Revitalization

Mayor Gets Tough on Stadium Site

By Ryan McGreal
Published April 13, 2010

this blog entry has been updated

Kudos to Mayor Fred Eisenberger for taking a firm stand this weekend against the Ti-Cats campaign of fear, uncertainty and doubt over the planned location for the Pan Am Stadium.

Reminding the Ti-Cats that they are "minority" partners in the stadium construction, the Mayor made it clear that with the city fronting most of the money for the stadium, the location must reflect what's best for the city as a whole.

I love the Tiger-Cats as much as anyone, and we want to make sure they are well-placed and looked after. But there's a bigger economic pie for the city we have to be mindful of

He added that a number of investors have been attracted by the potential of the West Harbour site - a potential that goes far beyond the marginal value of a sign visible from the QEW.

With a breath of fresh air in a city notorious for wavering, Eisenberger stated:

They've very keen on west harbour and see how important this is. We can't let them down by wavering on this.

A highway-accessible, suburban stadium location may provide economic benefits for the sports team owners, but represents an economic black hole for the city.

A self-contained facility surrounded by acres of parking does absolutely nothing to catalzye complementary development around it, whereas a compact, urban facility integrated into a neighbourhood actually generates some value through new tax assessments around it.

Realistically, a stadium will never be a big money-maker for a city, but with the right location and the right form, it can at least pay its own way and serve as a positive image booster. As Eisenberger put it:

People have judged Hamilton by a view from Skyway Bridge, now there's a chance to show the world a beautiful view of the city. West harbour does that.

The Ti-Cats recently sent what sounds a lot like a push-poll to their season ticket holders. With a focus on parking, 'tolerable' walking distances, expectation of 'parking experience', highway access and integrated amenities, the poll is a social scientist's nightmare of leading questions all pushing the respondents towards the foregone conclusion the Ti-Cats management have already decided.

It's interesting that the Ti-Cats would decide to get involved now, long after Council already voted to approve the West harbour site.

Our municipal government is not always very good at public consultation when developing a city policy. In fairness, they are getting better (though some departments are more enthusiastic about engagement than others), but there's definitely more room for improvement.

However, if there's one recent decision that was debated ad nauseam, it was the Pan Am Stadium location.

(Incidentally, it's also interesting that the Ti-Cats seem to think they would be entitled to the revenues from the naming rights, and not the partner that is putting up more than half the capital investment for the facility.)

Ti-Cat owner Bob Young, the highly successful CEO of Red Hat and founder of the Lulu on-demand publishing company, is presumably a rational, open-minded guy.

I hope he's willing to make a final decision on where he can support a stadium location based on the extensive economic studies showing that urban stadiums are more sustainable and provide better value.


Update: here's a link to the actual survey:

Thanks to RTH reader "Vod K" for sharing the link in a comment.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan writes a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. He also maintains a personal website and has been known to post passing thoughts on Twitter @RyanMcGreal. Recently, he took the plunge and finally joined Facebook.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 10:40:05

I know someone who took that Ticat poll and they said it was embarrassing. It was completely set-up to try to gain support for Confederation Park or LaFarge.

It's sad that our only pro sports team is more interested in naming rights (which, at the end of the day won't be that much different from the west harbour to the east harbour - remember, all those eyes passing the stadium at the west harbour are still human eyes even though they aren't in a car) instead of building a legacy for generations to come.

The mayor is finally stepping up and showing real leadership on an issue that needs it. Let's be real. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity based on the fact that our current stadium is 80 years old.

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By Vod K (anonymous) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 11:28:29

Naming rights would likely work out something like this:

-Cats pay $X the city for rights to the naming rights. Stadium is now "Ticat field"
-Cats sell the naming rights to a company for $X+1. Stadium is now "insert company name here field"
-City gets $X. Ticats keep the $+1

Best example would be in Miami where the Dolphins own the naming rights and for a brief time had no takers and they played in Dolphin's stadium.

Hope this helps...

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By highwater (registered) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 12:44:07

^Which raises the obvious question why the city wouldn't just deal directly with INSERT NAME HERE and get their $X+1. Do you know of any other examples? I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the Dolphins use their stadium more than 11 days a year.

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By synxer (registered) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 12:53:07

When Bob Young told us to "think outside the box" and hinted at Burlington I knew we were about to fight on the stadium location.

Mayor Fred is thinking about the long drive (increase image -> increase interest -> sponsored stadium naming rights BECAUSE of Hamilton's better image) opposed to the initial benefits of sticking the stadium by the highway and then eventually paying for it in the future.

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By matthewsweet (registered) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 12:54:47

I have firmly believed for a while now that the Ticats were blindsided when council actually made a decision on the stadium site on the very date they said they would, instead of putting the decision off. It explains why now, ostensibly after it's too late, they are up in arms, after ample opportunity before the council vote to voice concerns and pressurize the city.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 13:04:15

the Ticats were blindsided when council actually made a decision on the stadium site on the very date they said they would

WIN. Your comment made my day transitstudent.

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By Vod K (anonymous) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 13:05:32

Here is the servey here. Click on the part that says "click here" to access it. Heck fill it out of you want.

http://www.ticats.ca/page/sshupdateapr6

The survey really gets skewed in the grading section. You will see the middle row which most people would perceive as "neutral" is actually labeled "somewhat important". I wish they would put little addendums by them like "in stadium restaurant (if we put this where there are no other eating alternatives)" and "in stadium patio (if you were outside surrounded by industry)or "in stadium patio (provided it doesn't become another Hess Village).

This might be wishful thiking but I do think this will go in the West harbour with the Cats as will ful tenants. I think this is just a big public negotiation. The cats will go to West harbour but not without additional incentives.

Remember when the Air Canada Centre was built? At that point the Leafs and Raptors were building their own seperate arenas. Well the Leafs said the ACC (then only the Raptors potential home) was "the worst place to put an arena" even though theirs was planned 2 blocks over on the other side of Union Station. One year later the Leafs own the Raptors and the "worst possible location" ACC. In other words- If the surrounding dollars are right, the lousy locations suddenly become good ones.

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By Pork & Pigskin (anonymous) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 13:12:40

Florida stadiums are masterpieces of optics and PR spin.

$250m government handout for Dolphin Stadium upgrades? >> bit.ly/azxISA
$2.4b price tag for Marlin Stadium? >> bit.ly/5MsBJs

Naming rights for the Pan Am Stadium is a canard. Even in the best-case scenario, we’re looking at a $5-10 million score for a 20-year contract.

And as poorly as the city is run sometimes, since when do we look to the Ticats, a team hemorrhaging fans and dollars, for pointers on a successful business model?

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By Vod K (anonymous) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 13:17:35

"Florida stadiums are masterpieces of optics and PR spin.

$250m government handout for Dolphin Stadium upgrades? >> bit.ly/azxISA
$2.4b price tag for Marlin Stadium? >> bit.ly/5MsBJs

Naming rights for the Pan Am Stadium is a canard. Even in the best-case scenario, we’re looking at a $5-10 million score for a 20-year contract. "

Just to be clear, I was just using that as an example of how a team get naming rights money from a public stadium, not an endorsement of it.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 13, 2010 at 13:19:54

Here's the link to the actual survey:

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By z jones (registered) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 13:30:51

Here's all the questions just in case the Ticats take down the survey.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats Stadium Survey

The original data collected in this survey is anonymous, private and confidential and will only be used by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Football Club for internal research purposes. We intend to use a summary version of the results in a presentation to the City of Hamilton and the Pan Am Games Committee. Upon completion of our analysis, all of the original data from the participants will be destroyed. We, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, adhere to Canadian privacy laws. This survey should take between five and 10 minutes to complete.

1) What method of transportation do you prefer to use to get to Ivor Wynne Stadium?

What method of transportation do you prefer to use to get to Ivor Wynne Stadium?

  • Car
  • Public Transit
  • Walk
  • Other (please specify)

2) How do you expect to travel to the new stadium at the West Harbour?

How do you expect to travel to the new stadium at the West Harbour?

  • Car
  • Public transit
  • Walk
  • Other (please specify)

3) If Go Transit service was available to the new stadium, regardless of the location, would you use it to attend a Ticats game?

  • Yes
  • No

4) When you attend a game at Ivor Wynne Stadium, how long of a walk is it from your typical parking lot to the stadium?

  • Five minutes or less
  • Six to 10 minutes
  • 11 to 15 minutes
  • More than 15 minutes

5) With a new stadium, what would you expect a reasonable walk to be from your parking spot to the new home of the Ticats?

  • Five minutes or less
  • Six to 10 minutes
  • 11 to 15 minutes
  • More than 15 minutes

6) Would you park in a lot that required a shuttle bus to and from the stadium because the walk was in excess of 15 minutes?

  • Yes
  • No

7) Using the scale below, please rate your overall parking experience at Ivor Wynne Stadium.

  • Parking experience: Unacceptable Negative Neutral Positive Excellent

8) Based on what you know and your past experiences with the West Harbour, please rate what you think your parking experience will be using the scale below.

  • Parking experience: Unacceptable Negative Neutral Positive Excellent
  1. Would you like an area for tailgating at the new stadium?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. Would you be interested in purchasing Grey Cup tickets if we were to acquire the game in the new stadium within the first five years?
  • Yes
  • No
  1. Using the scale below, please rate the importance of the following amenities to you at the new stadium.
  • In-stadium restaurant: Not Important Somewhat Important Very Important
  • In-stadium pre-game patio: Not Important Somewhat Important Very Important
  • Sightlines: Not Important Somewhat Important Very Important
  • Weather protection: Not Important Somewhat Important Very Important
  • Luxury suites: Not Important Somewhat Important Very Important
  • Concessions: Not Important Somewhat Important Very Important
  • Washrooms: Not Important Somewhat Important Very Important
  • Seat construction: Not Important Somewhat Important Very Important
  • Parking: Not Important Somewhat Important Very Important
  • Highway access: Not Important Somewhat Important Very Important

12) Would you be interested in premium seats that include the best seats in the house, access to a private restaurant, VIP amenities, and front of the line access to other shows and events at the new stadium?

  • Yes
  • No

13) Please provide any additional comments you wish to share with us.

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By vod K (anonymous) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 14:07:30

And as poorly as the city is run sometimes, since when do we look to the Ticats, a team hemorrhaging fans and dollars, for pointers on a successful business model?

Or Primus for that matter....


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primus_Telecom
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primus_Canada

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By kdslote (registered) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 14:09:36

Did anyone else catch the CHCH interview with Eisenberger on Friday's 11pm news? In presenting his firm stance on stadium location, he also conceded that the window to have LRT completed in time for the Pan Am Games has closed - meaning construction can start no sooner than after the 2015 games.

I've always been on the fence about building a new stadium. If we can have LRT and a new stadium, I'm ok with it and I agree that the West Harbour is the best location.

But, if the stadium and Pan Am Games are going to compromise LRT in any way, then I say let Markham and Mississauga duke it out for the stadium and let's focus our efforts and our dollars on LRT.

Admittedly, the Pan Am Games have the potential to briefly improve our city's battered image. If we are talking long term legacy though an energy-efficient, reliable, and accessible transit system has the potential to have lasting and far-reaching positive effects - particularly within the 'Code Red' neighbourhoods that LRT will pass through.

Comment edited by kdslote on 2010-04-13 13:09:52

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted April 13, 2010 at 14:45:24

Did anyone else catch the CHCH interview with Eisenberger on Friday's 11pm news?

I didn't catch it, but I've been hearing rumours about what he said. I've put in a couple of requests to the mayor's office to clarify his understanding and position on this.

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By alrathbone (registered) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 14:48:54

What's the deal with it being hard to find from the main Ticats page? It's almost like they only want certain people voting...

Also; Holy non-random sampling Batman!

This poll is garbage. I hope someone in the mainstream media calls them on it.

Comment edited by alrathbone on 2010-04-13 13:49:47

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 16:35:08

Good for Mayor Eisenberger!

He needs to do more of this. If they aren't onside, call them out!

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 16:56:06

Since the city is putting up the majority of the cash it seams a no brainer that they get to decide the location where it is built. I am very disappointed that the city could not use the help of a very successful business man to help them in their decision. It would seem to me that anybody that successful in business would have something to add to a very complex decision.

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By jason (registered) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 20:02:22

It would seem to me that anybody that successful in business would have something to add to a very complex decision.

They have. They want it next to Columbia Chemicals and a highway.
How some businesses survive is a real mystery.

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By alrathbone (registered) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 22:20:55

"They have. They want it next to Columbia Chemicals and a highway. How some businesses survive is a real mystery."

Actually the city needs someone with business acumen on the CITY's side, not on the side of another partner who has different interests. It is entirely possible, that from the POV of the TiCats organization that location is ideal.

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By Honest Ed (anonymous) | Posted April 14, 2010 at 00:05:35

Ticat fans are too fat to walk. I say we put it out in the middle of the bay and they can float out on their bellies.

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By Where? (anonymous) | Posted April 14, 2010 at 13:36:09

So why not select a site that is close to local and regional public transit, as well as roads and parking? Why favour a site that is ill served by any of these? People have to get there somehow.

Again, King, Main, the 403. Fast, efficient bus service on King and Main. Rapid GO transit on 403. Rapid GO transit on the CP rail line that passes between Dundurn and the 403. Lots of potential parking a short walk away on Frid St. and Kay Drage Park. And yes, the 403 and King and Main to feed them. Lots of places along King, Main, Dundurn for commercial development to benefit from the stadium draw, such as it is.

Okay, the stadium should serve the interests of the city as well as the sports club tenant. But if the commercial potential is minimized, how does that improve the other opportunities? Do people still not need to get to the stadium to make use of it?

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By urban_planner (anonymous) | Posted April 14, 2010 at 17:15:37

Kudos to Fred for standing up for once. THumbs down to the Ti Cats they claim to be people of the community now is the time to really show that side.

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By TnT (registered) | Posted April 16, 2010 at 15:46:13

I think west end is a good spot for being close to everything. However with the closing of Lakeport what about the Eastwoodpark and old brewry sight for the stadium and link the whole thing into a major park/commercial development?

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By robert_carley (registered) - website | Posted April 17, 2010 at 09:47:33

Never mind wasting money on a new stadium. Use the money to help families that live in the so called Red Zone to have a better future.

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