By Letter to the Editor
Published August 30, 2011
This is a terrible deal for the citizens of Hamilton. Neither of these projects will generate tax revenues to compensate for the number of tax dollars that will be required to build them.
It's clear now that Hamilton should never have become involved in the Pan Am process. City council should write off the money that's been spent on planning and tell Toronto 2015 to find other communities willing to host their events before the inevitable construction overruns begin.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are a private company. As such, their financial records are not available to be scrutinized. They have a financial plan, to which we are not privy, and a bottom line. The city's preferred stadium site did not align with their plan and they applied pressure on the city, even threatening to move their business to another municipality, until Council agreed to abandon their site, chosen in the interest of the city and its citizens, and renovate Ivor Wynne.
This most recent development gives us some insight into the Ticats' plan. They've concluded that, aside from Labour Day, 30K fans are never going to attend games. They are adopting the model of the Montreal Alouettes: a smaller stadium with more amenities to "improve the game-day experience" for which they can charge higher prices.
Tens of millions of dollars will be spent to rebuild the north stands so that the individual seats will have backs. There will be more washrooms and more accessible concessions to sell expensive food and $8 beer. Ticket prices will continue to escalate until the team, whoever owns it, is able to make money.
On average 2.2% of the current population of this municipality attend any Ticat game. Very few people, regardless of how many identify themselves as fans and follow the games on TV, actually patronize this business. The taxes the Ticats pay the city will never approach the investment the city is making in the stadium.
The Pan Am Games will be over in a couple of weeks. The stadium will belong to the municipality but can't possibly be used often enough or by enough spectators to justify even a small fraction of the money that's being spent.
Similarly with the velodrome, Mohawk is looking for a deal that will benefit their institution. Most of the funds Mohawk is committing will come from a user fee on students.
The velodrome be combined with sports facilities for Mohawk students. Virtually nobody from the community will ever see the inside of it and, unless they are Mohawk students, they won't be eligible to use it.
Not only that, but we have no idea what costs will be associated with the land swap with St. Joseph's Hospital that will allow Mohawk to build on what is now a parking lot.
Our city must invest in progressive projects which will provide services to the citizens of Hamilton and generate private development which will contribute to the tax base.
Gilbert Neighbourhood, Hamilton