The East Mountain option ultimately represents an opportunity for the Ticats to achieve profitability at the ongoing financial cost of public money and opportunity cost of economic vitality for the city as a whole.
By Ryan McGreal
Published July 07, 2010
Amid all the sudden big talk about conversation changers and trump cards in response to Ticat owner Bob Young's stadium offer, including a $74 million commitment if the stadium moves to the proposed East Mountain location, it's worth pausing to consider what has not changed.
Suburban stadiums generate no revenue for the city, produce no spin-off development in their surroundings, and are specifically designed to capture and monopolize all the potential revenues - from parking to entertainment, food, drinks and other amenities - that patrons might want to spend.
The upfront Ticats money (and it's not nearly as upfront it appears on first blush) will not make up for the fact that a suburban stadium will be an ongoing economic sinkhole for the city every year after it's built.
Nor does it somehow transform the fact that suburban stadiums - actual built stadiums in operation - across North America are failing before our eyes. Cities that poured money into what facilitator Michael Fenn calls the "driveway-to-driveway experience" for their stadiums are now selling them off, chastened, for pennies on the dollar and re-investing in new stadiums downtown.
The East Mountain option ultimately represents an opportunity for the Ticats to achieve profitability at the ongoing financial cost of public money and opportunity cost of economic vitality for the city as a whole. It's corporate welfare, pure and simple, engineered to look good up front and hide the real costs until later.
Fenn has committed a grave disservice to the residents and taxpayers of Hamilton in his report, which gives the highest priority to the narrow economic interest of the Ticats while deeply discounting the broad public interest of the city. His "compromise" amounts to total capitulation to the Ticats' demands.
And suddenly we're to believe the Mayor when he asserts, in his letter to Young: "I know that you and the Tiger-Cats share our city's commitment to its responsibilities to choose a site that is fiscally responsible, that will leave a worthy legacy for the community, will contribute to our 'city building' initiatives" - even though Young's proposal fails on all three commitments.
If City Council loses its nerve and signs this Faustian contract - this "detailed and generous proposal" that the Ticats whipped out at the last minute - we will all rue the decision at our leisure.
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