The sense in Hamilton is that they'll screw this up somehow - that the stadium that was supposed to be built here for the 2015 Pan Am Games that nobody seems much interested in will never see the light of day because it's an issue too big to be handled by a city council that always seems bereft of ideas.
Thursday, Hamilton Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young flatly rejected a cock-eyed idea to wedge the stadium in the city's West Harbour. Here's The Spec's website piece and here's a design of the place with more background.
As usual, there are two sides to this argument. Young's a great guy and god love him for bankrolling the Ti-Cats but there is no such thing as a private businessman without an agenda, so let's just put that out there and be done with it. But civic politicians never cease to amaze me: they see waterfront and they think automatic success! Camden Yards! Picturesque views!
I used to spend a fair amount of time in a stadium that was built without any input at all from its future main tenant. A place that had so many bells and whistles it became unusable. A place that was like some goofy architectural and engineering acid trip. That was Olympic Stadium, and while I'm not equating this modest little pigskin paradise in our modest little burg with the Big Owe, I'd like to remind the people my tax dollars go to - yeah, I have a vested interest in this thing - that much like the Montreal Expos were ultimately done in by their concrete tomb there will be no second chances if Young tires of the nonsense. This will be the Ti-Cats Stadium. Nobody else's. If it doesn't work for them, give it to Burlington or Oakville or some other place.
This whole thing has been predictable from Day 1. Anybody who lives here and has gone down to the harbour had one simple question: how the hell do we get in and out. On bikes? Helicopters? Boat? What if there's an evacuation necessary? Whatever ….
I'm not a big fan of hooking urban development onto a stadium to begin with because there are more than enough economics to show that a new stadium does not generate as much income for an area as sports owners and their amen lobby like to think. At best, there's a redistribution of existing money. (And the fact of the matter is Baltimore's Harbourfront revival owes more to its stunning, world-class, year-round aquarium than a now often-empty ballpark.)
But this is pretty simple. The stadium is about the Ti-Cats, not some B-list international event being held to soothe Toronto's pain at never landing the really big show. That's just an excuse to get government money (Oh come on, you all know that as well as I do!) It needs to be economical and accessible. It needs to be football-first. Hamilton's already been screwed by its blind love affair with Jim Balsillie - who, while it was all good fun and yucks, had no real hope in hell of ever bringing an NHL team here. Build the stadium for football. Add all the other stuff later. Because David Braley already owns one-quarter of the CFL. Tough to ask him to make it three of eight, no?Report Typo/Error