Sports

East Mountain Not 'Financially Responsible'

By Ryan McGreal
Published July 23, 2010

On their new website, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats call the proposed Pan Am stadium location on the East Mountain the "financially responsible" choice. It's hard to accept that an automobile-dependent stadium and massive parking lot built on a greenfield at the top of a parkway that already has a stormwater flooding problem qualifies as "financially responsible".

Similarly, if you look at the parking issue - which is clearly a major hurdle for the Ticats - the East Mountain location doesn't seem like the responsible choice. The West Harbour has over 4700 parking spots within walking distance, plus excellent local and regional transit connections.

The East Mountain will have 6000-7000 spots in a single surface parking lot adjacent to the stadium. However, there are no other realistic options for fans to get there. Given the average vehicle occupancy of 2.6 people per car traveling to pro sports events, a game with 25,000 fans will generate over 9500 vehicle trips.

Where will the 2500-3500 vehicles that can't fit into the parking lot go?

That's not to mention the congestion on the Linc and Red Hill, which can carry a combined maximum of 6000-6500 vehicles per hour, or the additional bottleneck at the interchange.

Speaking of which, the city needs to build a new highway interchange to access the site. It will also need to widen neighbouring streets, and re-route a hydro line that cuts across the site.

The city will also need to do something to manage the additional storm water runoff that will occur when the wheat field currently on the site is replaced with a nonporous parking lot. The Red Hill Valley Parkway is already plagued with frequent flooding as it is.

The main benefit to the East Mountain site for the team seems to be that they will be able to collect all the revenues from ticket sales, concessions, entertainment and parking with nothing left over for the rest of the district.

The Ticats insist that it would be irresponsible to locate the stadium at the West Harbour because the Ticats cannot achieve profitability there, requiring large and ongoing public subsidies.

Yet the East Mountain location also entails large and ongoing public subsidies in slightly different form, albeit without the public benefits that would accrue to the remediation of a significant brownfield and the establishment of a mixed use entertainment precinct in what is now an industrial wasteland.

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 Young is a Jerk (anonymous) | Posted July 23, 2010 at 14:03:09

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted July 23, 2010 at 14:09:03

Go away, troll. There's no need for this debate to de-evolve into common insults.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted July 23, 2010 at 16:09:32

I find it humorous that you think 6000-6500 vehicles per hour capability may not be enough and result in traffic congestion but you want to build a stadium with no nearby highway access. What would that do for traffic congestion on our city streets? The only answer seems to be that you think traffic congestion is ok on our city streets but a bad thing on our highways. Have you asked the people who live around the West Harbour sight if they want the congestion on their streets? Perhaps they do but my neighbours (at least the ones I have talked to) and I, way out here in the west end, sure do not want it. If anyone came up with a plan to build a stadium in my neighbourhood I would be up in arms against it.

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By Wiccan (anonymous) | Posted July 23, 2010 at 16:31:37

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By DT Resident (anonymous) | Posted July 23, 2010 at 16:46:38

No money at stake? I own property downtown where I live. This makes me a stakeholder.

RTH is great!

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By adrian (registered) | Posted July 23, 2010 at 16:49:20

This is my favourite "benefit" that is listed on the site:

Convenient public transit options (rail, lrt, bus)

What convenient rail and LRT lines are they referring to? Convenient as in not currently present but will conveniently be built by Hamilton taxpayers?

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted July 23, 2010 at 17:19:14

What convenient rail and LRT lines are they referring to? Convenient as in not currently present but will conveniently be built by Hamilton taxpayers?

They're referring to the buses GO would run through already congested traffic 8km from the stop at QEW/Centennial that they recently decided not to build. Weak.

I find it humorous that you think 6000-6500 vehicles per hour capability may not be enough and result in traffic congestion but you want to build a stadium with no nearby highway access.

Are you f*cking kidding me? The WH location is less than one kilometer from 6-land York Blvd. Get a clue.

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted July 23, 2010 at 17:19:33

What convenient rail and LRT lines are they referring to? Convenient as in not currently present but will conveniently be built by Hamilton taxpayers?

They're referring to the buses GO would run through already congested traffic 8km from the stop at QEW/Centennial that they recently decided not to build. Weak.

I find it humorous that you think 6000-6500 vehicles per hour capability may not be enough and result in traffic congestion but you want to build a stadium with no nearby highway access.

The WH location is less than one kilometer from 6-lane York Blvd and a couple km. from the 403 and also Burlington St. to the east. Plus there are other options besides personal vehicle. Can you comprehend that? Other ways to move oneself besides a car Is it really that hard to understand?

Comment edited by jonathan dalton on 2010-07-23 16:21:43

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By realitycheck (anonymous) | Posted July 23, 2010 at 17:58:05

There are currently four HSR routes that directly serve this East Mountain site - Route 43 Stone Church and Route 22 Upper Ottawa to the north end of the property, Route 44 Rymal to the south, and Route 11 Parkdale has a stop that's a five-minute walk to the north-east corner of the site. Granted, service on these routes is relatively infrequent, but the routes are there and would not need planning or alignment, just additional capacity. And if transit in this area is improved as a result, that would be a direct benefit for the residents of the mountain who are currently grossly underserved by the HSR.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted July 23, 2010 at 20:23:34

None of you idiots has any money at stake

See, if you don't have money at stake your opinion is worthless. But if you do have money at stake you're speculators with nefarious ulterior motives. Unlike say PJ Mercanti.

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By Jason (registered) | Posted July 23, 2010 at 23:45:03

Cannon and Wilson alone have more lane capacity than all surrounding main streets at the EM site combined- stonechurch, rymal, pritchard, highland have 8 lanes combined. Wilson and cannon have 10. Add in Main, King, Barton, Bay, Queen, York, James etc and it's not even close.
By the way, we all have money at stake since were the ones paying for the construction of the stadium.

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By realitycheck (anonymous) | Posted July 24, 2010 at 08:05:11

Jason, you forgot to include the four lanes of the Linc and the four lanes of RHVP parkway that feed the east mountain location. Mud street also feeds the area. ANother thing to consider is that there is allowance to increase road capacity surrounding the east mountain site.

I happened to find myself downtown the same time that the Elton John concert was letting out a couple weeks back. Was anyone else out and about at 11PM on July 10? The traffic along King heading out of town was backed up something terrible. If the downtown network gets snarled when an audience of 15,000 lets out, how could anyone even consider it capable of handling a crowd twice that size?

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By jason (registered) | Posted July 24, 2010 at 08:26:25

I gave all of the street capacities in a recent post, but I can't find it now. LOL. Anyhow, I drew circles around each site of 800 metres and found 43 lanes of main roads around the West Harbour site and 16 lanes around EM.

Each site has highway access. EM was 4 or 5 hundred meters closer to the highway than the West Harbour, but I don't think a few hundred metres is making or breaking anything.

as a side note, I was at BMO Field this week and will post a blog on my trip shortly. Here's the quick summary - 2 hours from downtown Hamilton to BMO in stop and go traffic. Jammed parking lots and a long trip out to come back home. And that's a 20,000 seat stadium with streetcar access, quick walking distance to Liberty Village and downtown TO and hundreds of guys leaving by bike at the end of the night.

EM will be a nightmare with worse highway access (less lanes), no walking/cycling access and horrendous transit access.

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By John Sweeney (anonymous) | Posted July 24, 2010 at 08:51:39

I think a lot of people miss the big picture... Especially in light of what this could mean in terms of revitalizing and redefining our city. I live in the Baton and James area. If the stadium goes anywhere but the west habour it will show that Hamilton is truly a city administered by 'dinosaurs' whose mode of thinking is 30-years behind the times.

I'm beginning to think the east mountain site is a red herring; inasmuch that with the continuation of urban sprawl there would be even less of a reason for Metrolinx to recommend and/or follow through for LRT in the city of Hamilton; thus cementing Hamilton's future as a bedroom community of Toronto and its prosperous suburbs to the east, relegating the lower city and downtown core as an outpost for containing the poor, the disenfranchised, the disabled and mentally ill from those communities.

It just may be part of the overall 'McGuinty Plan', sacrificing Hamilton to the betterment of the rest of the Golden Horseshoe, by consolidating the aforementioned population and requisite social services, so 'the beautiful people' living in the rest of the 905 and 416 can continue to blindly pursue a life a chasing the goose that laid the golden egg, contributing to the coffers of the 'tax man' without having to deal with the unpleasantries our societal shortcomings.

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By realitycheck (anonymous) | Posted July 24, 2010 at 09:02:27

Jason wrote "Each site has highway access. EM was 4 or 5 hundred meters closer to the highway than the West Harbour, but I don't think a few hundred metres is making or breaking anything."

How are you arriving at this number? I just did a Google Map driving direction to the closest 403 on-ramp from the westernmost edge of the West Harbour site (i.e. Barton and Hess to King Street on-ramp) and got a 2km drive (York Blvd exit is 2.7 km away). Doing the same for the east mountain site (Highland and Pritchard to Stone Church on-ramp) gave a 600 metre driving distance result(using current road configurations).

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By JMorse (registered) | Posted July 24, 2010 at 10:45:00

This isn't about traffic congestion. There is always congestion when attending a big league game. In Toronto you will always experience long delays whenever a baseball or hockey game is on. It is a fact and no amount of lanes will change it.

This is about revenue only. Not just parking revenue. Why do you think you can't even bring water into a game with you? They want control all possible revenue streams. If they could make you vomit before entering to make sure you were hungry they would.

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted July 25, 2010 at 21:09:24

@ realitycheck,

Traffic was backed up something awful? I wasn't there, but I drove through King St. last night when HECFI let out for this Star Wars show, and was thrilled to have to slow down. To see the life on the streets is a rare pleasure. What do you mean? Could it be that for the hour after the concert it took 10 min to get from James St. to the 403 instead of the usual 2 minutes at 65 km/hr? Seriously, you are exaggerating just a little.

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By realitycheck (anonymous) | Posted July 26, 2010 at 08:56:13

Henry and Joe,

I can't speak for the traffic after the Star Wars concert, but I believe the attendance at that event was around the 9000 mark. The Elton John concert was a near sell-out (15,000 or so), and I am not exaggerating about traffic congestion. I was walking along King westward towards Queen and traffic was so stop and go I was keeping pace with a taxi cab. I actually beat the cab to Queen Street from King and Bay, which means the cab took ten minutes to get from Bay to Queen. So, if traffic for 15,000 can slow King down like that, what would a crowd twice that size do to traffic flow?

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By jmorse (registered) | Posted July 26, 2010 at 12:46:01

Wow, ten minutes? That is nothing. Traffic delays are expected at major events. Deal with it!

The ironic thing about your statement, realitycheck, is that YOU were walking. NO ONE will be walking away from the East Mountain stadium. All you can do is get is your car and try to leave. Whereas downtown, there are plenty of reasons not to race away from you outing.

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By realitycheck (anonymous) | Posted July 26, 2010 at 12:53:43

jmorse, the ironic thing about your statement is that I was walking to my car.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted July 26, 2010 at 13:28:20

realitycheck, the ironic thing about your comment is that it will take 10 minutes just to walk to the end of the East Mountain parking lot.

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By realitycheck (anonymous) | Posted July 26, 2010 at 13:58:44

z jones I'm not sure you understand the concept of irony.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted July 26, 2010 at 14:03:42

"I know it when I see it!"
--Lelaina Pierce

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By Jason (registered) | Posted July 26, 2010 at 20:09:21

10 minutes?? It took me 45 minutes to go from the Humber River to BMO field the other day. Lol. Only in Hamilton would we complain about a 10 minute delay after an event with 20,000 people.

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted July 27, 2010 at 17:08:18

Realty Check said "So, if traffic for 15,000 can slow King down like that, what would a crowd twice that size do to traffic flow?"

I would take the bus or my bike downtown if I was going to a casual place. If I was dressed nicely and wanted to take my car, I would return leisurely to Westdale via Hunter and Aberdeen and avoid King St. But then again, I just might go ahead and take King St to be part of the excitement of the after game crowd. I'm wierd that way.

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By Sonofthehammer (anonymous) | Posted July 28, 2010 at 09:30:06

The TiCats need a new stadium that is a sure thing but The East Mountian Site isn't the ideal location there are many reasons that this is the cast the biggest being that The Linc isn't ready to handle 9500 cars (25,000 people at 2.6 people per vehicle) from an event in addition to the regular traffic stream. The downtown isn't either, but fortunately a downtown stadium would accessible by GO trains, HSR buses, bicycle, skateboard, pogo stick, and.... walking. These options are all more environmentally friendly, and they're all more community-friendly. A Ticat game is a community event.

A west harbour stadium would give spectators the option to arrive early/gradually and leave late. There is plenty to see and do in the parks, shops, cafes, bars, and attractions nearby. A harbour stadium would encourage tailgate parties at the bayfront, pedestrians milling around the downtown area, and at least 25,000 wallets ready to spend at downtown locations.

The option would be present to make a day/evening of it! While most east mountain businesses are major chains that send their profits to their corporate headquarters, the downtown businesses are locally owned, and would keep Hamilton money in Hamilton, while even attracting new tourist dollars!
A mountain stadium would see 25000 people gridlocked on two important traffic arteries (Linc and RHVP).

A mountain stadium would require acres of endless parking lots - resulting in increased water run-off into the Red Hill Valley... and as we've seen: onto the Parkway, and into hundreds of basements. (btw: your tax dollars will be used to 'fix this')
A mountain stadium would ONLY accessible by car. Think about this: with nothing to do locally, everyone - after inhaling beers for three hours, will immediately hop into their vehicles and onto two major highways. Does M.A.D.D. know about this?

A mountain stadium is not 'accessible'. Accessible means far more than proximity to a highway. Accessible means being a part of a community, being available for local leagues and civic programming. Accessible means 'open to access by' more than simply people with vehicles.

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