Sports

Plenty of Parking for West Harbour

By Ryan McGreal
Published July 21, 2010

this blog entry has been updated

Within about a ten minute walk of the West Harbour we have the following parking locations (surface lot capacities are estimates based on visual inspection, indoor lot capacities were confirmed by the City's Parking System office):

That's a total of 4,766 parking spaces in the area bounded by King St on the south and James St on the east - and I may have missed some lots in the area.

The total is considerably less than the 6-7,000 spots proposed for the East Mountain stadium location, but the West Harbour is far more accessible by local and regional transit, walking and cycling as well as driving.

In addition, there are far more neighbourhood amenities in the area that attendees can enjoy before and after stadium events, which helps to spread out the traffic into and out of the area.

Update How could I have forgotten about Jackson Square? That's another 1,100 spots. (Thanks to F. Ward Cleat for pointing out my oversight.

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 Bob wood (anonymous) | Posted July 21, 2010 at 09:28:07

Wade Hemsworth and Ken Peters showed in a Saturday Spec piece that on site parking isn't really necessary for a CFL team. As in:

Alouettes McGill Stadium - none
Lions - B.C Place - none
TiCats - Ivor Wynne -none
Eskimos - Commonwealth -800

Seems to me that this parking argument is a bogus one.

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By JM (registered) | Posted July 21, 2010 at 09:34:44

I was watching the Jays/Royals game last night and right at the beginning Rogers SN did a "drive by" or "drive into" the stadium area while they were rolling some ads or stats along the screen........ and all i could think of was WOW. look at that parking lot (very empty btw). i saw the stadium somewhere in the distance too.... much better site than a waterfront view or crowds of people on a vibrant street!

can't wait to see TSN do the same thing before a ticat game on the EM! maybe they'll get a shot of traffic "moving" on the Red Hill too (hope you can all detect my sarcasm here... lol)

JM

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted July 21, 2010 at 09:58:04

Some cities may have more of a culture than Hamilton of people who do have cars using public transit, certainly in Montreal's case you've got the subway system and as well, in Vancouver's case a downtown area with probably a better image than what many Hamiltonians have of anything near downtown. Trying to get people from the mountain who have nice cars who live in nice houses to use public transit here in Hamilton I don't see it.

But I agree, on site parking isn't that necessary even in Hamilton. I think the key here is that Bob Young with Osmington is able to find investors for an EM site that will include parking and is in an area where investors will wish to invest in. Hence why Bob has concentrated on the word "access" meaning access for people to use the retail and other shops that Osmington sees will be used. Any way you cut it for me, I'd much rather go to Limeridge Mall and park as I do now where I can go to the mall, Fortino's, the liquor store, Tim's across the street etc. all very easily because there is a big parking lot. Yes, I don't mind going downtown but there has to be a good reason for me to go and the wife and me do go to the WH for strolls and to a Chinese restaurant we like there as well as the main library from time to time.

In the end, what I'm really hoping for is a downtown location but not WH and I really think this could come to fruition to be honest. If Balsillie was willing to operate an NHL team out of Copps then a stadium for the TigerCats in the downtown area should work as well given the proper conditions. Here's hoping.

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By HAAA (anonymous) | Posted July 21, 2010 at 10:10:56

Hamilton: the best place to park your car.

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By Hunter (anonymous) | Posted July 21, 2010 at 10:12:53

The parking issue is not about having close and available parking for the customers but having a parking revenue stream for the ti-cats.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted July 21, 2010 at 10:17:42

Hunter, do you have a reference from the TigerCats to that effect? You may very well be correct but if it's just about revenue streams for the TigerCats from parking, I'm sure the city and the team could work out some sort of deal regardless of the amount of on site parking.

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By Balsam Bench (anonymous) | Posted July 21, 2010 at 11:29:18

Parking is the most obvious revenue generator, since it's virtually non-negotiable in a situation like the EM, whereas revenues from F&B or peripheral development (eg. if Bob set up a big box Open Source Steakhouse) are more of an optional spin-off and not a guaranteed earner. That's the CFL, though. Team budgets have skyrocketed over the last 10 years and their share of the league's media revenues seems to be limited at best, despite healthy viewership. Which is why their organization has made moves to underwrite the core product by selling peripherals. Just as a movie theatre makes its bread and butter off the snack bar, the Cats stage football games in order to create the conditions by which they can generate optimal profit. If they lose $1,000,000 year inside the stadium, they can make $1,000,001 a year working the parking concession. And if it's nice out, maybe they'll have the cheerleaders working a charity car wash.

It would definitely be a change in philosophy. To go by appearances, the Ticats have put themselves in a position where they can't charge what their product is worth, or even what it costs (see the break in facility rent for Ivor Wynne and the mutinous yowling when the club upped the season ticket prices in '08). More and more, they're looking like the HSR of professional sports.


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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted July 21, 2010 at 11:55:47

And they exist in a city that isn't that prosperous for the average football fan. Yes, there are many middle class and upper middle class to well to do folks in the area but that doesn't mean they will ever spend a dime on a football game.

In fact it could be the end of the line for the TigerCats shortly in Hamilton and that dismays me since I cherish the history of the team and wanting to see the city I live in have a chance at Lord Grey's mug. But it just might not be in the cards for much longer I suspect.

And I agree, if the stadium is going to the EM then the Future Fund really shouldn't be used unless there would be a profit for the city at some point to spend on city projects that need it, more than a stadium.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 21, 2010 at 12:10:12

To me it speaks volumes that a business entity NEEDS parking revenue in order to survive.

Wow.

Um... Can we take a second to take this notion an apply it to other areas?

Multiplexes. (Please, not the 'real cinemas' versus 'these monstrosities'. Let's stick to the discussion point, shall we...?)

Restaurants.

Concert halls.

SHOPPING MALLS.

LMAO

Look; I get that this is something Mr. Young (and others) point to as 'an accepted revenue stream notion in today's world', along with the sordid 'naming rights' ethos, but come on; this is bass-ackward reasoning, and it's the thin edge of the wedge towards what really comes down to: 'You aren't viable doing what you do...present professional football...so now you're having to augment in a thoroughly hilarious way.'

More and more of this whole issue is beginning to feel like some massive 'Punk'd!' episode.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted July 21, 2010 at 12:13:04

HamiltonFan: "In fact it could be the end of the line for the TigerCats shortly in Hamilton and that dismays me since I cherish the history of the team and wanting to see the city I live in have a chance at Lord Grey's mug. But it just might not be in the cards for much longer I suspect."

You might be right. But then, almost everyone here...and elsewhere is adamant about Hamilton 'reinventing' itself.

Do we all accept the fact that sometimes, reinvention means NOT keeping everything that has so lovingly defined you? That some things will fade away, or be gotten rid of?

Because 'reinvention' in essence, means 'redefining'.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted July 21, 2010 at 12:38:11

You aren't viable doing what you do...present professional football...so now you're having to augment in a thoroughly hilarious way.

In fairness to the Ticats, Bob Young comes from an industry he helped to invent in which commoditizing your complements (as Joel Spolsky put it) makes perfect sense.

For Red Hat, the operating system was the complement, and the company had an interest in treating it like a commodity (in fact, giving it away) so they could sell their real product, which was their expertise in packaging, administering and maintaining Red Hat Linux.

Likewise for the Ticats, it seems the games themselves are the complement, and the company has an interest in unloading tickets at commodity prices so they can sell their real product, which is Ticat swag, monopoly-priced hot dogs, draught beer and, it turns out, on-site parking.

What I wish is that the Ticats could uncouple their business logic from parking for long enough to see that there are lots of other sideline revenue streams for Ticats games that don't require the city to fork out up to $70 million in public funds on a suburban stadium that will neither grow the city's economic base nor help build community.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2010-07-21 11:39:23

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted July 21, 2010 at 13:05:44

Ryan, the city doesn't have to fork out a dime if they wish, they can simply keep the Future Fund and do with it as they want. But it is obvious that they see some value in keeping the TigerCats in Hamilton otherwise I doubt they would have gone after the PanAm Games.

Also plug into Google "parking revenues" and just about any professional team out there and you will see it's an issue for teams in leagues such as the NFL and MLB as well. It's not just a CFL thing as some people seem to suggest or point to mom and pop operations. It's very much accounted for in many new stadium plans with cities and teams. Example, here's a line from wiki on the history of Yankee Stadium, yes even the mighty Yankees were looking at parking revenues:

"Shortly before leaving office in December 2001, he announced "tentative agreements" for both the New York Yankees and New York Mets to build new stadiums. Of $1.5 billion sought for the stadiums, city and state taxpayers would pick up half the tab for construction, $800 million, along with $390 million on extra transportation.[10] The plan also said that the teams would be allowed to keep all parking revenues, which state officials had already said they wanted to keep to compensate the state for building new garages for the teams."

Comment edited by HamiltonFan on 2010-07-21 12:43:29

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By F. Ward Cleat (anonymous) | Posted July 21, 2010 at 13:25:04

I think your total is modest. How about Jackson Square underground, Harbourfront to the northeast, proposed 230 for James GO station, or the existing 100 or so along Strahan (between James and Hughson). All within a comfortable walking distance. Now if you take a look at the East Mountain site and assume you'll need 45 acres of space for 7000 parking spots (150 spots per acre). Given that the building will be at the northern portion of said property and that the property is long and somewhat narrow patrons will still have a 10 minute stroll through a sea of parking to get to the front door. Furthermore even at a optomistic $20 a spot X 7000 spots X 10 home games that $1.4 million in yearly revenue, hardly justifies the $35 million in land, unless of course the taxpayer is on the hook for the $35m and the Ti-Cats get the revenue. "Isn't that what the FUTURE FUND was intended for?"

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted July 21, 2010 at 14:03:43

Example, here's a line from wiki on the history of Yankee Stadium, yes even the mighty Yankees were looking at parking revenues - HamiltonFan

Of course, all sports franchises try to get government to pay for as much as they can and then seek to expropriate as much revenue from those gift assets as they possibly can. What is happening here is not new or unique, it happens all the time… It is rare when it doesn't.

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By Centrist (registered) | Posted July 21, 2010 at 14:46:32

OK but... it's not like all these spots are totally empty 24/7.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted July 21, 2010 at 14:47:02

Yes Kiely, no question. I was just trying to point out in reference to Balsam Bench's comments as:

"If they lose $1,000,000 year inside the stadium, they can make $1,000,001 a year working the parking concession. And if it's nice out, maybe they'll have the cheerleaders working a charity car wash"

that he seems to suggest from this that only a smallish pro team like a CFL team would be interested in parking revenues whereas I wanted to point out it's a consideration for even professional teams with large budgets such as the Yankees for example. And as you say of course it's a consideration for all sports franchises.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 21, 2010 at 15:22:35

OK but... it's not like all these spots are totally empty 24/7.

It's getting pretty close when they're charging $4.00 a day.

Ryan, as much as I appreciate you doing this research for us, it really doesn't matter. There is WAY more parking at West Harbour and WAY better highway access than at Ivor Wynne. Ditto for the other stadiums mentioned above by Bob Wood. This is just a blatant money grab by the Cats.

Young must have made his "we'll make any site work" comments before hearing about the wonderful extortion deal that MLSE landed for BMO Field. Young was probably unaware that in Ontario you can literally steal from taxpayers for your own pet projects even if the results are a cardboard stadium like BMO or a sprawl location like our EM.

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted July 21, 2010 at 15:28:56

...even professional teams with large budgets such as the Yankees for example. - HamiltonFan

Very true HF, sports franchises are like bloodhounds when it comes to finding access to other people's money.

On the other hand, finding some altruism seems impossible.

We must worship them and shower them with gifts and unfettered access to revenue streams for the pleasure and honour of being allowed to cheer for the group of guys in uniforms they provide. After all if we don't they can't promise the team won't leave...

This sham has been repeated time and time again to the sole economic benefit of sports franchises. The real sad part is even with all this free money being thrown their way, many teams and leagues have still grown too big for their britches and cannot make enough money to remain in business (e.g., the Ti-Cats). They can continue to insist this is because we won't give them what they want or they can face the reality that their business model simply does not work and start doing something about it.

Bob Young seems to want to remain a corporate-welfare-bum.

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 21, 2010 at 15:57:02

as a sidenote, I'm not sure that any sports franchise in North America has any business comparing themselves to the Yankees. Perhaps Manchester United in England can, but nobody on this side of the pond should bother with those comparisons. They literally are an empire.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted July 21, 2010 at 17:06:56

Not comparing jason, just pointing out all sports teams, even the richest, try to gouge the taxpayer as much as they can. I heard a time ago even if the Yankees didn't draw one person to a single game, they'd still make money from their TV contracts. But they want the parking money and taxpayers to pay as much of the cost towards a new stadium - of course as they say.


"Bob Young seems to want to remain a corporate-welfare-bum"

Kiely, come to think of it so do I if I was smart enough to put myself in such a position to begin with. Sadly I'm not. ;)

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted July 22, 2010 at 08:45:37

Parking revenue is the same reason McMaster does not have a downtown campus. Don't forget the on-site food and beverage revenue. McMaster nor the TiCats do not want anyone who visits, to spend money on anything outside of their venues.

Comment edited by TreyS on 2010-07-22 07:48:10

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted July 22, 2010 at 08:57:22

McMaster built itself a mall-styled foodcourt and called it a Students' Centre.

Any new stadium, regardless of where it is built will have a similar quick-serve foodcourt and that's most likely where people will spend their extra dollars. The net spinoff for area restaurants will not have much impact on their revenue... except that for 10 nites out of the year they might have to schedule a few extra staff.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted July 23, 2010 at 16:44:50

Jason, I noticed that your community church has a church located on Pritchard Avenue (or the church is in the planning stages). This is in the same location as the proposed ticats stadium.

Why is it ok for you to locate your new church in the "suburban sprawl" of the east mountain but it is not okay for the ticats?

Please provide an answer for the viewers of this site.

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By Eric (registered) | Posted July 29, 2010 at 14:37:12

People in Hamilton don't walk anywhere. We like to park really close to things. These places are all spread out. This is the most overweight city in Canada. So on the flip side, maybe that would be a good thing having to walk around a little bit downtown if it does in fact ever get revitalized.

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By moreofthesame (anonymous) | Posted August 03, 2010 at 11:09:22

Parking is just one side of the overall problem with this location: access. With the exception of CN rail to the north, the stadium site is surrounded by residences. This was a limitation for Ivory Wynne's utility, and will be for the west harbour. To maximize the facility's utility and economic potential, tens of thousands of people must get to the stadium and away from it in a matter of a 2-4 hours. There is not good access to this location whether people drive or take transit. That's tens of thousands of people walking or driving through a residential neighbourhood on event days. Some, only a very few, will make nuisances of themselves, causing nearby residents to complain to political representatives, limiting the utility of the venue. This is Ivor Wynne's history.

The location lacks on-site parking, but it also lacks direct public transit access, local and regional. As a consequence it lacks visibility for advertising (public naming rights.) It's not that I feel sorry for Bob Young or the TiCats inability to make millions of dollars, if indeed that were the case. It's that if the location is not readily accessible, it will not be used to its full potential. It will not generate a return, economically or socially for the city. It will not adequately stimulate nearby small business activity (is business thriving on Barton Street & King St. E. now, thanks to Ivor Wynne?) It will be a nuisance, not a lasting asset for the city.

The city has a location proximate to highways, major east-west streets, and public transport both local and regional, adjascent to commercial streets and removed from residential streets, with high visibilty and proximate to the downtown. And the city owns property here. Tens of thousands of vehicles already pass by this location daily. It is within an hour's drive of millions of people, and yet, for some reason, the city prefers a location off the beaten path because it has a nice view of the harbour (and buries some unmentionable industrial contamination) frustrating efforts to revitalize the downtown north end as a residential area, the commuters to the events and the commercial asperations of the downtown and event promoters, including the Ti-Cats.

I do feel sorry for an economically challenged community that cannot grasp even one of the three prime requirements for commercial success: location, location or location. Bad as a site out in the 'burbs may be, any is better than the west harbour. Out there, only the event promoters and the city economic hopes for the location will be frustrated, relying mostly on highway access. But at least the north end will be able to develop as a desireable place to live and support existing small businesses on nearby commercial streets.

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By Carl (anonymous) | Posted August 04, 2010 at 16:12:54

This report is a complete lie.

This is more like it.
The following spots are not stadium only spots, they are used for other businesses/venues. These figures assume the lots will be completely empty on game days and will be used only by those going to the stadium.

* 600 spots, West Harbour (proposed)
* 300 spots, Pier 4 Parking
* 851 spots, Art Gallery of Hamilton parking lot
* 690 spots, City Centre Parkade
* 1,100 spots, Jackson Square parking lot


The following spots are residential, (ie) in front of peoples houses and are used by regular people to park their cars when they are home. Will they be asked to move their cars during stadium events?

* 100 spots, Corner of Bay St. and Cannon St.
* 100 spots, Corner of Macnab St. and Cannon St.
* 30 spots, Mulberry St. near MacNab St.
* 150 spots, Vine St. and MacNab St.
* 90 spots, York Blvd and Park St.
* 40 spots, Park St b/w Vine St. and Cannon St.
* 60 spots, Jamesville Community Centre
* 35 spots, Colbournee St. and MacNab St.
* 150 spots, SE corner Bay St. and King St.
* 230 spots, block of King, Caroline St., George St. and Bay
* 60 spots, Main St. and George St.
* 60 spots, NW corner of Caroline St. and George st.
* 120 spots, Bay St. and Market St.

Realistically there are about 1000 parking spots around this area, many far from the stadium location.


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By Chris Angel (registered) | Posted August 21, 2010 at 14:25:44

How are fans driving to the game supposed to know which of the 18+ lots you cite dispersed through the core have spots available? Maybe parking could be marketed as a pre game adventure tour. Ti-Cat fans are supposed to drive and transfer to bus or ride their recumbent bikes to the games as the core has the same issues as the present home of the cats, parking and transportation. I live in this (Ivor Wynne)area and I can't tell you how much I enjoy walking to all the little bistros, great restaurants and galleries which have grown up around Ivor Wynne. I can't of course mainly because there aren't many (some would say any). Of course it has only been what 50 or so years so I will be patient and wait for the kind of benefits sure to acrue to a WH stadium. The stadiums cited that have even less parking are profitable are they? Maybe they would be if they had decent parking. By decent parking I mean a few good sized lots capable of handling near capacity crowds where if one is full its not an easter egg hunt finding the next little 30 spot blip on a map or GPS. Yes I know how lazy that is not wanting to walk 10 or more blocks on failing legs but humour me Ok when I say that is what I want and likely what a lot of other visitors and Ti-Cat fans would prefer as well.

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By theydontgetit (anonymous) | Posted August 22, 2010 at 12:36:15

Exactly Chris, most people just don't get it...

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