Sports

Some 'Compromise': Pan Am Facilitator Recommends Highway Stadium

By Ryan McGreal
Published July 06, 2010

Yet again, Hamilton is poised to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

In a draft Report of the Facilitator [PDF link] obtained by the Hamilton Spectator, Pan Am Stadium facilitator Michael Fenn recommends that the city consider an East Mountain stadium site at the intersection of the Red Hill Valley Parkway and the Lincoln Alexander Parkway.

The site was suggested during a late presentation from Metrolinx and the Ontario Realty Corporation, which manages government-owned land and which owns the suggested property.

According to the report, the East Mountain site meets the Hamilton Tiger-Cats' objectives of "ready highway access, 'surge' capacity of local roadways, substantial and convenient proprietary parking, and access to regional transit" as well as maximizing revenue-generating activities and offering "prominent visibility for enhanced 'naming rights' opportunities".

It also allows for rapid land assembly, reduces the time and cost associated with environmental assessments and avoids the potential for objection from local residents.

The report focused prominently on the idea of a "driveway-to-driveway" experience for Ticats fans, concluding, "Accommodating automobile traffic is crucial to stadium success."

Fenn recommends that the city "give immediate consideration to acquiring)" the lands at the East Mountain site. The lands are currently owned by the Ontario Realty Corporation. He also recommends that the city continue assembling land for the West Harbour site, as it "will be required for redevelopment purposes irrespective of the stadium decision."

Fenn also recommends that if this site is chosen, the city's contribution should be reduced in favour of increased private investment - including more investment from the Ticats - so that the city has more money to invest in "downtown and waterfront projects".

While Fenn notes the city's criteria in selecting a Pan Am stadium location - fiscal goals, community redevelopment, economic development - his report does not explain how a stadium next to the highway and surrounded by thousands of parking spots will achieve these objectives.

The economic research on stadium locations clearly demonstrates that suburban, highway-accessible stadiums are an economic black hole that do not generate any spinoff development to benefit the city.

The closest the report comes to explaining how the East Mountain location would meet the city's goals is when it suggests that the city could reduced its financial contribution to the stadium and spend the money other downtown revitalization projects instead.

Note that this is still a draft report and might change before Fenn presents it to Council on July 7.

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 Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 06, 2010 at 08:00:51

It's hard to read the Facilitator's notes on the disagreements between the City and the Ticats and not conclude that the Ticats were simply being intransigent:

The parties disagreed on the ability of the West Harbour site to provide the appropriate level of local roadway access, despite the macro-level analysis provided by transportation consultants IBI Group indicating that the site could meet transportation demands. Similar lack of agreement continues between the parties in respect of the adequacy of highway access and the availability of parking, both volume and convenience.

The city has traffic studies and the examples of successful urban stadiums across North America, whereas the Ticats have the threat of picking up their toys and going home.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 06, 2010 at 08:37:51

This is interesting: in response to yesterday's notice by Mary Gallagher, deputy clerk for the city, that:

the report of Facilitator Michael Fenn respecting Pan Am Stadium will be considered by Committee of the Whole at a special meeting to be convened immediately following Board of Health on Wednesday, July 7, 2010.

Councillor Brad Clark replied late last night, asking:

When will we get the report?

I thought we had moved to a new place where we were to receive the reports 48 hours in advance.

I'm not sure if the draft copy obtained by the Spectator qualifies.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 08:40:05

What, we're going to throw out our plans and build some asshat stadium in the middle of nowhere because some deadbeat tenant that plays ten games a year and gets subsidized over a million bucks wants more parking??

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By arienc (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 08:57:52

I'm gobsmacked.

It's quite obvious if this "location' pulled out of the hat at the last minute ends up receiving this investment, that Hamilton has no interest in being anything other than a suburb.

As a taxpayer, it's absurd that even more of our tax dollars are being thrown at subsidizing and living arrangement with no future. Now we're providing the circuses to go with it?

If I had a vote, I vote that the city provide exactly zero dollars towards paving over more acres of greenfield to put a stadium where most residents can't access without a car.

Either that, or the city demand that the Ti-Cats pay for the light rail transit link from the stadium to downtown.

Idiots!

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By synxer (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 09:17:49

It doesn't excite me in the least that Hamilton is doing all of this development in the East Mountain. I hate seeing all of these stucco supercentres being built outside the lines as downtown rots away.

Incentives, as Ryan has pointed out several times, is our only way to correct this attitude. I am hoping that the city slants the incentives for this project towards downtown and penalizes any effort to build it in East Mountain.

I don't know about most people, but for me it's alarming to drive down Rymal East and see farmland smacked up against the road.

We're not doing the right things here. Urban planning isn't just about capitalism.

Hamilton's one and only issue has always been image. How does it look when even our stadium can't stand to be here?

While kind of funny in context, I think Agent Smith said it best:

Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. -- Agent Smith, The Matrix

Comment edited by synxer on 2010-07-06 08:19:53

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 06, 2010 at 09:36:01

@arienc

Get used to it. I've long since accepted the fact that, no matter what the people living here and the mayor say... the business community has decided that Hamilton is a bedroom community of Mississauga and Toronto. It exists to provide cheap housing for people who will spend 3 hours a day trapped in their cars on the 403/QEW.

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By Seriouslyjadednow (anonymous) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 09:54:54

Ti-Cats Throw the Game.

Whoops, did Pete Mitchell and Bob Rose bet on the other team?

So much for the Pan-Am Games, LRT, new stadium, downtown renewal combination. Why bother with that win-win-win-win when lose-lose is so much SIMPLER.

In case there was anyone left who thought that all this was about anything other than building new homes -- Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present, the all new, all suburban, Binbrook Community Centre.

And the site has "access to regional transit", huh?

Did someone mention a monorail, lol?

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By randomguy (anonymous) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 09:57:38

What access is there to regional transit at all? This driveway to driveway thing is ridiculous. I predict if we build this, after twenty years we'll be looking at building another stadium to try and rectify this mistake.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 09:58:54

While kind of funny in context, I think Agent Smith said it best:

I'm reading RTH too much. First time I read this I thought you were quoting A Smith!

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By Tecumseh (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 10:04:41

There is no way the Pan-Am organizers or the Ontario government would ever go for an East Mountain location. With athletes staying in Toronto, and presumably significant numbers of spectators and media coming from Toronto and the vicinity, a large facility with effectively car-only access will never fly. As a fundamental part of the Pan-Am games it needs to be well-connected with public transit, preferably directly with Toronto with a GO station, as the west harbour location would be (and as the Confederation Park location could be, despite its other shortcomings).

What a joke it would be if media and spectators have a host of facilities well connected by transit in Toronto but for track events they'd have to hop on the highway and drive for over an hour out to Hamilton. It doesn't make any sense. Mr. Fenn and the City are focusing far too much on the needs of the Ticats and not on the whole reason we are even talking about this: the 2015 Pan-Am Games.

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By Bliss (anonymous) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 10:18:11

Following the inane shenanigans going on at City Hall is like rubbing against a cheese grater. This City is run by a bunch of pompous, pathetically power-drunk cowboys. Eisenberger earns as much respect, and is as effective at providing no nonsense leadership as the Cat in the Hat. If their arrogant idiocy didn't affect the well-being of hundreds of thousands of people it would be amusing.

And...in spite of my views of Hamilton City Council, I too am gobsmacked. If the east mountain site is actually considered a viable option, council will once again prove weak and backward in the face of challenge. Sad sad sad....

Hamiltonians need to shake things up and election time is coming. It's our own fault if these inept bozos get back in.

P.S. Di Ianni is not a viable option

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By arcadia (anonymous) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 10:18:23

too bad, I was looking forward to a giant stadium empty 360 days of the year at West Harbour. Now we'll get a giant stadium empty 350 days of the year on East Mountain. Can anyone answer me why the government is in the business of subsidizing football?

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 10:22:49

I predict if we build this, after twenty years we'll be looking at building another stadium to try and rectify this mistake.

No kidding. All we need to do is look at places like Cleveland, Detroit and most recently, Buffalo football fans are begging for a downtown stadium instead of their lame highway side parking lot. Why learn from other cities' mistakes when we can just make them ourselves all over again....

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 10:38:10

Since Hamilton is about to build our own Ralph Wilson Stadium, I thought I'd post some images from the Katz website in Edmonton for anyone interested in proper stadium development in an exciting, urban environment.
Apparently this part of the internet doesn't work in North Carolina.

http://www.revitalizedowntown.ca/los-ang...

In case anyone cares, here is the entertainment firm working with Katz:

http://www.aegworldwide.com/home.html

I guess all these cities are wrong though and our CFL team is gonna show em how to kick butt with a wicked countryside, freeway stadium district. Cause we all know how awesome those are:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on...

And before anyone replies with some nonsense about 'well, thats Michigan. they have no money for anything.' Here you have the new Detroit Lions stadium, and the new Detroit Tigers stadium:

http://imagecache2.allposters.com/images...

Ford Field under construction to the left of Comerica. But whatever. I'm sure they blew it. Anyone knows they should still be playing in the Pontiac Silverdome. It's way cooler than this.

Comment edited by jason on 2010-07-06 09:40:52

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 10:46:35

here's Ralph Wilson Stadium if anyone cares:

http://www.aboveallohio.com/galleries/Bu...

Welcome to Hamilton.

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By DanJelly (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 11:12:29

That location is terrible. It isn't city building, it's not environmentally responsible, it does nothing for downtown, it's not economically sustainable from a city perspective, it encourages sprawl, encourages drinking and driving and isn't worth even $45 million of city money.

Anyone siding with Mr. Young and his Cats on this should give serious thought to what this will mean for your team. He's essentially blackmailing the City into forcing the team out of Hamilton proper and into the suburbs so he can jack up ticket prices.

I hope the Hamilton Police are paying attention. The east mountain will be a great place to set up RIDE program if this stadium goes there. Oh sure the City will run shuttles for Ticats games, but what about other events? You'll have to drive to get there, pay for an expensive cab ride or face a long HSR ride from the lower city.

"Driveway to driveway" essentially means they don't care about people who don't drive or people who want to drink responsibly.

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By frank (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 11:29:23

Upon reading this I figured I'd ask my councilor what he thought of the "alternative" location and his reply was "Not good!!! Driveway to driveway theory is a 1950 theory". At least one vote against...

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 11:30:53

Who's your councillor?

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By AnneMariePavlov (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 11:54:18

Dan Jelly, if I could upvote you 50 times I would!!!

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By JM (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 12:08:36

Look on the bright side.... MAYBE we will see more frequent buses on the 43 StoneChurch route?! (one potential benefit)

So when the Pan Committee rejects this, and there is no stadium funding.... THEN what do we do? Where will the Ti-Cats go? Even the thought of them to go to Mississauga doesnt seem real.... there is almost no land to build a stadium! It would have to be off the 407.... so to get to 'FREE' PARKING there will be the TOLLS the fans will have to pay for on top of the now more expensive tickets!

I really hope theres some sort of miracle.... all we have when theres a bunch of stupids out there making the decisions.

JM

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By Upset (anonymous) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 12:13:42

No matter how you analyze this, the fact remains that Mayor Fred just can't seem to bring home the goods. I agree that Di anni may not be an option but fred is an even poorer one. I may have to vote for Mr Parkway. given that choice?!!

And as for the ticats? SInce i have to take my car, I may as well drive to Buffalo to see a real league play.

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By frank (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 12:16:51

Merulla

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 12:25:54

Ryan, this "compromise" reminds me of your April piece on the Middle Ground fallacy:

As one commenter pointed out yesterday, if one position is correct and and the other position is incorrect, the 'right answer' is not somewhere in the middle. The right answer is still the correct one.

Of course it's moot here, Fenn's "compromise" isn't in the middle ground at all, it's out in the boonies! What a screw up.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 12:27:07

I may have to vote for Mr Parkway.

Yeah because the guy that's more decisive at making bad decisions is better...

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 12:59:59

Even I'm surprised by this. This location is further away than anything else yet suggested, except possibly the airport. Even the airport location had the promise of some kind of higher order transit, at some point in time.

I'm appalled at the use of the phrase 'driveway to driveway experience' in promoting this stadium concept. Isn't that exactly what we're trying to get away from? The idea that fans shouldn't leave their cars until they're in an isolated stadium site completely undermines the economic spinoff component to this project, save for perhaps a few gas stations and drive thrus in the area.

And what good is a 'business' case that assumes the bulk of the investment will come from the city and higher govenment while the only profit that seems to matter is that of the Tiger Cats? What about the City's profit that it expects in the form of investment? It's not a business case at all, it's a charity case.

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By frank (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 13:07:59

I'm actually unclear as to how this is a compromise at all. The reasons for a downtown stadium were largely based on downtown renewal and ease of access to the majority of people. Plopping a stadium at the edge of a city and surrounding it with parking lots does nothing for downtown renewal and still prevents people who don't drive from attending the games... That's not a compromise, that's just changing the location for a highway stadium!

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 06, 2010 at 13:25:41

You're right, frank, it's not a compromise. It's entirely a capitulation to the Ticats and their narrow interests, at the expense of the city and its broad interests.

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 13:35:49

In other words, the compromise between a stadium close to downtown and one far away, is one even further away.

I haven't checked the skyscraper board yet but I predict a few 'I told you so's from those who claimed the west harbour was set up to fail. Of course it wasn't, but here are facing a location even worse than the alternative we'd previously rejected.

Comment edited by jonathan dalton on 2010-07-06 12:38:12

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By Jason (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 14:44:18

Don't waste your time on the SSP board. It became irrelevant many months ago.

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By Brioski8 (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 15:21:19

What is the relevant Hamilton discussion board then?

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 15:41:01

I have no clue, but it's not that one....if you dare share an opinion not held by the board police you get scolded and threatened with suspension and told how to post your comments etc..... most of it is just some guy copying and pasting the entire Spectator into SSP everyday. I find it easier to just browse the Spec website instead of browsing a bunch of different themed topics to read the identical articles.

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 15:58:20

I find both of these boards useful for finding out about local developments and satisfying my needs to argue about them. 2 different boards, each serves a purpose.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 16:24:51

and satisfying my needs to argue about them.

There's no shortage of things to argue about in Hamilton. LOL

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By Suburbanite (anonymous) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 16:47:02

And with the death of the harbour stadium, we will see LRT evaporate. Imagine you're a provincial transit advocate for a few minutes. Do you put LRT in Hamilton, taking people from one NDP riding to another, or do you set one up on Hurontario St. in Mississauga? I think the answer is very clear.

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By Jason (registered) | Posted July 06, 2010 at 18:03:15

Welcome to Hamilton: Its always 1960 here.

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By graefe (anonymous) | Posted July 07, 2010 at 10:31:27

Part of what's great about the TiCats (and the Alouettes, who have pretty much zero adjacent parking) is the lack of a driveway to driveway experience. It means you rub shoulders with fans for several blocks before and after the game, and maybe even halfway across the city on the bus.
I'm surprised that Metrolinx suggested this site, although it seems to me that the loss of West Harbour may give them a convenient excuse to delay or cancel plans for all-day train service into a new GO Station on James North...

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By blackdog (registered) | Posted July 08, 2010 at 07:27:46

I wonder how city council and Bob Young will feel when someone gets killed on the Red Hill or Linc driving from a Ticat game. Neither of those roads can handle the traffic. There is little or no public transit, and is just another example of urban sprawl. Contact your councillor and let them know how you feel.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 08, 2010 at 07:43:40

Neither of those roads can handle the traffic.

It's important to remember that RHVP/Linc is designed like a highway but functions as a glorified arterial road. It's two lanes in each direction with frequent interchanges (and the turning radii on the RHVP are very tight).

It's also important to remember that most people like to enjoy a few beers while watching the football game. Do we really want to put our stadium in a location in which driving is the only viable option? Transit is virtually non-existent, walking is impossible, and taxis would be prohibitively expensive.

Contact your councillor and let them know how you feel.

I can't stress this enough! Council makes their final decision on August 10 - we need to send a very clear message to them that putting the stadium on the East Mountain is a huge mistake.

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By obarkov (registered) | Posted July 08, 2010 at 23:38:39

Its funny, it seems that everyone downtown is a TiCat fan now.

If you put a stadium downtown the people from the East Mountain will have to drive to it... no?

Unless I have missed something the Italo/Portuguese and single speed bike riders from James N. are not the main market for the TiCats.

BTW Its not in the boonies there are 10s of thousands of people that live up/out there. Like it or not the mountain is where alot if the growth in Hamilton is happening. From what I see the downtown is de-populating... has been for years.

Would I wanna see the stadium at the Harbour... of course but lets not make this second stadium choice out to be so far away. Its actually about 15min from Ivor Wynne 12.2km and about 2 minutes more for the Pan Am games.

If this was the original site and the West Harbour was the second choice people would go apeshit, the harbour is being ruined!! Downtown is not a place for a stadium!! Its should be a park!!

BTW Fenn is the "facilitator" not the "Adjudicator"... different, this is proposed as a compromise plan, council still can choose any site it wants regardless of what the report says.

Plan A is still the one that council wants... I think... so lets see what happens.

Also since when is a stadium thats empty 350 days a year the silver bullet for downtown renewal?

Brad Clarks quote on CH really sums up how council thinks:

(paraphrasing) "The plan B site will save the city money because it will not need environmental remediation"

Hello... you guys just bought the west harbour and you will have to remediate it (don't you?) ... unless he is implying that the city is gonna sit on these toxic sites without remediating them... duh.

o

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 09, 2010 at 09:53:26

Clark is also the one who suggested we'll need to build another highway interchange at the proposed site which will cost far more than remediation so I don't see how he can make the bizarre claim that this site will save the city money.

BTW, no one is claiming that the stadium is the 'silver bullet' for downtown renewal, but pray tell, how does a stadium that sits empty 350 days a year justify the construction of a new highway interchange? At least the West Harbour site won't damage our efforts at downtown renewal, as this new proposal will.

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