As a resident of Hamilton who has traveled to many cities and cares deeply about the rebirth of our own city, I often feel like I'm living in a time warp here in Hamilton. Now we're going to trot out a 40 year old suburban stadium idea in 2010?
Maybe some of this is a result of self-fulfilling prophecy. A couple of years ago I remember telling my neighbours (who were all excited about the prospects of a 10 minute walk to the west harbour stadium) that if there's any city left on the continent that has the potential to screw up a decision like this and build the stadium out in no-man's land, far removed from downtown and the water, it was Hamilton.
Two years later, here we are. For clarification, I think council has been bang on the money so far in this debate. The Cats are out to lunch and I can back up that statement by filling your inbox with case after case of pro sports teams in North America demolishing highway-side, suburban stadiums so they can build new ones in the heart of their cities.
The Pontiac Silverdome was built for $55 million in 1975 and recently sold for $500,000. You can expect a similar return on investment here in a few decades if we make the same mistake. This is really what bugs me. We refuse to learn from other cities - their mistakes and their successes.
Michigan and Detroit, specifically, have been mired in a horrendous economic slump in the past couple of decades, yet their sports teams have recently opened state-of-the-art facilities downtown that are helping redevelop a run-down neighbourhood.
Go sit in Heinz Field in Pittsburgh and ask yourself, "would I rather have this experience in Hamilton, or the Ralph Wilson experience?" No contest in my opinion, and my many friends from Buffalo will confirm this with their desperation for a new downtown stadium. They hate the Ralph and its remote location.
I'm not interested in comparing us to sprawling sun-belt cities like Dallas. Our comparisons are Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Baltimore, and so on.
Please take 30 minutes this morning and do some research online about the spinoffs in the Baltimore stadium district or in the Pittsburgh stadium district before casting your vote for Hamilton's stadium. Here are some photos for inspiration.
Baltimore - massive redevelopment since they located their baseball stadium along the run-down inner harbour
We only get to make this decision once. The Cats and their so-called consultant are completely off the mark and I urge you not to be bought by their last minute tactics or pressure.
This Hamilton resident would rather lose the Pan Am Stadium instead of build it in the wrong location.
It's 2010, Hamilton. Let's act like it.
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