Sports

Oshawa Mayor: Ticats 'Trying to Shakedown Hamilton'

By RTH Staff
Published August 26, 2010

In a Toronto Sun article published yesterday on a campaign in Oshawa by Councillor Robert Lutczyk to woo the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Oshawa Mayor John Gray is quoted throwing cold water on the proposal.

This is an election year and some councillors just want to make headline, said Oshawa Mayor John Gray.

"The team is trying to shakedown Hamilton - threatening to move the team - to get the location that it wants. It is a dangerous move to try and poach teams from other cities. If we did, what type of shakedown would they give us in 10 years," Gray said.

"Even if the Pan Am people had some money for the stadium, the operating costs would be a real challenge."

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By brian (registered) | Posted August 26, 2010 at 06:41:00

I think most cities would find the operating cost would be a challenge, im sure just about every CFL stadium knows this. All the CFL stadiums are basically run at a loss just to have a team and a new stadium in Hamilton would be no different. I'm sure we may hear a few more places being mentioned by other cities before this gets settled but once they realize the cost of building a stadium and a complete unknown whether a CFL team will work..it wont get too far. I think if this doesn't work out in Hamilton the cats could fold. Ottawa has a team coming for 2013 and it wouldn't be out of the question for Hamilton to play one extra year at Ivor Wynne and play the 2012 season here. After that Bob Young can fold the team and the players could be subject to a draft for the Ottawa team. That way Ottawa would instantly get decent players and field a good team right from the start. Maybe the CFL would give Bob Young the 7 million dollar expansion fee Ottawa is paying or compensate him some way. Ottawa lost the team twice and Hamilton and Toronto have come very close many times. If it wasn't for Molson stadium, Montreal would have been gone as well. The CFL is popular in the cities they play but outside of Saskatchewan where there is rabid fans finding other places where you can get crowds of around 29,000-30,000 to break even wouldnt be easy. Halifax, Quebec city maybe but realistically anywhere else is a longshot.

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By Robbie K (anonymous) | Posted August 26, 2010 at 08:14:05

If Ottawa is expecting to get decent players from the TiCats in 2013 I guess they are going to be totally revamping their roster next year! :) BooYeah.

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted August 26, 2010 at 08:54:42

Nice article.

I wonder why people always blame either the city or the ti-cats for their failure to negotiate an agreement? Maybe the fact is there is no site that would be satisfactory for both teams?

Failed negotiations don't always mean the negotiators have failed, sometimes the desires of the parties are so different that there is no zone of agreement - no area where the two parties can both have their minimum requirements satisfied. There might not exist a site that fulfills the cities needs while fulfilling the ti-cats needs.

However, as someone who has taken two negotiating courses one thing you're taught is that you have to find the underlying reasons for a party's needs, and try and satisfy those. If the ti-cats want parking, accessibility, and visibilty, why do they want those things? Why do they want a driveway to driveway experience? The answer is revenue. They believe they can attract a higher class of fan who will pay more for the experience, they can attract a greater amount for naming rights (who said naming rights were theirs to sell anyways?), and they can attract more fans if they have those features. However there are other ways to get revenue, and the city repeatedly said they are willing to discuss alternative revenue generation at the West Harbour site, something the ti-cats have flat out refused to do.

This kind of entrenchment by the ti-cats, being "Anti west harbour" even when the city is offering to give them tools to reach their goal of financial success, is detrimental to a negotiation.

The city, one should note, was willing to look at alternative locations, but none of the other locations came cloes to providing the city-building experience of the West Harbour. The city knows the East Mountain will get filled in and developed in a few years anyways - the stadium isn't needed ou there. In the end, the city's objectives were not minimally satisfied by any other site.

So, did the ti-cats doom the negotiations? I'm not sure. They certainly didn't negotiate to their fullest as they refused to talk to the city about the west harbour. Woudl the outcome have been different if they had? Maybe not. Maybe the city couldn't find enough alternative revenue to bring the ti-cats on side.

Unfortunately we'll never know if this mess was just another failed negotiation, or if it was a failure to negotiate.

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By birdie (registered) | Posted August 26, 2010 at 09:05:13

It would help if the Ticats actually revealed their studies. Saying "our experts tell us" isn't good enough.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted August 26, 2010 at 10:06:46

Oshawa hit the nail squarely on the head.

Hope city councillors are paying attention.

Comment edited by arienc on 2010-08-26 09:12:24

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted August 26, 2010 at 10:22:45

Does Oshawa have $60 million lying around to take the place of our Future Fund? If not that would mean they'd need to raise $423.78 per person (based on their 2006 census population) to pay for the stadium. Not including any other costs. I'd like to see one of their councillors spin that.

Comment edited by UrbanRenaissance on 2010-08-26 09:23:40

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By Kiely (registered) | Posted August 26, 2010 at 10:50:15

Mayor Gray gets it.

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By brian (registered) | Posted August 26, 2010 at 11:18:05

Not only would they have to come up with maybe 100 million the would have to decide location and other things and it doesn't happen just like that. They would have to agree on a Pan AM stadium with no guarantee the ticats would play there or like a location they picked. I like how all these places come forward when they dont even know if people care about the CFL to begin with. Without extra money from the government taxes would have to go up and how for would that go these days. If any of these places were serious about the CFL they would have sent out letters and information to the CFL years ago and they havent. I dont think operating a stadium just for a CFL team and a occasional concert or other event in a place like Oshawa, Burlington, Milton, Moncton would come even close to breaking even. Maybe these people that keep expressing interest in the Ticats can look at how very few teams have even made a profit the last 30 years.

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By birdie (registered) | Posted August 26, 2010 at 11:20:18

Yet our Council is still running scared for the hills!

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By brian (registered) | Posted August 26, 2010 at 12:12:45

..Ch just reported that the Oshaw meeting has been cancelled due to a backlash from the citizens. They said there is more Toronto argo fans there and they are offended...this pan am stadium stuff is hilarious!!!

http://www.newsdurhamregion.com/news/art...

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 26, 2010 at 12:20:17

the Oshawa meeting has been canceled due to a backlash from the citizens.

This really casts the farcical nature of the whole thing into sharp relief. In Oshawa, citizens are outraged that Council would even consider spending a bunch of public money to build a stadium for a sport team.

Meanwhile, in Hamilton the citizens are excited and enthusiastic about the opportunity to spend a bunch of public money to build a stadium for a sports team, and the sports team owner has the audacity to demand not only a stadium, but a stadium at a location which would cost tens of millions of dollars more than the city's preferred location and which would meet none of the city's own objectives.

And all this for a business that grosses something like $15 million a year. The mind boggles.

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By brian (registered) | Posted August 26, 2010 at 13:02:58

It is mind boggling. I did a rough estimate of what hamilton's GDP would be.. based on (Hamilton 500,000 - app 1 1/2 percent of the Canadian population). The Canadian GDP was 1.5 trillion in 2008..which would make the Hamilton area in the range of 10-15 billion. Like Ryan just stated $15 million or whatever the number is, is a drop in a bucket...one single Fortinos would surpass that amount easily. I know having a sports team in a city is important for recognition but it does very little financially for a city...and when it comes to a league that has 9 home games + one pre-season it isn't much. Obviously anywhere Bob Young wants a team..95% + percent of any money spent would be at the stadium and into the ticats, not to the city. Any outside people would simple drive to the stadium, park, spend some money at the game and go home. I know its great for people to say when the say they are from Hamilton..people mention the Ticats but what does that do for a city if 99% of those people dont even come here and probably never will. Regina fans aside not too many people in Canada are going to go for vacation somewhere just to go to a CFL game (grey cup the exception). I dont know what it is about sports that gets everyone agreeing to things they would never in any other business. There is no way another business giving less than 10% of the money would get 100% of the say..its nuts. If some company came around and said we want to build a factory for 2000 workers but the city of hamilton/taxpayers have to pay 90 % of the 150-200 million dollar cost..would they agree to it?..course not. If that was true they would be lining up left right and center to build them.

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By birdie (registered) | Posted August 26, 2010 at 13:10:07

City Hall alone is a billion-a-year corporation. The peanut is shoving the elephant around.

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By F. Ward Cleat (anonymous) | Posted August 26, 2010 at 14:03:34

The most successful franchises in the CFL are Edmonton and Saskatchewan both are 'Community Owned.' It may be time to investigate some sort of hybrid community/private ownership. Perhaps the Caretaker would be interested in a 'City Building' initiative whereas he would sell a 49% share of his team to the community at large. This sale could be in the form of individual shares to fans, or a lump sum payment from the City of Hamilton that could in turn be sold to individual(fans) investors. As Ryan stated this business operates on about $15 million yearly and that isn't a huge investment by todays standards. Logic would lead me to believe if fans become shareholders the Tiger-Cats would be financially stable. The West Harbour Stadium is a wonderful opportunity to exhilarate the rebirth of the core and we shoudn't let a massive parking lot derail this initiative.

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By brian (registered) | Posted August 26, 2010 at 22:02:17

Oshawa councillor Robert Lutczyk said "I'm not saying Oshawa's going to be bankrolling this thing".."Absolutely not ... we wouldn't be financiers; we would be facilitators.".....Councillor Marimpietri said in an e-mail he originally agreed to holding the meeting to look at the idea, but "promptly withdrew my support in writing almost immediately after doing some intensive fact-finding research of my own" about the idea. He said Oshawa is one of the Argos larger season ticket fan bases and said going after the ticats would be poaching. Lutczyk said he would try and bring the issue back up....Try it, said Marimpietri....."If he tries to bring this up at (strategic initiatives), as chair of the committee I will rule his ass out of order on the basis of facts found," he e-mailed. "Enough is enough.". I dont think any of this cities that have been mentioned have done any real fact finding but i think Marimpietri has. Once they get a look at the dollars and cents of it all they will all realize it isnt going to happen. The CFL has to realize that both Hamilton and Toronto are still not out of the woods as far as surviving goes. Im sure Braley had to step into buying the argos cause nobody wanted them and except for Ottawa getting another team! for the 3rd time...i don't think the CFL would work in any other Ontario city. I dont think any place would come up with the money cause they know it would be a money losing, tax grabbing propostion. Hamilton not having a team would hurt the argos and the what there is of a southern ontario market.

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By brian (registered) | Posted August 27, 2010 at 08:05:50

Ok now Burlington is out of the running for soccer games. Their little stadium will be used for practice period, the reason the lack of Go train access. Could that be a real signal that the Hamilton stadium wont happen? maybe but if they decide to move it somewhere else..they wont have a legacy tenant either unless they just go with York U. Well anyway that knocks Burlington, Oshawa out of the running for the Ticats and Milton is obviously just a joke. The argos wouldn't want another team in Mississauga either and i don't think the CFL can afford losing a team in southern ontario. The way the economy is these days and all the problems southern ontario has been for the CFL the last 25 years you would think they would be ecstatic just to have a new stadium anywhere..but that is the CFL for you. The Ticats would only work in Hamilton..no other southern ontario city would attract crowds in the 25,000-30,000 range im sure the CFL knows this. They know not one city is going to build a CFL stadium...and why would they just to lose money and spend 100 million plus to build it. Even the province knows that building another stadium just for CFL would be a mistake just by looking at the loses Hamilton and Toronto had over the years and muliple owners. There isn't going to be another MLS team in the Toronto area either.

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