Sports

Council Caves for Quick Cash

By Ryan McGreal
Published July 07, 2010

Well, that didn't take long.

The Spectator's Emma Reilly has all the ugly details on today's Fenn Report meeting in a liveblog, now concluded, that traces Council's rapid capitulation to the smell of quick cash.

Some, ugh, 'highlights' of the meeting:

11:55 - Sam Merulla likes east mountain. "We have an opportunity here that is going to mitigate the financial impact," he said. "I just wish that we would have done this a year and a half ago - but better late than never."

It will mitigate some of the up front financial impact, but negate all the potential for stadium-oriented development down the road.

11:57 - Brad Clark wants an on/off ramp leading from the east mountain stadium to the Red Hill expressway.

Not to mention road widening and upgraded infrastructure - millions of dollars in additional costs that will ultimately be borne by the taxpayers, not by the Ticats. Millions of dollars that might otherwise have remediated an industrial brownfield nestled into a city neighbourhood with great potential.

Also, so much for "mitigating the financial impact".

12:10 - Several councillors have already hinted that the east mountain is the "ultimate destination." Both Tom Jackson and Bernie Morelli have asked why council is still even considering west harbour.

How about: city building, downtown redevelopment, public benefits? You know - the city's chief objectives?

12:27 - Okay. They mayor's finished speaking, Mitchell's back in the room. Eisenberger said he doesn't want to abandon the idea of west harbour, but he's willing to move forward with the consideration of the two sites. "I am not prepared to throw (west harbour) over the side of the boat," Eisenberger said.

Translation: I am prepared to throw West Harbour over the side of the boat, but one must keep up appearances.

12:37 - Brian McHattie just spoke out about how the tides seem to be turning away from west harbour. "I don't think that's progressive thinking," he said. "I'll be so bold, and no particular offence meant, but to me, this is all about private interest trumpting public interest."

Not that it will make any difference in a city where public money was born to flow into private interest.

McHattie also wants to look at another source of funding for the city's contribution, as the Future Fund was supposed to be for legacy projects. He argues the city shouldn't spend the last $60 million of that fund on something that doesn't fit that mandate.

A Future Fund implies a future. This Council appears incapable of seeing their decisions in terms of how they will shape the city's future.

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 z jones (registered) | Posted July 07, 2010 at 14:56:51

So typical of this back asswards city. First we build a municipal expressway. Then we build a suburban stadium beside it. I wouldn't be surprised if the next thing they do is, I don't know, build a big industrial park around the airport or some crazy shit.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted July 07, 2010 at 15:05:30

Typical.

Let's face it folks, Hamilton has no concept of the future.

Its citizens, its business leaders and its establishment want to continue repeating the mistakes others have made in the past.

If you have any desire to see your city be anything other than a suburb, you;re living in the wrong place.

Hamilton is not for you. It wants to be forever beholden to the automobile, and the development industry that perpetuates its existence.

If you value something other than that, it would be to your advantage to live somewhere other than Hamilton.

It's disheartening to see a city with such great urban potential, and one of Canada's premier cities, literally turning itself into Mississauga part 2.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 07, 2010 at 15:06:48

Once again, a reminder that, as far as the business community and everybody outside of Downtown is concerned, this city is now just the next bedroom community down the 403/QEW. Our highest ambition is no longer to be a vibrant, self-sustaining city. Our goal is now to be the Mississauga of Mississauga.

Mayor Fred seems to complain about this, but he doesn't appear to make any effort to stop it. The only person on the council who actually seems to mind is MacHattie.

edit: by a quirk of timing, my post is now 100% redundant with the one above it.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2010-07-07 14:08:32

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 07, 2010 at 15:09:49

For the first time in my 12 years in Hamilton, I have completely lost hope. This is just devastating. Our only hope is that the province or the Pan Am committee will save us from ourselves, which is not bloody likely.

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted July 07, 2010 at 15:11:17

The only highlight I saw was McCarthy's opposition. I guess she just hates the east mountain almost as much as she hates the rest of the city. Everything else besides McHattie's comment was pure ass kissing.

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted July 07, 2010 at 15:17:00

For the first time in my 12 years in Hamilton, I have completely lost hope.

I'm with you. Though I've been paying attention maybe half as long as you have, this is a first in that a downtown boosting project was completely turned inside out, at the last minute, without warning or public debate, into another suburban drain.

We're plenty used to failure and disappointment, but most of the time we can see it coming.

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By hamiltonthisis (registered) - website | Posted July 07, 2010 at 15:35:09

I knew there was other locations that they never talked about, and completely expected this type of fraud/diversion from city council and the tiger-cats.

There will now be no debate about the east mountain site, as it works for the city (supposedly) and the club.

Haha, plus there is an article in the spectator "the new location will add 8 kilometres and 3 minutes for a travel time of 41 minutes, from EAST TORONTO." Are they bringing these athletes here at 4:30am or what?

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By Myrcurial (registered) - website | Posted July 07, 2010 at 15:52:24

I'm afraid that I'm going to have to chime in with Highwater... although I've only been here for 4 years, I keep seeing what can only be described as criminal neglect of this city by the very people who should be most concerned for it's longevity.

I really should put all of this in a longer article, but what it comes down to is that we're in a political environment where corporate funding (be it for direct campaign contributions or slight of hand like we're seeing now with the stadium) is taken as more worthy than the voices of the electorate. The council will CHEERFULLY accept the statements of a corporation as unimpeachable evidence of what shall be, and yet when the corporations fail to follow through, we just say "oh well" and get right back to bitching about how awful it is to be "From The Hammer". We saw it when the corporations told us how the Red Hill would take trucks off the streets (Cannon and Wilson are dangerous even in a car still, let alone on a bike or walking down the slivers of sidewalks), the told us how lovely Centre Mall would be and lied about how it would have a great streetscape... oh, and have you tried to walk from the bank to Zellers?

I don't see that the stadium situation is going to be any different.

To the whiners in the north end who are worried about traffic - STFU. I live in the shadow of Ivor Wynn and I'm slightly inconvenienced approximately twice a year, the rest of the time, I relish in the groups and families walking to the stadium.

To the whiners in the suburbs who want to go "driveway-to-driveway" - STFU. There's a place for you in Mississauga, where the driveways are many and you can pay for the privilege of parking at all of Mississauga's world class stadiums. Oh. Right.

To the whiners in city hall who want their cake gold plated - STFU. Why don't you all do something productive and forward facing - lead by POSITIVE example instead of mealymouthed corporate asskissing, walking out, stepping back from a challenge and all of the other things we've seen our perpetually re-elected councilors doing for the last 4 years.

To the corporations who need a hand out - STFU. I buy my TiCats tickets for face value. If that's not enough to pay the way of the team then you just failed ECO101 - raise the ticket price or reduce your costs - pick one. If the "we couldn't win if someone gave us 1,000 pucks and pulled not just the goalie but the whole fraking team" Maple Leafs can demand $600 for a family of four to go to a game, you can raise your prices to an economically viable point - even more so because you don't suck as hard as you could.

And finally, to all of the Hamiltonians who bitch and complain and whine about how just awful it is to be a Hamiltonian - STFU. Please leave, by the first available route, we need you less than we need another headshot from Dalton's 'funding' gun. There are plenty of us that think Hamilton is pretty damn awesome - from it's gritty industrial heritage (spread in a thin coat over everything), it's asinine internal 'highways', it's 100 parking spots per capita downtown and it's unhealthy preoccupation with cheque cashing and lottery outlets, through to it's gorgeous parks, beautiful homes, unparalleled geographic placement, and honest hardworking PROUD citizens.

I think I'm done for now.

I need a lie down.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 07, 2010 at 16:01:32

well at least we can hang our hat on all the great new condo towers and office buildings being built downtown along with the new retailers renovating our old buildings for new flagship stores to serve the booming economy. It's not like our city is just rotting away with nothing more than a circle of Walmarts being built around our periphery. Council has done a great job at overseeing the massive rebirth in downtown Hamilton we all enjoy now. I guess I can cut them some slack for slobbering all over the odd greenfield project. We rarely invest any public money out there......

Comment edited by jason on 2010-07-07 15:02:57

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By frank (registered) | Posted July 07, 2010 at 16:29:20

Everyone needs to start putting pressure on council members specifically the mayor....

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By bob lee (anonymous) | Posted July 07, 2010 at 17:13:30

well said Myrcurial. One can disagree with this without ridiculous displays of millennial grief. Pull it together. I was personally hoping for west harbour to go through and the Ti-Cats to leave town, so this is a kick in the nuts, but at least now the Harbour might be used for something useful.

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By Seriouslyjadednow (anonymous) | Posted July 07, 2010 at 17:31:25

This just in.

Rumour has it that the Tiger Cats, buoyed by the selection of the East Mountain site for the Pan Am stadium, have secured a deal for the exclusive naming rights of the stadium.

Insiders are refusing to confirm the news but a confidential contact well placed inside the Tiger Cats organization reports that Tim Horton's have successfully negotiated a ten-year deal for the opportunity to advertise at the high traffic location, near the intersection of the Red Hill Valley/Lincoln Alexander Parkway.

Pan Am officials, while also refusing to confirm what is "still a confidential business arrangement at this point in time", did provide a reference to another insider "who may be able to confirm details about the facility itself."

The insider, who works at a large Toronto architectural Design/Build firm and "can't comment on the record because I need this job", confirmed that his firm has the leading proposal in a competition to determine who will design and build the sprawling sports complex. While he said "even we don't know who will get the naming rights" he added "we have been asked to provide a 'palette', facing the two highways, which will present the sponsor's name prominently to all those passing by the facility. "All I can tell you is that we've been instructed to make room for a wordmark extending to seven or eight characters on each highway-facing facet of the structure. And that it is a company involved in the rapidly expanding foodservice sector."

An outsider not connected with the deal but who works at another Toronto Design/Build group said he also could not confirm who the naming sponsor would be but that his own firm was asked to, and submitted, a design proposal for a circular multi-function facility with integrated indoor parking that was to be known informally as 'The Cup'. Rigid design criteria for the facility were to be followed by each of the participants. The bowl was stipulated to be in the shape a cone with the bottom cut off.

Pressed for more information, the source, whose firm is no longer in the running for the contract, ventured that "it's almost certainly Tim Horton's but some people in the office think it is William's, the much smaller competitor to Tim Horton's. I can't say for sure, but to me the stadium is unmistakably in the shape of a giant coffee cup and I believe that we designed the world's first drive-in multi-function sports stadium. The facility has ramps wrapping around all levels that are wide enough to drive a car to any level of the arena. Following the game, after the cars have exited, the ramps will usher the remaining spectators out of the building in the usual way."

Ti-Cats management remained cagey and promised to "provide comment as soon as the ink dries on the various deals that we're still negotiating."

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By randomguy (anonymous) | Posted July 07, 2010 at 20:38:00

I like how Sam Merulla is suddenly a fiscal conservative on one issue. I hope Raise the Hammer keeps track of any costs (like new on ramps) that result from this ridiculous location and keeps them in the public eye.

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted July 07, 2010 at 22:00:12

Insiders are refusing to confirm the news but a confidential contact well placed inside the Tiger Cats organization reports that Tim Horton's have successfully negotiated a ten-year deal for the opportunity to advertise at the high traffic location, near the intersection of the Red Hill Valley/Lincoln Alexander Parkway.

a design proposal for a circular multi-function facility with integrated indoor parking that was to be known informally as 'The Cup'. Rigid design criteria for the facility were to be followed by each of the participants. The bowl was stipulated to be in the shape a cone with the bottom cut off.

Well, that's the first time I actually cried while reading a post on civic affairs.

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By Michelle Martin (registered) - website | Posted July 07, 2010 at 22:26:58

Well, let's hope the season opener at the new stadium isn't on a rainy day

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted July 07, 2010 at 23:48:29

All right, I just managed to get up out of the fetal position after that humiliating kick in the crotch. FWIW, I still think Fred is on the side of West Harbour. Shout out to McHattie for not selling out. We can not give up now, despite the rampant douchebaggery that has infested City Hall in the last 24 hours.

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By HRD Chairperson (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2010 at 00:26:18

Dear Councillor Clark,

I would like a Longwood Road offramp on the westbound 403 to get to my house in West Hamilton. It is inconvenient to me and the residents to have to go all the way around Coote's paradise to the Main West interchange. Please ask the taxpayers to give me 20 million dollars. Besides, I will use it 190 days of the year compared to the 10 days the Ticats would use their interchange. On second thought, lets go ahead and build a causeway through Cootes's Paradise that can also serve Dundas valley and Waterdown. This will avoid costly upgrades at a later date.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted July 08, 2010 at 08:59:09

Seriouslyjadednow: I was sure that your post was a well-intentioned bit of humour that's needed in these seemingly bleak days.

Now I'm not so sure.

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted July 08, 2010 at 09:48:52

This sums it up quite nicely...

TheSpec

And we wonder why Metrolinx is taking its time with Hamilton's projects. They want to be sure some other millionaire doesn't come along, throw cash at counsel and suddenly our LRT money is now being used to build HRD Chairperson's highway through Cootes Paradise.

Comment edited by UrbanRenaissance on 2010-07-08 08:52:55

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By frank (registered) | Posted July 08, 2010 at 12:34:24

Love that cartoon!

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2010 at 16:26:00

Yesterday's $74 million headline reminds me that most journalists are innumerate.

If nothing else, you'd hope that the Spec would subtract the $10 million pledged toward THE OLD STADIUM.

Or the $5 million spent on a soccer team.

Or the $14 million that will go into pursuing two Grey Cup bids.

Or, if they were feeling especially like forensic accountants, the $30 million bid for rights to a decade of virgin facility management, which I have to imagine would net the club all revenues associated with the stadium (and possibly allow them to set their own rent). Without an RFP or bidding cycle, how do we know what management rights are worth? (I know CFL business performance is prepubescent compared to that of the NFL, but as a "for example," Indianapolis had a dozen bidders hustling for management of Lucas Oil Stadium and the Indiana Convention Center earlier this year. Yet we're not even expected to flip a coin?)

Whether they're for or against the Hannon site, most people seem to agree that Young's offer, true to his promise of "millions or tens of millions," amounts to kicking in $15 million of the roughly $50 million that the city needs to build the stadium with a 25,000-30,000 capacity.

That's assuming the city doesn't scale back their investment based on the east mountain's elimination of the remediation/downtown stimulus/harbour vision rationale that convinced the majority of council to drain the Future Fund. If, at the very least, they commit to remediating the Rheem site, which seems likely, that widens the funding gap. If they throw downtown a sop as well, that's another shortfall. And then there are the "extras" like the road infrastructure and parking facilities, which could add another $10-20 million to the price tag.

Any question of architectural quality or humanizing design will hinge on the private sector closing the $50 million-$60 million gap that was flagged all those months ago (or, I concede, city politicians introducing tax levies to raise the funds). Hopefully the business sector steps up promptly on August 12, or this may just be 2015's answer to Civic Stadium.

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By Consultant to the HRD (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2010 at 16:50:17

Dear HRD Chairperson,

We have a problem. I've been reading the Spectator and talking with some councillors, and I've come to the following conclusion: Everyone wants to drive, but no one wants traffic. We may have to convert some mountain through streets to the CORRECT one way format. Wait, let's think about this. Although it would accomplish your goal of decreasing private investment, overall, it would be hideously inexpensive. Lets start an RFP to build an underground car tunnel that goes directly from the Ancaster Powercenter to the East Mountain stadium site.

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By The Ghost of Jack MacDonald (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2010 at 18:26:21

See, I told you the RHVP would be a catalyst for business!

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By adam2 (anonymous) | Posted July 08, 2010 at 22:24:09

So glad I'm moving to Burlington in a year.

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