Sports

Open Thread: Today's Committee of the Whole Meeting

By RTH Staff
Published August 31, 2010

At 9:30 AM, City Councillors will meet at today's emergency Committee of the Whole meeting to listen to updates from staff on the Pan Am stadium situation, kvetch a lot, and discuss opportunities to bring the Hamilton Tiger-Cats back to the table with an alternate stadium location - most likely in the Aberdeen-Longwood area.

If you can't attend the meeting, Joey Coleman of the Hamilton Spectator is liveblogging the event with live streaming video of the meeting. Cable 14 is recording the meeting and will broadcast it at noon.

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By James (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 08:57:31

Why are people even contemplating putting a stadium in at the MIP? How does that make sense? Why do we continue to allow Bob Young to hold the city hostage with his empty threats?

Hey Bob! Put up or shut up! This isn't your city to boss around!

If we must have a stadium, let it go in the West Harbour. If Mr. Young doesn't like it, he can build his own damn stadium. I never complain about my tax dollars and where they go, but the notion of my taxes going to subsidize Bob Young makes me sick.

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By kevin (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 10:35:55

This just in:

Breaking News

A motion is on the table at City Hall to negotiate a location that is suitable for the Ticats and the City, and include the Longwood Road site or other mutually agreeable alternate sites.

The motion also proposes the remediation of the west harbour site without a stadium.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 10:44:10

Ferguson and Mitchell seem to be on board, also city manager Chris Murray.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 31, 2010 at 10:56:46

John Kernaghan and Paul Morse of the Spec just wrote a report on today's meeting:

Councillor Lloyd Ferguson says the city has been granted a two-week extension to settle on a Pan Am stadium plan.

In an interview this morning, Ferguson told the Spectator's Joey Coleman that Hostco has give Hamilton a reprieve to let it make a decision on where - or if - it will proceed.

It also sounds like the hardest East Mountain supporters are coalescing around MIP, e.g. PJ Mercanti, Dave Mitchell.

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By frank (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 11:16:10

McHattie is BANG ON! Stating that the Tiger Cats haven't opened their books and demonstrated good faith in the negotiations!

The response is somewhat underwhelming... Simply saying that something doesn't work because of parking and access without backing those statements up doesn't equate to presenting a case!

Comment edited by frank on 2010-08-31 10:22:45

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By frank (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 11:29:31

Now Morelli is stating correctly that removing WH from the equation is an indication of the uncompromising nature of the dialogue that's occurred to this point.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 31, 2010 at 11:37:42

Ward 1 Councillor Brian McHattie notes, "The West Harbour site has been voted on by city council seven times" and asked, "is there anything wrong with West harbour site leaving aside Ticats' perspective?"

Murray replies, "There's certainily nothing wrong if we want to host provincial, regional type sporting activities. The intent of the stadium was to host post-Pan Am more significant sporting events such as ticat games and others of that type."

McHattie notes, "Ticats haven't demonstrated with a business plan why west harbour site doesn't work. We're taking them on faith." He asks, "Have they actually opened their books and demonstrated why this doesn't work for us? The only reason we're moving away from the West Harbour is the ticats don't want to go there."

Murray replies, "I don't think we can fairly characterize that we don't know much about the Ticat operation and chief concerns about WH location.

Rob adds, "The Ticats shared with us a critique of the West harbour site showing in their opinion why that site does not work for them... The original assumptions in Deloitte business case would have to change significantly to let them turn a profit."

McHattie says, "That's not my udnestanding on how we should operate. I'm trying to understand from staff whether the Ticats' reasons for not going there justify our spending the $100m somewhere else."

He asks, "Have we conducted a thorough enough assessment to know that the Ticats' reasons are supportable? If the answer is that we have to do what the Ticats want, that's something I should hear as well."

McHattie talked with McMaster Innovation Park, and notes that they're "very concerned about these developments. They had plans for that location." He asks, "Does the Longwood site need help to redevelop?"

McHattie concludes, "I think the direction today puts the Pan Am games in more jeopardy. I think Longwood site won't work and we'll end up with nothing. I can't support this."

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted August 31, 2010 at 11:40:07

On the subject of MIP - I'm sure anybody who lives in the area noticed that 90% of the site was left as a mountain of debris with only the single restored structure at the end actually operational. This state of affairs lasted for over a year.

To a casual observer, it looked like the project had stalled and the stakeholders had lost interest in it... at the very least there was no sense of urgency about MIP.

Now, obviously, construction has resumed, but I never found out what the big hold-up was. Anyone have any insight?

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2010-08-31 10:40:35

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 11:40:17

Ha, Morelli wants to amend motion to demand that Ticats share financials. Well played sir.

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By frank (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 11:52:37

I have a challenge for the "caretaker":

If you want to demonstrate good faith how about putting some of your own money into WH. Your "negotiation" tactics have hamstringed this process and I think you've demonstrated such bad faith it created an atmosphere where I fundamentally can't support you or your business. Doing something like that would go towards re-establishing my faith in you and your organization as a vital part of this city.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 12:03:04

frank, remember Bob doesn't have a vote, he is fully allowed to negotiate any darn way he wants to, it's all part of Business Negotiating 101.

Negotiations do not equal votes, the only people voting today are council and they will vote the way they wish with the information they have.

Bob can't boss anyone around in city hall, all he can do is negotiate and indicate what his preferences are.

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By frank (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 12:10:49

HamiltonFan I'm not sure if you're intentionally obtuse or just being a PITA. You continually state that he doesn't have a vote... While you're correct in that he doesn't have a vote in the actual location of the stadium, he does have what essentially amounts to a veto vote in the actual getting of a stadium in the City. That's the leverage he's been working with and counting on in this whole process. The fact remains that he changed his tune at the VERY last minute and essentially created this song and dance in order to benefit his own pocketbook.

That's the bottom line and whether or not you can see that, it remains what's created a bad feeling with respect to him and his business/intentions for the city...one that is up to him to fix.

Comment edited by frank on 2010-08-31 11:13:23

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By woody10 (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 12:38:02

So no FF money for MIP??

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By Andrea (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 12:40:27

That motion was not carried. I believe it was stated that it was too early in the process to consider that motion.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 12:48:13

frank, if you want to get all emotional, I can say equally about our Mayor to how he has come across to me as to what you are saying about Bob.

But I don't wish to get too emotional or get into personalities as such. I wish to see this from a business and political perspective and keep personalities out of it.

Bob doesn't like the WH for a stadium and that is fine by me. I go to all TigerCats games, I don't care if they put the stadium in the middle of Lake Ontario, I'll still go. I have little or no emotions about all this "bad feeling" talk you speak of, I have no bad feelings whatsoever, although I will if my beloved TigerCats move out of the city or fold, I'm a huge TigerCat fan and CFL fan.

The city planning and political stuff doesn't crank me too much, I trust our politicians will do a good job building the city and working with business and other stakeholders to help better the city for all of it's citizens. I'm sure wherever a stadium goes, the city will see to it that it has some benefit for the city as a whole or else they should never agree to build it anywhere in the first place.

But I am very interested to see who wins Canada's national football championship this year, our Grey Cup trophy, next year and ever year after that, that does get me sort of worked up I have to admit. I like the escapism of sports like others do with music and theatre and film and reading etc.

Comment edited by HamiltonFan on 2010-08-31 11:51:18

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By Gump (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 12:48:19

Longwood will only change our hostage takers from the TiCats to McMaster.....and with no emergency room in site....yikes!
"Compromise" is a no win situation, nobody gets what they really want.....we decided WH numerous times, stick with what we know/want.

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By Told You So (anonymous) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 12:59:05

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted August 31, 2010 at 13:13:04

pxtl the MIP is a 7 phase site plan spanning 21 years. Hopefully that explains the pacing somewhat. Phase one was to raze existing buildings and renovate the old camco office building. There are more details here: http://www.mcmasterinnovationpark.ca/upl...

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted August 31, 2010 at 13:14:54

Well, I just left City Hall after sitting through another vote on the stadium.

We have effectively opened up the entire debate again, although there is a focus on MIP. We'll see how long the Cats will let that site stay in play. At least Clark's attempt to take the WH off the list failed.

Some observations:

Merulla is consistent. He does go on, but didn't waver from his support of letting the Pan Am parade pass us by. Personally, I'm not hugely opposed to this, but I do get a little tired of Sam in the role of critic who never, ever puts forth a vision for what should happen. Only what shouldn't in terms of the overall vision for the city. At least I gafdon't seem to hear much from him about the future.

There was a presentation from a guy, introduced by City Manager Chris Murray, from the Forum development organization who made a short pitch for the firm's interest in development in the WH, saying he had spoken to Frank Gehry about a role in the development. This group seemingly has a track record, but I don't know much more than that. What I do know is that Councillors Jackson and Whitehead were not listening to a single thing he said. They were engaged in a long conversation. Whitehead left his seat to sit beside Jackson. Nice. I don't care if they don't listen to each other, but I do care if they don't listen to guest speakers.

When our City CFO was asked what the economic contribution the Ti-Cats estimated they represented, he said he couldn't remember the number and didn't have it with them. Then, he looked over his shoulder in to the crowd to catch the eye of a Ti-Cat rep, possibly their CFO, to get the number. Then he went into the audience up to the Ti-Cat guy to ask for the number. He never presented it. Don't know about you, but the I forgot my homework excuse is not acceptable at this level and at this time.

So, get ready for more hijinks from the madcap kids we call Council.

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By Andrea (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 13:26:54

Thanks for the recap Graham, it's harder to see some of the nuances when you are watching on the live stream. Although I don't always agree with Merulla, I do respect that he is consistent in his position. Likewise, Councillor McHattie was able to stand his ground and state for the record his consistent position, though accepting a new site was obviously going to get the vote. Jackson just likes to hear himself speak, I found it unnecessary for him to extol the virtues of Mr. Young and the Mercanti family, at length. Councilor Pearson was well prepared and voiced her concerns articulately.

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By frank (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 13:41:43

HF you talk about not injecting emotion yet your fellatio-type support of BY during this entire debate smacks of emotion. My point had nothing to do with emotion, I simply demonstrated that you were wrong and I must say your consistent trolling is getting annoying. You don't address the issues with your own arguments you simply posit the same crap again and again! That's why you get down voted...because your arguments aren't rational at all, they consistently disregard facts. BY was the one who injected emotion in this debate - he's the one who decided at the last minute to threaten to remove his support from the WH location thereby causing many people who support the Tiger Cats to either change their vote or begin questioning the wisdom of placing a stadium in the best location if it meant they would lose their beloved Tiger Cats!

If you're so interested in taking the business aspect of this, then how about looking at it from the City's perspective. They have to allocate public money based on something other than statements made by the owner of a business - a VERY small business at that! I believe that in the humour section here at RTH you will find a blog by Graham Crawford that takes that viewpoint. The City is a business, they can't and shouldn't allocate money based on unsubstantiated rhetoric by Bob Young. I am not going to go into the various rebuttals your "arguments" have received because if you can't read those, you won't read my reiteration...

Comment edited by frank on 2010-08-31 12:44:00

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By realfreeenterpriser (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 13:53:19

While I believe that the West Harbour is a far superior site to Longwood, I think I could live with it, especially if they route LRT on the south side of the 403 and then north along Longwood back to Main.

In any event, my major concern here is that we might just be being setup again. Despite Bob Young's letter, there's no guarantee that this site will work for the Tiger-Cats AND McMaster AND the City. And what if it doesn't?

Without a "default" position, it's definitely in Young's best interest to pull another last minute double-cross and say "Oh well, Longwood didn't work it's off to one of my favoured car-centric, downtown-killing sites". This might well be simply a stalling tactic until after October's election.

I take no comfort in the "mutually agreeable to the city and the Tiger-Cats" clause because to gutless windmills like Whitehead, Jackson and, heaven forbid, DiIanni "mutually agreeable" means anything the Tiger-Cats demand.

We already know that the West Harbour is satisfactory to HostCo with the Tiger-Cats as tenants. In order to force Young to pursue Longwood "in good faith" and avoid a repeat of recent history, Council needs to require that he agree to the West Harbour as the "fallback" position. Without that commitment, it's in his best interests NOT to make this work.

I realize that some people will say "but that gives the City the upper hand". Precisely, we're the ones who are paying the bill.

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By frank (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 13:57:23

realfreeenterpriser, great idea! I'm glad that it wasn't taken out as one of the councilors were suggesting it should be.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted August 31, 2010 at 14:23:53

Without a "default" position, it's definitely in Young's best interest to pull another last minute double-cross and say "Oh well, Longwood didn't work it's off to one of my favoured car-centric, downtown-killing sites".

My understanding is that if the City can't put together a business case for the MIP in the next two weeks, the default will fall back to the city's current business case for the WH.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2010-08-31 13:24:32

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By James (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 14:49:47

Gods bless McHattie for being a voice of reason in this whole affair.

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By arienc (registered) | Posted August 31, 2010 at 20:03:17

My understanding is that if the City can't put together a business case for the MIP in the next two weeks, the default will fall back to the city's current business case for the WH.

I read it a bit differently than you, Ryan. I believe the City Manager has the responsibility to report back to Council. If he deems the WH site unworkable due to the Ti-Cats resistance to it, I think he is empowered to recommend another site to Council. Of course Council doesn't have to follow his recommendations, but with a two-week deadline, they'll effectively be deciding between the city manager's recommendation and nothing.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 01, 2010 at 06:18:19

Arienc, here's a report from the Ottawa Citizen:

Eisenberger said if there is no compromise in place in two weeks [on the MIP location], the city will move forward with a smaller stadium in the West Harbour area. The Games' organizing committee is preparing for both possible outcomes.

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By frank (registered) | Posted September 01, 2010 at 10:37:13

I kinda like the idea of a small stadium on the West Harbor. It'll be great for more intimate events and smaller concerts, create a draw to the area and because of it's smaller size might actually see more bookings than a giant venue would. Just a thought.

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