Sports

Merulla: No Stadium Support Without More Private Investment

By RTH Staff
Published July 15, 2010

In a reply to a citizen's email of support for the West Harbour stadium location that he copied to local news media, Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla wrote that he "won't be supporting the East Mountain site or any site for that matter if the private sector doesn't invest the additional $35 million."

He added that his "understanding is the money is not forthcoming therefore I'm not supporting the East Mountain or West Harbour."

Merulla clarified that his vote at the July 7 stadium meeting was only to support "the study to compare the two sites" and not to endorse either location.

Merulla then further clarified his position in a follow-up email:

Moreover, as you should know, I did not support the expenditure for the stadium. Having said this it was incumbent of me to make the best of a very bad decision to build the stadium. The East Mountain site was the best case scenario for the taxpayer due to the fact the Ti-Cats absorb the present subsidy and operating costs. They were also putting $15 million toward capital. The private sector was expected to provide the additional %35 million as promised.

West Harbour development and LRT are still moving ahead and were actually planned prior to the Pan Am fiasco through the Setting Sail plan. I've always argued that we need to govern based on needs and not wants and I was ridiculed for my position on the stadium when I didn't support the financing but I did need to attempt to protect the taxpayers and the East Mountain site would have mitigated the financial hit on residents.

Having said this, the private sector is apparently not contributing the additional $35 million necessary. I would hope council would support my position to upgrade Ivor Wynne as per the 2007 plan of twenty million dollars over twenty years for generations to come.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted July 15, 2010 at 14:30:17

Mr. Merulla, I can see your reasoning here but as I've noticed the TigerCats are not widely supported here in Hamilton and I don't think the majority of people in Hamilton would be upset if the team moved. Why don't you save the city even more money, save the $20 mill or as much of it as you can, allow Bob to move the team to a community that isn't as bleeding as Hamilton is. This could be good for most Hamiltonians and as a CFL fan, I question whether 2 teams, the TigerCats and Argonauts can exist so closer together. A Toronto team is more important to the CFL than a team in a smallish city like Hamilton and I think it would be great if the Argos could play out of a new stadium, and the TigerCats in the same stadium but probably the 2 teams would eventually be merged to one. Of course, as you say, we bow out of the PanAms.

I'm sure a lot of Hamiltonians would go for this.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted July 15, 2010 at 14:37:33

^My sarcasm detector is malfunctioning. I can't get a clear reading on the parent comment.

Comment edited by nobrainer on 2010-07-15 13:37:48

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 15, 2010 at 14:42:57

@HamiltonFan - Hamilton is twice the size of Regina, and they support their team just fine.

And I'm still curious if the money could be used to fix up Ivor Wynne and do some redevelopment on the surrounding area.

The fact is simply that the CFL and the PanAm games are just too small to merit any greater investment. Which isn't the fault of the Tiger-Cats... I'm shocked anybody can make money off of a league with so few games. And honestly, how many people had even heard of the PanAm games before we found they were cominging here?

Yes, Ivor Wynne is old, and located in an unsavoury part of town... but it seems like any larger investment is just throwing big money at small events.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted July 15, 2010 at 15:04:44

That is funny nobrainer, you got me there, at least I think you did! ;)

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 15, 2010 at 15:47:48

I was actually surprised that the only response I recieved from my email to all of council regarding saving IWS and utilizing adjacent grounds, only found one generic response from the mayor standing by his WH vision.

From what I heard about Merulla's stance on going back to that 20 year IWS plan, I thought for sure I would hear back from him.

Either way, I see from above that that is still where is vote lies.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted July 15, 2010 at 15:56:27

Merulla right now is taking a safe stance, while he doesn't care about the TigerCats or PanAms, politically he'll say fix up IWS or whatever just so he doesn't peeve off the TigerCat fans in his riding completely. He's afraid to go public completely with what he thinks.

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By MattJelly (registered) - website | Posted July 15, 2010 at 16:15:42

What do you know. A stopped watch tells the right time twice a day.

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By Danjelly (registered) | Posted July 15, 2010 at 16:30:27

The only thing wrong with what Sam is saying is the number. $35 million from private investors won't cover the extra costs of an East Mountain stadium. That would pay for the parking lot and road work needed but do nothing for the stadium itself.

Whether you're an East Mountain Supporter or West Harbour Supporter (or neither), we need to be able to pay for whatever we build without adding to the tax burden. If private investors don't add to the Ticats' $15 million then there's no hope for a 25,000-30,000 seat stadium.

I'd think we'd need more like an extra $70 million for the East Mountain, and much closer to $35 million for the West Harbour.

Comment edited by Danjelly on 2010-07-15 15:33:41

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted July 15, 2010 at 16:59:21

You might be correct with those numbers Danjelly, not too sure. But if you are correct, then that's problematic because I don't see investors along those lines for either site at the moment.

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By Sarah (registered) | Posted July 15, 2010 at 20:49:36

You got love Merulla! He is a brilliant strategist. If I were in a war I would want him on my side. He has an answer for everything and thinks about it months in advance. Love him or hate him the man is good! Lol

Sarah

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By Dianne (anonymous) | Posted July 15, 2010 at 21:11:55

Let's face it...the city should NOT be considering relocating Ivor Wynne anywhere. There is way to much history there to destroy and for what...the PAN AM games? I'm sorry but I would much rather see the original plan completed and put 20 million or so into Ivor Wynne. First of all, streets and houses are flooding so we should be spending those millions on the infrastructure not a new stadium, but Councillor Merulla already fought for that and council shut him down. Now, the taxpayers have to pay for their mistakes. We don't need a new stadium, we have a perfectly good one down in the heart of Hamilton. The people love our stadium, even as old as it is. The city should do what the people want for once instead of what they decide is best. That is where the Tiger Cats have always played and always should play. Any other choice is laughable. Keep Ivor Wynne alive and leave it where it is. Why would you destroy something that is not broken. Fight for it Councillor Merulla, Most people in this city agree with you!!! Remember that!!!
KEEP IVOR WYNNE WHERE IT IS!!!!!!! WE DON'T WANT A NEW STADIUM!!!

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted July 15, 2010 at 22:01:14

Diane,

The city has already looked into fixing up IWS. It was going to cost over 100 million. They decided rather than doing that and perpetuating the problems with that site and it's limitations, that they would seek a new site for a new stadium. They decided on the Barton-Tiffany area over 10 years ago when applying for the Commonwealth Games.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted July 15, 2010 at 22:09:52

Over 10 years ago and the city still can't find anyone to put down cold hard cash to develop the area around Barton and Tiffany. I know, build the stadium there and the developers will flock. I'll believe that when I see it.

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted July 15, 2010 at 23:13:59

HF,

Developers don't build stadiums, cities build stadiums. The only privately owned stadium in this country is the Rogers center in Toronto and that was built with public money. The Rogers Center has been a huge catalyst for developement of the former industrial and rail lands in that area.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted July 16, 2010 at 07:12:15

Well baseball has some 80 home games a year. Although I'm not a big baseball fan, I will say a nice AAA 15,000 seater makes more sense than a football stadium downtown or at WH.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 16, 2010 at 09:37:21

@bigguy1231

100 million to fix up Ivor Wynne? Got a link for that report? Maybe this is simply a matter of including expenses that were externalized for other locales?

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By arcadia (anonymous) | Posted July 16, 2010 at 12:24:27

so what if it's 100 million. That's still less than the cost of the new stadium. And increasingly we're seeing that Ivor Wynne's limitations pale next to the other two spots.

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted July 16, 2010 at 16:45:04

Pxtl,

That was a number mentioned maybe 10 years ago. If I remember correctly that was the minimum it was going to cost to bring IWS up to standard. It would probably cost more today.

Arcadia, It's cheaper to build new than it is to renovate.

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By Dianne (anonymous) | Posted July 17, 2010 at 20:19:30

big guy

The stadium would not cost 100 million to renovate. Maybe 20 to 30 but it is already in the area it should be in. Don't forget just because they say it will cost 150 million to build excludes the cost of the roads that will have to be enlarged to hold the traffic. That will cost millions on its own. You don't have to do that where Ivor Wynne stands today. It works where it is. Not to mention they are planning on spending 150 million on a stadium that will be used how much??? not very much at all. PanAM??? really? I saw the headline in the paper stating it was "The Toronto PanAM Games" yet we have to pay? Hamilton gets no mention!!! Toronto should build a new stadium then. That is why this stadium talk is occuring, because of PanAm. They claim it will be used for other things besides football but they can do all the same things at Ivor Wynne now and they don't. Having said that, the numbers between a renovation and a brand new stadium do not even compare. They should use 30 million for renovation and put the rest towards infrastructure.

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By Pigskin PPP (anonymous) | Posted July 18, 2010 at 09:10:55

Findings from 2003's IWS Structural and Bleacher Load-Testing Reports:


1. All slabs in the south and east-stands tested were showing signs of cracking but were found to be safe for public use. However, the recommendation was that they should be replaced within ten years.

2. All of the stairwells of the south, east and north-stands that were load-tested (6 of 18 were tested), supported the test loads without showing signs of failure. The conclusion was that the stairwells were currently safe for public use. However, they should be replaced within ten years.

3. The steel structure, which supports the pre-cast concrete slabs in the south, north and east-stands, was found to be structurally sound but that the protective coating needs to be maintained.

4. Yearly visual inspections of the south and east-stands should be done to check for new cracks and to remove any loose pieces.

5. None of the stairwells are in conformance to present day Ontario Building Code, and therefore, should be upgraded to meet current regulations.

6. Removal and replacement of the seating slabs in the south-stands can only be done from the east and north sides, since access from the north is restricted by the artificial turf and access from the south side is prohibited by the height of the stands. This will require a carefully planned removal strategy to protect the artificial turf.

7. Removal and replacement of seating slabs in the east-stands can easily be performed from Balsam Avenue, thereby having no impact on the turf.

8. The estimated cost to do the repairs is $9.35 million in 2004 prices, for seating slabs
and stairways of south and east-stands and stairways only in the north-stands. This cost would not include the removal and replacement of seats. Installation of new seats is estimated at $4 to $5 million bringing the total estimated costs of all repairs to approximately $14 million.

----

Adjusted for inflation, it's about $16 million.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 18, 2010 at 23:24:55

Funny, I found the same report on Friday and have been browsing through it as time permits this weekend.

I have pretty much read it back to back (158 pgs), and although some of it's over my head with regards to the load bearing reports and what not, I found it intriquing.

As you mention, Pigskin PPP, about $14M whas estimated for repairs to the concrete slab stadium seats, stairs, and other parts of the steel structure, then the second half of the report goes into everyting from ventillation fans, floor and ceiling tiles, water heaters to door hardware and bathroom vanity items. Just under $2M was estimated bringing our total to $16M before inflation.

Now everything has an estimated date of repair, with some of the items planned to be complete before the report was released in 2007. Most items seemed to be recommended for repair and replacement by 2006, with other items scheduled mostly for 2010 and 2012, up to 2014. So, say an even $20 with inflation and whatever else added on, minus how many millions already spent to repair the more critical items, it would be interesting to know what is left.

Even if there were $20M remaining. I swear I have seen a number around $74M to repair IWS, and other numbers that estimate $100M+, but we are being generous in saying it seems, that it will $20m to repair and make sure it's safe.

No need for a stadium to be built other than now we need a track for the Pan Am games. As one poster suggested, a temp stadium cleans the area of WH up, without the stadium. A nice track and park area for the locals to run/bike on, brownfield lands cleared up, add another $20M to the Ivor Wynne project to add some seat backs to a majority of the seats, or anything else the Cats org thinks will make IWS a more attractable venue for both football, and other events - like tearing down Scott Park secondary and creating more field space (aka parking).

What is IWS zoned for? A stadium? Time to start booking Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. Perhaps it's time for a little Footloose style return of music to Bomont (er IWS).

We need to sell why we can make the Cats and IWS, successful businesses and say no to EM, yes to WH, but the Cats live on at IWS. I think a cleaned up west harbor without all the exhaust fumes, and a repaired IWS without a boat load of steel and concrete going to a landfull, is the right choice environmentally and saving that money for the future fund and using government and pan am dollors. This costs tax payers $0 as money for IWS is part of the budget to keep one of it's buildings operationally so no need to raise our taxes.

Seems like a win, win all around.

I am sure there are some creative ways to raise some of the $20M above as well. Look at items on the report like bathroom vanity items. What if it was going to be $65,000 to replace all the bathroom vanity items in all the public washrooms at IWS. What would exclusive advertising for the lifespan of those items, be worth to a company in those bathrooms? Same with seats with seat backs all over the stadium?

Just makes me wonder how we could make buildings such as this cheaper to run.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 19, 2010 at 13:22:35

bigguy1231, above posts prove it is not anywhere near close to being more to build new than to rennovate.

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