Sports

The Pan Am Stadium and the City's Objectives

By Ryan McGreal
Published January 26, 2011

Dear Council,

Mayor Bratina said that your objectives in the Pan Am Stadium process are to retain the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and to avoid tax increases. I respectfully disagree: your objectives should be to fulfill the Pan Am Games mandate and to fulfill the Future Fund mandate. They are, respectively:

These objectives need to be your guiding principles - not a panicky "save the Ticats at all costs" reflex.

A 6,000 seat scalable West Harbour stadium fulfills these objectives, meets the Pan Am Games site criteria, and can be built for the $115 million already on the table. There may even be money left over to invest in a permanent Velodrome.

The West Harbour also has much more potential to catalyze private investment that will actually increase the property tax base, by remediating the Barton-Tiffany property and unlocking its neighbouring properties for redevelopment. Several developers are seriously interested in investing in the West Harbour, but the current brownfield contamination makes the cost and risk of property development prohibitive.

As for finding a home for the Ticats: the agreement from the City, from Toronto 2015, and from the Ticats themselves has always been that the cost to expand the stadium beyond what $115 million in public money can buy must come from the private sector - the Ticats, their partners and sponsors.

The Ticats have not stepped up with significant additional capital funding at any of the proposed Hamilton sites - though they have plenty of demands for the City to provide them with parking revenues, office space and so on.

As TO2015 CEO Ian Troop recently reminded us, "It's not about providing a stadium for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. If that's part of a solution, terrific, but that's not our mandate."

Nor is it yours.

A scalable new stadium at a premium location meets the Ticats halfway and provides them an enviable opportunity to buy into an exciting district with tremendous growth potential.

This is our chance to invest public money in a proud legacy that creates lasting public value. An Ivor Wynne rebuild that fulfills none of the Pan Am Games or Future Fund objectives and requires no contribution from the Ticats would squander that chance.

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 say what (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 09:09:14

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By MattM (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 09:13:42

Well said but I fear that at this stage with all the backroom deals going on and emotions running high, it's too late. We're about to enter... the Bob zone.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 09:14:54

Impossible to meet? They're easy to meet, just build a community stadium in the West Harbour and make it so you can add more seats if the Tigercats decide to kick in more money, problem solved. The only "zeal" has been the Tigercats fans who seem to think Hamilton taxpayers work so hard so they can get a free new stadium for there money losing, game losing sports team.

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted January 26, 2011 at 09:29:56

Well said. I would add, if the backroom buzz is that the province and the Feds (see editorial cartoon in today's Globe & Mail) will cover the funding gap, then we may be able to move from scalable directly to full sized stadium in the WH.

While Mayor Bobby B may not see it, Ferguson is a numbers and ROI guy and should see the WH is a better place to spend all of this money. Council's thinking has been hijacked by the Ti-Cats. I say WH, take it or leave it. There is no remaining valid argument for them to continue to refuse. We need to use our position of strength to make a wise, long term investment for the city.

BTW, have a look at Scott Radley's column in today's Spec about soccer in Hamilton. Makes the case for keeping Timmis, IMO.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 09:32:22

I strongly agree with Mayor Bratina.

How do you manage that when even Mayor Bratina doesn't agree with Mayor Bratina? His 'objectives' are mutually exclusive. We can't retain the cats and avoid tax increases unless the cats pay their fair share, which certainly isn't going to happen when they've got their own cheerleader sitting in the Mayor's chair. Through his own actions, Bratina is ensuring that his 'objectives' can never be met.

(Edited to remove redundancy. Don't want Kevin after me.)

Comment edited by highwater on 2011-01-26 09:47:47

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By Money (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 09:37:02

Good point H+H - If they went to WH you would also save $7M in transition costs for the ticats PLUS gain the money from selling the IW site (another 5-7 million). I hope they are considering all the facts.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 09:41:36

If they went to WH you would also save $7M in transition costs for the ticats PLUS gain the money from selling the IW site (another 5-7 million).

...PLUS not throwing away the $10m already spent there...

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By George (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 09:49:45

Good point H+H - If they went to WH you would also save $7M in transition costs for the ticats PLUS gain the money from selling the IW site (another 5-7 million). I hope they are considering all the facts.

That's $12m - $14m!

Nothing to sneeze at.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 09:52:29

Great stuff, you guys are all writing this in letters to council right?

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By Money (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 09:58:18

Heck - that's almost enough money to build new offices for the Ticats at WH :)

So in the last three posts, we have already identified $22-24 Million in cost effectiveness if the site is switched from IW to WH.

The overall funding gap is $38M at IW so if we switch, the gap is reduced to abut $16M - much less for the Prov or Feds to kick in...we should get this info out there...

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By AmeriHamiltonian (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 09:58:41

Plus, the possibilities for neighbourhood regeneration are much greater in the IWS area WITHOUT a stadium than with one. A "new" stadium with expanded parking and perhaps offices for the TiCats does very little for the neighbourhood. If IWS is eventually demolished, there will be room for some interesting housing developments, more green space, etc.

But, like everyone else, I am confused about whether the community stadium option is still on the table?

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By Money (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 10:07:58

I just thought of another point - the IW plan was to include the city paying the ticats $2M per Grey Cup because the capacity of IW can only be expanded to 35,000 seats - the WH plan has room to go up to 45,000 seats which is enough for a Grey Cup and would not require the $2M payment from the city.

Another cost I found in the staff report - Stormwater management upgrade for the IW area - $2M

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By George (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 10:09:59

http://www.thehamiltonian.net/2011/01/tr...

In today's Spec, Andrew Dreschel paints a vivid picture of his perception of how Monday's meeting of council went, where they discussed Ivor Wynne. See Andrew's article here

Amongst his quotes:

"Picture a clutch of winter white snowshoe hares trying to hide in the middle of a russet meadow.That’s how city councillors appeared throughout much of Monday’s crucial discussion on the funding shortfall for rebuilding Ivor Wynne."

"Presented by staff with an array of options illustrating a spectrum of stadium scenarios and shortfalls, they ineffectually fretted and flopped around the issue, seizing on small details, failing to ask staff the big, basic questions upfront."

"In effect, there was a thousand pound gorilla stomping around the room but, with some worthy exceptions, the best most of them could do was endlessly nitpick about parking, signage, operating costs, club seats and the like."

"You sensed the leadership vacuum almost immediately after city manager Chris Murray and Roberto Rossini, general manager of finance, wrapped up their presentations.That’s when Mayor Bob Bratina came roaring out the gate but only to remind folks that it’s actually ‘Brian Timmis’ stadium not ‘Timmins.’After that brief history lesson, Bratina then praised staff for all their hard work and peevishly sniped at blogger Joey Coleman for suggesting he wasn’t going to be at that day’s meeting.

Bratina then sat back and said he looked forward to hearing councillors’ questions.Not exactly a mayoral moment."

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 10:40:33

Let's not forget the article GrapeApe posted on another thread. The Feds have a pot of 1 Billion dollars they are suddenly wishing to spend on stadiums and arenas around Canada. Will the impending election mean a whistle stop in Hamilton for the federal gravy train?

ottawa-considers-paying-for-stadiums-with-unspent-1-billion

Comment edited by mrjanitor on 2011-01-26 10:46:02

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 10:52:23

Soccer troubles. How does this affect any soccer aspirations for Hamilton's new stadium?

[i][b][u]US Soccer deals serious blow to Carolina RailHawks and new league[/u][/b]
Posted by Neil Morris on Sat, Jan 22, 2011 at 10:53 AM

Less than three months before the scheduled opening of its new season, the future of the Cary-based Carolina RailHawks soccer team and its proposed new league was thrown into grave doubt.
In a flurry of posts yesterday, Brian Quarstad of Inside Minnesota Soccer broke the news that the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) Board of Directors voted Thursday to deny the sanctioning they had provisionally granted the North American Soccer League (NASL) last November to operate as a Division 2 soccer league this season...

...snip...

...The most significant change in the NASL landscape since last November was the upheaval in ownership of the Carolina RailHawks. Last month, the team’s then-president Brian Wellman confirmed that the club’s “current owners just don’t want to be involved anymore.” He said that the new majority owner would likely be Traffic Sports USA, the American subsidiary of a Brazil-based sports management company.

On Dec. 31, majority owner Selby Wellman filed documents with the N.C. Sec. of State dissolving Triangle Professional Sports, L.L.C. and its subsidiary, Carolina RailHawks, L.L.C....

...snip...

...However, Triangle Offense has learned from several sources that the sale of the Cary-based soccer team has taken place. As expected, Traffic is the club’s majority owner. Selby Wellman no longer owns a majority stake in the club. Triangle Offense could not confirm the status of minority owners Bob Young and Paul Singh.[/i]

http://www.indyweek.com/triangleoffense/archives/2011/01/22/us-soccer-deals-serious-blow-to-carolina-railhawks-and-new-league


Wonder what's going on there?

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By George (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 11:05:25

Hmmm...Googling some more about the Carolina Railhawks, it seems that HTCFC Inc, (Hamilton Tiger-Cat Football Club) was a minority owner, Rather than Bob Young himself.

Just wondering, and I have no proof, but if the Carolina Railhawks were losing money, would such losses appear on the parent company's (Tiger-Cat) books?

Recent filings with the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office point to the impending sale and change in ownership of the Carolina RailHawks. On Dec. 30, 2010, current majority owner Selby Wellman filed two Articles of Dissolution with the N.C. Secretary of State that make clear a major reorganization is under way.

Last month, team president Brian Wellman confirmed online reports that current team owners were seeking to divest their stake in the club, and that Traffic Sports USA, the American subsidiary of a Brazilian sports management company, will likely acquire majority ownership.

One filing dissolves Triangle Professional Sports, L.L.C., aka Triangle Professional Soccer, L.L.C., a sport management company formed in 2005 by founding managing member Chris Economides. According to the Triangle Professional Sports’ 2010 Annual Report, the RailHawks’ members/owners were Wellman, Atlanta Silverbacks Holdings, L.L.C. (the corporate front for original minority owner Boris Jerkunica), HTCFC, Inc. (HTC standing for Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the Canadian Football League franchise owned by Red Hat founder Bob Young), and Singh Holdings, L.L.C. (managed by Dr. Paul Singh, a Cary physician).

http://www.indyweek.com/triangleoffense/...

Either way, this can't be good for Mr Young's Hamilton soccer aspirations can it? Especially with the uncertainty surrounding the league's status.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 11:07:08

Great find CaptainKirk!

When asked by a councilor if Bob Young actually owned a soccer team Rob Rossini quite excitedly said 'Yes!' The councilor was surprised and pressed Rossini for details then Rossini was cornered and said 'it's the Carolina RailHawks.'

George,

Amazing! So is this most of the mystery $30 million Bob spent on "The Tiger Cats"? The Spectator needs to get a reporter on this now, but how likely will that be?

Comment edited by mrjanitor on 2011-01-26 11:10:27

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By Boomer (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 11:44:11

This may explain Mr. Young's general lack of openness. Mind you, if city staff had sufficient time to do due diligence, would they have uncovered the info CaptainKirk found? How is it that the money-losing Hamilton Tiger-Cats are listed as a member/owner of this team, and more importantly, what is the financial relationship and responsibility of the team, separate of Bob Young personally?

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By EnoughAlready (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 11:45:37

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:37:02

From http://www.indyweek.com/triangleoffense/archives/2010/07/14/railhawks-ownership-seeks-to-swoop-for-a-new-partner

"Majority Owner Selby Wellman, who owns 60 percent of the Cary franchise, says the RailHawks have lost money in each of the first four seasons and need to grow faster."


So the Tiger-Cats are part of a money losing venture in Carolina.

I sure hope that we, as Hamilton taxpayers, aren't paying for that somehow.

Now why would the Tiger-Cats be part owner of a money losing pro soccer franchise?

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:44:53

To be clear, this could very well be on the up and up, but I think it's important that we know if we're giving financial support to the Tiger-Cats.

Also, to be fair, let's keep in mind that the ownership group, Triangle Professional Sports LLC, that the Tiger-Cats were a part of has been dissolved as of Dec 31, 2010.



But it's not yet known what the new ownership group looks like and for all we know it might still include the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.



From http://www.indyweek.com/triangleoffense/archives/2011/01/11/railhawks-future-in-limbo-as-owners-file-dissolution-papers-with-state-of-nc-3-players-head-to-mls


"A search of the N.C. Secretary of State’s website does not yet reveal any organizational filings identifying the RailHawks’ new ownership group.

In response to an e-mail query from Triangle Offense, Brian Wellman declined to comment immediately about specifics, citing confidentiality requirements. He did indicate that the sale of ownership should be finalized by the end of next week.

These new filings do not necessarily mean that one or more of the RailHawks’ current owners will not continue to be associated with the club in some capacity. However, they strongly suggest a massive organizational shift, particularly since the club’s corporate persona did not dissolve or change even when Selby Wellman acquired controlling interest from Economides several years ago.

Although the full ramifications of these filings remain to be seen, they seem to herald a resolution to the RailHawks' effort to locate fresh investment in the team. Last July, the ownership group announced a search for up to $1 million in new investment. At that time, Triangle Offense interviewed Wellman:

Asked what the team will do if it can’t find a new investor, Wellman replied, “Bob [Young] and I will keep plugging along. We have a strong belief in professional soccer and where professional soccer is going in America. We think we can make a go of it in this area.”

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By Mando (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:48:26

Another interesting bit in that article ...

Wellman points to other second-division teams such as the Portland Timbers, which draw 7,658 per game and the Rochester Rhinos, with 6,454 fans a contest, and says his team can have the same success. Portland and Rochester both have stadiums downtown, while the RailHawks are tucked away in Cary, across the train tracks.

How much easier is it to fill the stands when you are downtown next to the rail tracks?

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By Andrea (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 15:18:37

Seriously, has anyone sent this info to council? Send it Clark and McHattie.

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted January 26, 2011 at 15:25:24

EnoughAlready

Thanks for the feedback. You're correct, my comment about Councillor Farr was in bad taste and I apologized on this site for crossing the line. Perhaps you missed that post? As for not getting my way, my parents taught me that lesson many decades ago. That doesn't mean I'm not frustrated by what I believe to be poor decisions based on an almost complete absence of facts.

If you would like to return your SLEEK calendar for a full refund, please do so at your earliest convenience. I wouldn't want my calendar highlighting some of the great things in Hamilton to get in the way of you maintaining your poor assessment of me.

You say, "It's not your say in the matter." Of course it's my say, and your say, and anybody else who ticks the third box of the City's Vision: "The best place in Canada to engage citizens." I'm engaged. Just like you. Sometime critically, and more often celebratory.

As for my relationship with Councillor Farr, as recently as today we're both looking at our respective schedules to set up a lunch. You see, people can disagree, even strongly, but still sit down and discuss things. I think that speaks well of both Councillor Farr and me. Don't you?

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By Tnt (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 17:20:36

I have a suggestion that may help Hamilton. If IW 2.0 goes ahead with the proposed renewal and that will obviously suck up all the money, I suggest we contact TO about swapping a project from them that they don't want: A BMX track at west harbour. Even with remediation this should be quite affordable.

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 17:20:59

Wellman, a former 60% majority owner, apparently lost $4m in the last 3 years. And apparently Bob Young, or really HTCFC Inc. ( Hamilton Tiger-Cat Football Club) is minority owner of the team that "invested heavily" according to this report from December 19, 2010:

http://www.insidemnsoccer.com/2010/12/19/carolina-railhawks-4th-nasl-team-to-be-propped-up-by-traffic-sports/

"According to those same sources, Wellman had lost nearly $4 million on the team over the last three years. Wellman, who had stated previously he was looking for a new investor for his team, could no longer sustain those sorts of losses. With the collapsed deal, Wellman contacted both the NASL and the USSF to notify them he needed help if he was to keep the RailHawks up and running for the 2011 season."

and

"In 2008, Wellman took in new investors, including Canadian Bob Young, founder and CEO of LULU.com and owner of the CFL Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Dr. Paul Singh also became an investor in the RailHawks. Since those new investors came aboard the team has invested heavily in player personnel and hired Martin Rennie as coach of the team."

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 18:00:13

I had an experience today that really helped to put things into perspective. I was having a conversation with a sick, elderly lady about how government cutbacks are responsible for her not receiving as much care at home as she used to. She gets to have a bath 2 times a week now instead of 5 times in the past. She's a nice, peaceful lady. As we were discussing that, she all of a sudden got really passionate and angry and said something like "and here they are spending all this money on a stadium!"

It really hit home for me how the government has all this "extra" money to spend on stadiums, yet our health care system is in the dumper and people are going without service or having to wait way longer than is humane.

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By Andrea (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 21:47:17

Agreed, but in government, as in any large company will tell you that Amount A for stadiums is allocated to a different GL code then Amount DDZ for personal care for seniors.

Seeing as the WH dream does appear to be over (although it ain't over until I sing, and I am not singing yet) - Is there any way at all that the Barton Tiffany area can be converted into several community soccer pitches? How much money would that cost? I am trying to find something positive to say...since the report to Council stated we are currently 22(??? I need to confirm this) soccer fields short in this City. Soon to be 1 more if Brian TIMMIS gets torn down to appease the Tiger Cats new half of a stadium.

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By EnoughAlready (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 22:07:33

Sorry, Graham I don't agree we (your or I) have a say. I don't think the definition of engagement includes having a "say", especially a "final say". A say for all would be to have a referendum on each and every decision that needs to be made. And that's not a system we use (thankfully).

ps. you very well might find the calendar in your mail, with direction to donate the $15 to a charity.

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted January 26, 2011 at 22:52:22

EnoughAlready

Seems you think once we've cast our vote, our job is done. That there is no need for citizens to say anything more. We will never agree on this, I'm afraid. Casting a vote is an important step, but only one in a series of steps in true citizen engagement.

BTW, let me invite you to come in with your calendar. You know who I am and what I stand for. It would be kind of you to return the favor, not just the calendar.

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By Simon (registered) - website | Posted January 29, 2011 at 17:08:10

For a moment - I will accept that the TiCats lose money every year, and realistically are not in a position to invest actual money into their own stadium

However, I do not accept that the TiCats will lose money forever - which is pretty much the only reason left to justify spending public money on building them a stadium.

At this point the TiCats are 100% dependent on the City, Provence and Fed to put up all of the actual money required for their stadium. (I do not accept a portion of naming rights,or a ticket tax as actual money being invested by the TiCats - both are pretend money).

So why the hell have the TiCats been able to negotiate (if you can call it that) such an overwhelmingly one sided lease agreement!!!??

Even Scott Mitchell is familiar with performance clauses being added to players contracts - and that I exactly what the TiCats lease agreement needs - a performance clause.

I suggest 50% of any TiCat profits generated within the next 20 years go towards repaying the City, Province and Feds. This would allow the TiCats to be "sustainable" and would at least provide the taxpayer some hope of return on investment.

A fair deal has the potential for risk and reward for all parties. The current deal only has risk for taxpayers and reward for the TigerCats.

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By say what (anonymous) | Posted January 29, 2011 at 18:05:00 in reply to Comment 58713

The Tigercats lease agreement is the most one-sided deal in the CFL. Its the highest rent any team pays across the 8 teams

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By Simon (registered) - website | Posted January 29, 2011 at 20:53:43 in reply to Comment 58717

I have heard this bizarre argument from other Tiger Cat cheerleaders like the Mayor.

To reiterate, I can accept that the TiCats, and by extension, other CFL teams are not sustainable.

Except for Saskatchewan, I can agree that they all rely on their owner's charity and public subsidy - and therefore contribute little to nothing in rent or actual capital to their host communities.

I also put as much value into the CFL as anyone. Hell - I was at one of the greatest TiCat games ever - Game 2 of the 1986 East final at Exhibition Stadium - were you?

However, the goal of spending over $100,000,000.00 on a stadium has somehow become solely about making the Tiger Cats sustainable - in other words profitable.

A performance based contract would simply provide the community some way of being compensated for the investment we are about to make.

If the TigerCats make money, we all make money. If they don't, well the taxpayers are on the hook anyway. Seems pretty fair to me.

To simply argue that all CFL cities are currently being screwed over by their teams, so they all should be screwed over forever is not rational....to say the least.

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By drb (registered) - website | Posted January 29, 2011 at 20:58:55

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