Comment 42886

By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted July 07, 2010 at 12:12:23

I just sent this to my councillor:

I read the spec article this morning and saw the letter to council from Bob Young on the RTH website. I am going to have to disagree with the claims by Mr. Young that the East Mountain location is a good compromise. I am not an expert in stadium economics, but given the amount of government subsidies required for building them, I think they should be built in an area that can have the greatest economic spin off potential (ie, West Harbour).

If the Ticats want to fund a stadium in a remote location against the wishes of the city, they should pay 100% of the cost for operations of the facility and the club. A suburban stadium close to highways provides no such potential. This would be a waste of provincial and municipal money in my opinion.

Furthermore, the argument for growing the brand by catering to affluent suburbanites ignores many facts:

1) Firstly, the CFL schedule has 10 home games a year, and would remain empty for 355 days. Secondly, the promise of securing an MLS franchise is not tangible enough to warrant huge subsidies and the loss of a potential redevelopment catalyst. Hopefully, we have learned our lesson on building sport facilities with the hope of attracting a team.

2) The CFL is not a "national" sport. It is regionally popular in the markets that it serves. There is no guarantee that a new stadium, regardless of location, will be able to attract visitors from areas like Niagara, London, and Halton. Assuming the Ticats are successful in growing their brand, it should be noted that a stadium that is close to a rail station (James North) provides access to a large number of fans from the GTHA when train service is improved.

3) The Toronto FC was able to grow their brand by locating close to mass intra and inter-regional transit. That should be proof positive that creating energy and fan interest can be done without reverting to an archaic notion that the "driveway to driveway" experience is the way to go.

4) Redevelopment of the Downtown requires is a complex proposition, but return of a train station is a crucial step. One only needs to look at the recent building booms in Port Credit and Aldershot as examples. Ignoring this area will hinder our chances of gaining provincial money for transit improvements, both in terms of LRT and GO service.

5) U. S. suburban stadiums have proven to be failures (eg. Orchard Park, Pontiac) despite the fact that Americans have a very boisterous sports culture of tailgating and partying. Given that we have stricter enforcement of drinking infractions, the attraction of such a facility to Canadian football fans is low, and the likelihood of failure is even greater than with the examples above.

I am a ticat fan, but I'm a City of Hamilton fan first. I am deeply concerned that our best interests are being ignored by Mr. Young and the Football Club. So far, I have been pleased with the Mayor's stance on the West Harbour location, but now is not the time to capitulate. I would rather lose the Pan-Am stadium altogether that have it built in a remote suburban location.

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