This is the text of the letter that Bob Young sent to Mayor Eisenberger and Council today in response to Facilitator Michael Fenn's report:
July 6, 2010
Mayor Fred Eisenberger
City of Hamilton
and Members of Council
Subject: Moving Forward
The Hamilton Tiger-Cat organization has had an opportunity to digest the Report of Facilitator Michael Fenn and the recommendations that he has made to both Council and the Tiger-Cats. Having grown up a proud Hamiltonian, I am grateful to Mr. Fenn for his sincere efforts to bring us together.
I am certain that you would agree with me that the past two months have afforded both parties with greater insight into the vital importance of reaching some strategic decisions to ensure we build a stadium to welcome the Pan American Games, and serve as a sports and entertainment mecca for our community for decades to come.
With few exceptions, we embrace Mr. Fenn's Report. We are mindful of the concerns held by the Province of Ontario, and those of Ian Troop, Pan Am Hostco CEO, as they pertain to agreeing on a sustainable site immediately. I am certain that you share our anxiety that further delays will force the Pan Am Committee to seek venues elsewhere in the province. That would be a horrible outcome for our City.
The identification by Mr. Fenn of the "ORC" lands on the East Mountain was not our first choice. You will know that we had several other locations that we believe would have made fundamentally sound business cases for the stadium and its tenants. For various reasons these sites were taken off the table.
Mr. Fenn's choice of the "ORC" East Mountain lands represent a compromise to our organization. We are prepared to accept that compromise now, and negotiate with the Province of Ontario and the City to make this a reality. There are a wide range of advantages inherent in this compromise site proposed by Mr. Fenn:
The Government of Ontario through the ORC (Ontario Realty Corp.) own these lands and expensive land assembly is not required.
The subject property is within the urban boundary of Hamilton and permits me to achieve my goal as Caretaker for the team, to ensure the Tiger-Cats remain in Hamilton for another one hundred and forty years.
The East Mountain ORC lands would not be the subject of Ontario Municipal Board hearings, or court actions, and the property could be "shovel ready" in a very timely manner.
The location of the compromise stadium would be very convenient for most fans. As Mr. Fenn properly noted, our business plan requires that we elevate our marketing activities to strategically position the Hamilton Tiger-Cats as a "regional" Southwestern Ontario CFL team. The "ORC" East Mountain compromise speaks to the importance of "tomorrow's fan" and will serve as a facility to draw people into Hamilton for football and other events. As well, the site will not negatively impact area residents and as such, the stadium will have a great deal more multi-purpose flexibility.
Senior executives of Metrolinx, the province of Ontario's public transit organization, met with senior city officials, the facilitator and ourselves and they confirmed that regardless of stadium location a downtown Hamilton station at Liuna station is part of GO's expansion plans.
The compromise site achieves the objective of a second Hamilton GO train station as confirmed in our meeting with Metrolinx. It would be our expectation that a GO bus terminal would be on site, as well as ample parking for other buses to support our strategic regional bus/ticket marketing program that we will launch with the CFL throughout Southwestern Ontario.
The lack of remediation, planning and expropriation problems associated with the East Mountain "ORC" site enable us to conclude that together we can complete the construction of the stadium as soon as 2013 within the budget commitment of the city of Hamilton.
We believe that the essential ingredients to a successful and sustainable stadium, as documented in the Facilitator's Report, are inextricably tied to the sustainability of the Hamilton Tiger-Cat Football club, the oldest professional sports franchise in North America, in Hamilton.
Our Commitment to the City of Hamilton Success in any business undertaking is the sum total of everyone doing their part. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are prepared to do their part and more. Our contributions to the new stadium will total in excess of $74,000,000.00. Specifically:
The Club will contribute $15 million to the cost of the stadium and precinct.
The Club will operate the stadium and cover the estimated annual operating cost of $3 million per year. Simply put, the City will not be responsible for stadium operating losses going forward. Over the 10 year initial management contract this will total $30,000,000.00.
The club will assume the transition costs between today and the opening of the new stadium of an estimated $10,000.000.00.
The Tiger-Cats commit $14,000,000.00 to bring two Grey Cup Games to Hamilton as soon as possible. The quantifiable economic benefit to the community will exceed $200 million.
Associated with this, working with the City, we will ensure the location of the Grey Cup Festivals in the area of the West Harbour/North End community. This will be an opportunity to showcase our Waterfront to in excess of 20 million viewers throughout North America.
As you know, I am involved in the business of professional soccer through the NASL and the Carolina Railhawks Soccer team. It is our view there is a great deal of synergy for combined football and soccer organizations. As such, we have secured franchise right for Hamilton with the North American Soccer League. You will find, attached, a letter from F. Selby Wellman, Chairman of the NASL Finance Committee.
Working together, I am confident that we can bring the appropriate level of professional soccer to Hamilton. Purchasing and establishing a new professional team in Hamilton will require an investment of greater than $5,000,000.00 over its first few years of operations.
CFL marketing. Having met with CFL Commissioner, Mark Cohon, you will be aware that the Tiger-Cat "brand" is amongst the strongest in North America. This is a reflection of the tremendous fan loyalty that has evolved over many years. Our fan base, web interest, and viewership are amongst the highest in the CFL. To this end, The Hamilton Tiger-Cats, and the CFL, will enter into a long term strategic marketing program to communities within 90 kms of Hamilton to encourage them to attend Tiger-Cat games and spend time in the City. It would be our intention to work closely with the Economic Development Department of the City to enhance these CFL marketing investments.
As you know, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats have formed a working agreement with Mr George Schott CEO of Osmington Inc. As referenced in the Globe and Mail, Osmington Inc, a Thompson family company, enjoys an enviable reputation within the development, finance and entertainment community. Specifically, Osmington developed the highly successful MTS Centre in Winnipeg, the third busiest arena in Canada. Mr. Schott has deep roots and has invested heavily in the Hamilton community. He shares our sense of enthusiasm about ancillary and complementary developments at the "ORC" East Mountain stadium site. The City of Hamilton may be assured that through our collective resources, we will do our absolute utmost to optimize the stadium precinct.
The Club has engaged Mr. Denis Braham, Chairman and CEO of Winstead PC, one of the leading stadium construction advisory firms in North America. They have recently advised on both the new Cowboys Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys of the NFL, the Meadowlands home of both the New York Giants and New York Jets, and the new Yankee Stadium in New York City.
Consistent with the Ticats highly successful community outreach "BeFit" program, we intend to leverage the site infrastructure to provide a youth leadership program for the East Mountain community. This will engage the entire community and would provide fitness, nutrition, obesity management and leadership training skills that will have a lasting value for our young people.
The Way Ahead
It is time to move forward. There is so much more that binds the City of Hamilton and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats than divides us. My family has lived and worked in this community since 1870. We have supported a wide range of worthy charity and community endeavours and will continue to do so. My commitment to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats is stronger than ever as evidenced by commitments made in the past, and commitments made today.
But the time for "two track" discussions must conclude or Hamilton risks losing Provincial and Federal funding that it may never see again. The "ORC East Mountain" lands are not our first choice. They are not our second choice. But it is a site that allows us to move forward now.
I would ask that Council consider the significant proposal that I am advancing through this letter. We are prepared to enter into negotiations with the City and with the Ontario Government through the Ontario Realty Corporation, with a view to completing a Definitive Agreement on the "ORC East Mountain" site as quickly as possible. Council will be assured of our total cooperation moving forward.
I will endeavour to make myself available to elaborate upon our commitment in conjunction with our President Scott Mitchell and my Corporate CFO Doug Rye, C.A.
Mr. Robert (Bob) Young
cc Members of Council
cc Chris Murray
cc David Adames
cc Premier Dalton McGuinty
cc Ted McMeekin MPP
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