $150MM to shrink & rotate with no other sizable benefits, or the most expensive farmers market ever?

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted October 19, 2012 at 10:31:59 in reply to Comment 81971

The people who offer parking on their lawns do sobecause they want to. Not because they are forced to. Hopefully they will be able to continue this unique tradition if they'd like.

Second, I hope no is the answer to the handing a facility we just paid $150m for, for someone else to manage. Its a mostly cicic building with the cats minority use parnters. Their use just happens to be the most revenue wise. The site needs a proper website with a calendar of events, contact #'s for rentals and maps and I would think there is someone capable enough to bring a few concerts over the warmer months within our city. Perhaps this could be something sonic unyion run for strictly music entertainment events? Hoepfully it can have some good civic music use.

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted October 19, 2012 at 10:11:55

Thank you Kevin for your insights into the process that led to the generic design of the new stadium.

The core issue in Ontario in my opinion is that the term 'design' is most often used in ways that leads to such predictably problematic outcomes in most civic projects.

Engineers look at 'design' in a certain manner while architects look at 'design' in a certain manner.

What complicates things more is when you throw in city planners into the mix directed by bureaucrats who understand 'design' in a totally different manner - now you have the recipe for such an unholy mess.

Of all the professionals involved, architects most often are able to translate the term 'design' into some meaningful constructs that straddle the socio-cultural, aesthetic and engineering realms on account of their integrated educational experience.

Engineers and planners in Ontario and often across Canada simply lack the broader cultural/social education required to do justice to the process of creating meaningful architectural designs. With the exception of engineering giants like Arup from UK, most engineering companies rarely manage to deliver substantive projects in the architectural realm.

Almost all Engineer/Planner led projects of such type, most often than not end up in generic design banality or wild exuberance.

There is a reason why many older civic projects appear to have some design integrity - the reason being that the older practice of 'project delivery' primarily had 'design' architects (diff.from project architects) who led the project - with engineers/planners as sub-consultants on the team.

I don't know what went wrong here with Cannon Design (being an architectural firm of some stature, which expanded rapidly threw acquisitions of smaller firms), but their underwhelming design response could only point to one factor, and that is, this most probably is not an architect led design project - as it clearly has the fingerprints all over of being worked on by an engineer/planner mindset.

Take a look at these pictures below and tell me if you don't experience a monumental déjà vu:

McMahon, Calgary:

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IWS:

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Mahesh P. Butani

Comment edited by Mahesh_P_Butani on 2012-10-19 10:29:07

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By Ottawa St Merchant (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2012 at 10:16:47

This stadium is a total disaster in terms of design and location. Another Hamilton Fiasco....

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By Engineering Student (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2012 at 10:28:28

This issue has been raised in our Engineering class at Mcmaster. The professor presented the design on the smart board and we as a learning group evaluated the design aspect of the stadium. As a group we concluded that their were many design flaws based on the criteria that the stadium was to have. As a lesson many of the engineering students came up with great stadium ideas to improve on the excisting design. The professor reserved judgement at the beginning but at the end said this project was a failure in terms of structural design and features. He also said the design aspects were considered basic and in his own words old school design.

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By basil15 (registered) | Posted October 30, 2012 at 19:21:02 in reply to Comment 81975

It is old school. Nobody builds that style anymore. Its a bowl design thats being used everywhere not this bushleague cheap desighn.

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By abstract (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2012 at 15:18:31 in reply to Comment 81975

Jesus. Engineering professors area already rating the stadium a failure. Engineers who worked on the project are calling it a failure. It's like we're getting ready to buy ourselves the worst christmas present ever.

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By basil15 (registered) | Posted October 30, 2012 at 19:17:21 in reply to Comment 81992

I agree, so pathetic. So Hamilton. Check out Winnepeg's new stadium, now thats a pro stadium, not this minor league shit hole.

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted October 19, 2012 at 17:23:06 in reply to Comment 81992

And nobody to STOP THE INSANITY!

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By Today (anonymous) | Posted October 19, 2012 at 20:12:46

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By Today (anonymous) | Posted October 20, 2012 at 11:01:05

I will say RightSaidFred that while I'm personally not a fan of the West Harbour site for a stadium for a few reasons (imagine if this "debacle" of a stadium as some suggest it is, was put there at WH) for aesthetic reasons, I will agree with Fred Eisenberger that if the city was so adamant about having the PanAm Stadium at WH, then they should have just put it there regardless of what the TiCats and mouthpiece Scott Mitchell said. In the end, the Cats would have played out of a stadium at WH no question in my mind.

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted October 22, 2012 at 13:30:05 in reply to Comment 82012

The initial intent was for a 5000 seat stadium for a legacy for amateur atheletes in the city. That's all I ever wanted. The Tiger Who?
Too many people smelled 'free' gov't money and lost their heads. But I do think you are correct. Had we (Bratina & council) stuck to their guns for WH, the Cats would have had no other place to go and they would have followed and Mouth Mitchell would have publicly blamed the city for years to come.

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By What could have been... (anonymous) | Posted October 20, 2012 at 14:14:42

This whole thing is an absolute disaster. Imagine what could have been down in the west harbour. The stadium could have provided the catalyst for a lot of development there. But without the private sector being involved, we get what we see now.

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

And now we see that some of that potential is going to Burlington...

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/814578--20-storey-shadows-on-the-burlington-go-station

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By highwater (registered) | Posted October 20, 2012 at 16:40:04 in reply to Comment 82016

There's no private sector involvement in IW2 either, but for some reason that's no longer a problem.

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By What could have been... (anonymous) | Posted October 20, 2012 at 18:18:08 in reply to Comment 82026

But the private sector tried to get involved in west harbour...

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By rednic (registered) | Posted October 20, 2012 at 16:58:05 in reply to Comment 82026

But wait didn't the TiCats buy the name rights ? Thats Private sector right? (ducks)

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted October 20, 2012 at 15:09:52 in reply to Comment 82016

And it's happening in Burlington without a stadium. ;-)

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By What could have been... (anonymous) | Posted October 20, 2012 at 15:46:18 in reply to Comment 82019

on a site that doesn't have the same remediation issues as the west harbour... That was the whole point. The stadium would have allowed for that site to be developed in a way that remediation could have been done at a much lower cost.

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted October 20, 2012 at 16:05:17 in reply to Comment 82020

I thought the point was about the redevelopment.

Remediation costs may be lower for a development like a stadium (as opposed to say, residential) but they're still costs. What would be the difference in them for other land uses? I don't know, and I don't think anyone had (or has now) a clear idea about the amount.

I just think this is a very self-limiting view.

And - this isn't directed at anyone specifically - it's such a typical Hamilton point of view.

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By all about the benjamins (anonymous) | Posted October 20, 2012 at 16:08:39 in reply to Comment 82022

Here ya go...

http://councillorbradclark.blogspot.ca/2011/09/west-harbour-remediation-costs-hamilton.html

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By ScreamingViking (registered) | Posted October 20, 2012 at 16:16:22 in reply to Comment 82023

They're still estimates. With a huge range.

If remediation is the main goal, why not just make that parkland instead now (in the way Bayfront Park was created).

If the economic benefits of a development outweigh the costs, land like that will still see redevelopment. And I think there is a strong case for that on the west harbour site. And my personal view is that the stadium would not have provided the same economic benefits that some other mixed-use developments will.

Comment edited by ScreamingViking on 2012-10-20 16:20:21

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By cardinal (anonymous) | Posted October 20, 2012 at 14:29:19 in reply to Comment 82016

development around Burlington Go stations has long predated the stadium fiasco. Also 'what we see now' in the west harbour is the W condos rising beautifully, the whitestar condos finally though the OMB process, the Rheem plant gone, a lot of momentum to move the railyards, and an active North End Neighbours committed to complete streets. I'm certain especially once the Go station gets built the WH will do just fine. We should all breathe a sigh of relief this monstrosity is not getting built there - and based on what we've seen there is no reason to think the plans would have been any different there.

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By What could have been... (anonymous) | Posted October 20, 2012 at 14:51:42 in reply to Comment 82017

But if the private sector, including the whitestar group and the Molinaro's had been involved in the process, their input would have been included. Maybe not exactly how the whitestar group's design looked, but there would have been alot more money included for something with a lot more aesthetic appeal. The synergy that could have happened with the stadium, the private sector, and the new GO station across from Liuna Station could have moved us forward light years from where we are now.

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By jason (registered) | Posted October 20, 2012 at 15:58:18 in reply to Comment 82018

Heck, we had Frank Gehry interested. Not now.

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By c (anonymous) | Posted October 20, 2012 at 17:03:38 in reply to Comment 82021

that was a rumour by Forum equity - had nothing to do with the pan-am games. Whatever Gehry was proposing was most certainly not a pan-am stadium and there's no reason to think the stadium was going to provide any spin-off benefits for whatever it was. If Gehry is interested in Hamilton then the pitch was based on the potential of the city, not a corrupt public-private con job foisted on us.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted October 20, 2012 at 21:24:16

The more I look at the picture the angrier I get. The stadium, the location, the reasoning (not), all of it. Something HAS to be done about this, at least some aspects of the whole scenario have to change. Please.

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By Mainstreet (anonymous) | Posted October 22, 2012 at 07:26:09

Lets give those that got their finger into this massive boondogle some well earned credit.After all,they seemed to have preserved the lawn parking industry.That development should be heralded since its the only development there ever was around Ivor Wynne and the only one that ever will be.

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted October 22, 2012 at 14:45:13 in reply to Comment 82035

And the only related industry that Uncle Bobby can't get his hands on. Stay tuned for the attempt to have the police crack down on it if BY builds a parking lot a mile away and needs to pay for the land and the shuttle needed to get to and from the stadium.

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By Today (anonymous) | Posted October 22, 2012 at 19:39:10

Why did Uncle Bobby agree to IWS2 in the first place?

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted October 23, 2012 at 06:39:22 in reply to Comment 82058

Because a new stadium gets built for his team without him having to pay a cent towards it.

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted November 01, 2012 at 13:23:41 in reply to Comment 82073

I hear you ... but all do respect ... if you have ever rented a home or an apt ... and it need plomming done and a new furnace or a new roof whould you pay for it , its the same thing ... Bob Young won no matter what ... we as tax payers are paying for it .. Oh or was it a Fund the city had when they sold Horizon ohh wait again its still our tax money .. lol if city owned Horizon so we owned it as well as tax payers :)

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted October 26, 2012 at 18:08:12 in reply to Comment 82073

BY rents the stadium. It's not his stadium why would a tenant pay for a new roof or furnace? It's the landlords responsibility. The Cats are just tenants. The stadium is the City's.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted October 29, 2012 at 20:03:10 in reply to Comment 82326

Then it should go where the city wants it. The moment he refused was the moment he needed to step up with some hard cash. If not, WH it should have been.

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By Today (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2012 at 15:28:40

How much did the Bulldogs pay towards Copps? Just curious, of course.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted October 26, 2012 at 18:04:35 in reply to Comment 82097

The Bulldogs weren't around when we built Copps. We had the Steelhawks that moved from Mountain Arena to Copps when built. They were an OHL team and some of the most exciting hockey I've ever seen, Keith Gretzky, Probert, Shane Corson, every game was packed standing room only at Mountain Arena. They threatened to leave if they didn't get a bigger arena, then they could only fill 5,000 seats in 18,000 seat Copps, they left to Niagara and are now the Erie Otters, who oddly enough were almost coming back to Copps last year. I would like to see another OHL team as well Bulldogs. London Knights sell out every game at JLC.

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted November 01, 2012 at 13:16:18 in reply to Comment 82324

I hear you ... it juste goses to show you that SOME pls in hamilton are NEVER happy with what they have blah blah blah

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted October 24, 2012 at 10:58:10 in reply to Comment 82097

What dose the Dos have anything thing too do with IWS2 they have there own problem trying to get pls to see there games ... 4 towands juste donèt cut it anymore ... im sure when Laval has the Arena built thats were the Bulldogs are going to go

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted October 23, 2012 at 15:45:52 in reply to Comment 82097

Pretty sure the Bulldogs were willing to play wherever the city put the arena.

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted November 01, 2012 at 13:27:20 in reply to Comment 82098

Bulldogs can pay the city what ever they whant its still belongs to Montreal unles the Bulldog owner has another NHL team that whants to move here .. nottttt ... not after they see the bulldogs attendents for the past 10 years

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted November 02, 2012 at 08:40:52 in reply to Comment 82520

comment from banned user deleted

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By pretty sure? (anonymous) | Posted October 23, 2012 at 19:33:44

I know for a fact the Bulldogs have proposed a smaller arena at a different location. The owner has complained about the half way house and other safety issues for years

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted October 29, 2012 at 09:47:07 in reply to Comment 82102

You got that wright ... a smaler venue is going to be at Laval ... the shovel has already started digging for one thing its going to be closer to Montreal .. and i think the Habs gave Hamilton alot of years for subpare crowds

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted October 24, 2012 at 13:08:09 in reply to Comment 82102

What 'safety issues'?

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By pretty sure? (anonymous) | Posted October 24, 2012 at 13:29:45 in reply to Comment 82124

the half way house mentioned in my post along with the panhandler population and the lack of street lighting, general isolation and lack of security safety issues in many of the parking lots are subjects he touched on to name just a few. You may not agree with him, and for the record I don't, but that's what he's been harping on for years

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted October 24, 2012 at 13:41:25 in reply to Comment 82125

I could maybe agree with security issues in the parking lots but street lighting is the same as every street in the city and I walked out of Springsteen on Sunday night along with 18000 other people and I honestly didn't see one panhandler like I see after Leaf/Jays games.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted October 24, 2012 at 15:26:01 in reply to Comment 82127

comment from banned user deleted

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted October 24, 2012 at 16:39:33 in reply to Comment 82129

You brought up the panhandlers issue at Copps. Cities with stadiums/arenas might just share the same issues Brother.

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted October 24, 2012 at 17:35:06 in reply to Comment 82134

comment from banned user deleted

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By RightSaidFred (registered) | Posted October 25, 2012 at 09:30:38 in reply to Comment 82136

Yes, I always try to encourage more panhandlers everywhere I go.....WOW!

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By banned user (anonymous) | Posted November 01, 2012 at 10:11:44 in reply to Comment 82159

comment from banned user deleted

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By Today (anonymous) | Posted October 24, 2012 at 11:08:02

At any rate, the Dogs have a sweet deal at Copps and I'm not begrudging the team or it's owner at all for extracting what they can out of the city. Not at all.

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted October 31, 2012 at 08:26:08 in reply to Comment 82119

According to an article by Andrew Dreschel today in the Hamilton Spectator today, Global Spectrum has notified Hamilton city council that another hockey organization has expressed interest in playing at Copps Coliseum and more time is needed to explore possible new leases with the Bulldogs and/or the Otters. A source has told Dreschel that it is the Erie Otters of the OHL. http://www.thespec.com/news/local/articl...

There is local historical significance attached to the Erie Otters franchise. Wikipedia states that the franchise used to be Hamilton Tiger Cubs/Red Wings/Fincups/Steelhawks in previous incarnations: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erie_Otters

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted October 31, 2012 at 22:48:42

An article by Adam Carter on the CBC Hamilton website reports that the Erie Otters management is denying that their franchise is considering a move to Hamilton. The club recently signed a two year renewal of their lease in Erie. Therefore, the identity of the second team interested in playing at Copps Coliseum remains a mystery.

Meanwhile, Hamilton Bulldogs owner Michael Andlauer is looking for a four to five year lease at Copps Coliseum and strongly believes that Hamilton cannot support both an AHL team and an OHL team. http://www.cbc.ca/hamilton/news/story/20...

Comment edited by RenaissanceWatcher on 2012-10-31 22:50:25

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By Conrad66 (registered) | Posted November 01, 2012 at 12:55:05 in reply to Comment 82497

Thats Hamilton for you , starting rumors already ... what a nice way to welcome the next owner of Copps Globle welcome to Hamilton the city with all kinds of rumors .. lol

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted November 07, 2012 at 07:58:47

Here is the link to an article by Joey Coleman titled "City Staff Likely to Reject Pan Am Stadium Zoning Variances": http://hamont.ca/en/Nov12/Hamilton_City_...

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