Sports

Letter to Council: Reject the East Mountain Stadium Site

By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published July 09, 2010

Dear Mayor and Councillors,

I am writing to urge you to decisively reject the proposed East Mountain stadium site. This site is a major mistake for the City, and will become a liability for years to come due to its high cost, reduction in employment lands, environmental degradation and negative impact on downtown redevelopment.

Cost: the Ticats have still only offered up to $15 million towards stadium construction: far short of the $50 million that the City had requested from private sources for a Grey Cup ready facility. The City would have to purchase the land, service the new site, improve highway access and upgrade local roads.

There is also no guarantee that this expensive stadium will even make money for the City or the Ticats in the future: highway stadiums have been financial disasters throughout the USA, and American cities are now building their stadiums downtown!

Employment: the Red Hill Valley Parkway was supposed to open up large amounts of employment lands. Now we are told a valuable greenfield site will be devoted to low density entertainment (a few times a year) and retail, and will probably lead to pressure more big box type retail and housing on nearby land.

This is not the right choice when the City is claiming to be short of employment land!

Environment: the City would be choosing greenfield development over brownfield re-development. This sets a terrible example for the private sector, and will only encourage more sprawl. The East Mountain site is also largely inaccessible to public transit (and certainly by cycling or walking), and will not be serviced by GO or LRT.

The City's own consultants, IBI, confirmed that the West Harbour location could handle the traffic: why was this hard data simply dismissed?

City Building: this site does not meet any of the City's goals for re-developing and densifying the downtown core. No City can thrive economically with a depressed and depressing downtown. The East Mountain is no compromise choice!

You still have time to avoid a mistake that the citizens of Hamilton will regret for years to come. Reject the East Mountain location and stick to the City's own goals for the Pan Am development!

Nicholas Kevlahan was born and raised in Vancouver, and then spent eight years in England and France before returning to Canada in 1998. He has been a Hamiltonian since then, and is a strong believer in the potential of this city. Although he spends most of his time as a mathematician, he is also a passionate amateur urbanist and a fan of good design. You can often spot him strolling the streets of the downtown, shopping at the Market. Nicholas is the spokesperson for Hamilton Light Rail.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 09, 2010 at 13:07:28

great letter Nicholas. There's far too much common sense in your piece. Well done.

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By JM (registered) | Posted July 09, 2010 at 13:35:52

There's been far too much common sense in everything having to do with the West Harbour since DAY ONE.......................

Lesson learned - parking trumps common sense (a simpler version of what McHattie stated)

JM

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted July 09, 2010 at 13:49:00

Everyone has to do this.

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By Meredith (registered) - website | Posted July 10, 2010 at 08:10:04

I've also e-mailed... as Jon said, EVERYONE has to do this... and encouraging a half-dozen people you know to e-mail is the easiest way to encourage wider contact.

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted July 11, 2010 at 09:35:35

Excellent summary Nicholas! I agree with Meredith, we all need to write our own versions of the same letter to Councillors and, in my opinion, our MPP's. They need to be forced to "wear" this madness created in large part by the remarkably inappropriate addition of the ORC site by Michael Fenn.

One point of expansion/clarification Bob Young has offered up to $15 million for the stadium AND precinct. That means he could invest half or more of that amount building "Ti-CatWorld SportsPlex" in or near the stadium. In fact, I'd bet on it. He'll already have nailed down ALL of the parking revenues with his $3 million annual management contract. Not to mention ALL of the concert revenues.

Somehow our naive Councillors think using public money to build a $120+ million dollar facility (not to mention the cost of new on and off ramps, etc.) and renting it for $3 million a year, with no financial upside, is a good business deal. That's a 10-year fixed rate of return of 2.5%. At the end of 10 years, who do you think will have to pay for upgrades/repairs, which will undoubtably be necessary? No wonder this city, which I love dearly, is in trouble.

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted July 11, 2010 at 16:23:27

Excellent letter. I sent something similar to my councillor the day after the Ticat proposal was put forward.

When I first saw the headline of the original article in the Spec, I thought great the Cats are going to actually contribute something to the stadium. But then they broke it down. It's nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Most of the money is in the form of operational expenses that they will incur no matter where the stadium is located. They are in reality only contributing $15 million in new money.

I had to laugh when I watched the council meeting this week. It was obvious that the councillors jumping on the bandwagon hadn't really read the specifics of the proposal. They haven't yet thought of the added expenses of building at the East mountain location. The $15 million they are offering won't even cover the cost of the land needed, let alone all the other infrastructure needed to support the stadium at the East mountain location.

I think it's important that we point out the shortcommings of the East Mountain location to the councillors who have been blinded by the dollar amount and have failed to fully analyze the proposal.

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By Only 15? (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2010 at 08:19:29

It's "only $15Million" says the writer above....wow, I wish I had only fifteen million dollars.

In fact if you break down the TiCat proposal it consists of $15M for construction of a new stadium, $5M to bring a professional soccer league to the stadium; $3M per year for 10 years to cover operating costs...that is a total of $30M and an additional $10M or so to attract and stage a Grey Cup game(s) in Hamilton.

So add that up; in new money it will be $60M over ten years by my calculation with the balance in operational costs to be paid wherever the team plays for a total of $74M...not a bad haul, I'd say!

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By H+h (registered) - website | Posted July 12, 2010 at 08:35:44

Only 15?

Re-read Young's offer. It says very clearly that $15 million is for the stadium and precinct. Bob Young will decide what portion of the $15 million goes toward stadium construction, not you or I.

As for the $30 million over 10years, it's called rent! Perhaps this makes every apartment dweller in Hamilton as generous as Bob Young. The only difference is the amount, not to mention Mr. Young's upside earning potential.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 12, 2010 at 10:12:17

In fact if you break down the TiCat proposal it consists of $15M for construction of a new stadium, $5M to bring a professional soccer league to the stadium; $3M per year for 10 years to cover operating costs...that is a total of $30M and an additional $10M or so to attract and stage a Grey Cup game(s) in Hamilton.

Nice try Bob's sock puppet, but as H&h points out, Bob has pledged his $15m to the stadium precinct. As an astute commenter on SSP pointed out, Deloitte and Touche put the cost of a 3,000 car parking lot in the aerotropolis at $14.2m. I can't think of any reason to believe the costs would be much different at the stadium, which means that Bob's $15m will cover a little over half of the 6,000 car parking lot that he wants to collect all the revenue from.

$50m is required to bring the 15,000 seat up to the size required for a CFL team. Bob's $15m comes nowhere near that, with no guarantee that it will even go toward the stadium at all! Yet he wants to dictate to the citizens of this city who will be paying virtually all the bills, and living with the disastrous consequences of his regressive planning notions for decades to come! Too bad his wallet isn't as big as his chutzpah.

Oh, and the promise of a professional soccer team and $1.30 will get you a cup of coffee on James St.

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By Only 15 (anonymous) | Posted July 12, 2010 at 11:17:26

@Highwater& HH:

1. The city's money would also go to the precinct...so what's good for a precinct is good for the stadium and the city. Young's money leverages other private funds. I know you don't believe in private money! For you its all about sucking on the public teat.
2. "Rent" or $30M is now being borne by the city. Young will alleviate us of that. So the city is ahead.
3. If I'm a sockpuppet for Young, you are for the very rich landowners around the harbour who are salivating at the chance to realize a fortune...you are being duped me thinks.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted July 12, 2010 at 12:54:51

The city's money would also go to the precinct...so what's good for a precinct is good for the stadium and the city.

Yes. The city's $60 Million goes to the stadium and precinct, vs. Bob's paltry $15m, so the city should get more say in the location.

Young's money leverages other private funds.

So where is it then? Until he can show us the $50m it will take to get him the stadium he wants, he doesn't get to dictate terms.

I know you don't believe in private money! For you its all about sucking on the public teat.

Ok. We've entered Crazytown now. You have things pretty much exactly backwards. Bob Young is the one who is sucking on the public teat here. And I do believe in private money! Maybe if I believe harder, some of it will actually appear! But until it does, the public money should call the shots.

If I'm a sockpuppet for Young, you are for the very rich landowners around the harbour who are salivating at the chance to realize a fortune...

Crazytown.

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