Special Report: Pan Am

Far Too Many Unasked Questions in Stadium Report

This is a multi-million dollar business deal that has generational implications to taxpayers in Hamilton. If we are going to pander to investors, then we should focus our gratitude on the long-suffering, fatigued taxpayers of the City of Hamilton.

By Graham Crawford
Published October 11, 2010

Dear Mayor Eisenberger and Councillors,

Once again, a Staff report is released on the eve of a critical COW meeting. Once again, it includes fuzzy, or non-existent, financial information you are being asked to approve at face value, with details to follow. Once again, I'm concerned we're letting emotion affect rational thinking regarding many tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money.

Let me be more specific related to observations regarding the latest document.

1. Bob Young precedes his announcement of a financial contribution to the capital costs of the stadium with a personal letter full of sentimental meanderings that stretch to find a non-existent connection between rail cars downtown at the TH&B station and rail yards in the west end. What one has to do with the other is beyond me.

Bob Young is allowed to write whatever he wishes, but, at this late hour, I would prefer if he kept the content relevant to the numbers associated with the Pan Am Games.

Perhaps Bob Young, now that he is so obviously in a mood to speak publicly, might agree to come to talk to all Councillors in public, versus only with our City Manager in private. He's the one who wrote the letter. He's the one who is, once again, negotiating in public.

2. Bob Young says he will contribute between $8 and $10 million into stadium construction. Already, Chris Murray is saying it is $10 million. Why? Which is it? That's 25% higher than $8 million. Is he saying the funding gap could be 25% higher too? Or the clean up costs? Why such a spread? I fear he is being a bit clever with the numbers. Please see Point #3.

3. Bob Young says he will pay the $8-$10 million over 10 years. Let's take Chris Murray's number of $10 million. What do you think it will cost the taxpayers of Hamilton (either through the Future Fund, taxes, provincial top-ups, etc.) to accept Bob Young's offer? We have to put up the money now to build the Stadium, and he pays it over 10 years.

After interest charges on $10 million over 10 years with a $1 million dollar payment per annum, what will the costs be to the City, and what will the $10 million then actually be worth in terms of capital contribution?

Please ask Mr. Rossini to run the chart for you. Ask him what he projects the interest rate to be 8 or 10 years from now that would be applied to the remaining balance owed by Bob Young. I'm quite sure you will find the resulting number to be sobering, to say the least.

In addition, in the Draft Memorandum of Understanding, Mr. Murray states, "Subject to the terms of the payment, this will provide between $8 and $10 million towards the construction cost of the stadium currently estimated at $160 million", in 2011 dollars of course.

To what terms of the payment is he referring? Where are the terms? I don't understand it, and I suspect you don't either. Find out.

We use $160 million in 2011 dollars now, and Bob Young uses $1 million in 2011 dollars now. Exactly what will $1 million be worth in 2020, or likely beyond as I suspect Bob Young will want to wait as long as possible before offering up any dollars?

4. Bob Young offered to pay the City of Hamilton $3 million to rent the stadium FROM us if it were built at the East Mountain. Now that the citizens of Hamilton have compromised from our preferred site of the West Harbour to the CP Rail site, Bob Young offers to charge the citizens of Hamilton $300,000 per year to operate the Stadium.

Why? Do you know? I don't. I think it's your job to find out. Please do so on behalf of all taxpayers.

5. Mr. Murray says that $6 million will be required for traffic infrastructure improvements at the CP Rail site. How much of this $6 million was budgeted for road improvements prior to the stadium debate? When were these improvements scheduled to take place? What are the gaps in both budget allocation and timing.

In other words, are we spending more sooner because of the stadium? Please ask Mr. Murray to contrast this with the infrastructure requirements at the West Harbour. This is our true spending gap for infrastructure.

6. Mr. Murray includes a number of $3,300,000 under the heading Environmental Conditions. Please focus your attention on what nearly $3.5 million does not include. What is his estimate for what remains?

Clearly Mr. Murray is comfortable dealing with + or - 25% numbers, as witnessed by his statements to the Spectator on the Ticat investment in stadium construction costs ($8-$10 million over 10 years).

7. Mr. Murray says that he has no idea what it will cost to relocate the existing businesses at the CP Rail site. Please ask for an estimate. His focus on tax revenues is an important number, but in no way does it reveal, or even suggest, what the true financial exposure may be to the citizens of Hamilton.

8. According to Appendix C and Appendix D, excluding land acquisition costs, the City of Hamilton has spent $1.2 million on external costs (Appendix C), and 694 days, 150 days of which are from the City Manager's Office.

What is the estimated cost of these 694 days? The numbers are known, as they are based on existing salaries. This is not guesswork.

How many days has Mr. Murray spent on this brief? That's not his fault, but it is our cost. It means he hasn't been doing other things. Again, not his fault, but it is our lost opportunity.

9. Mr. Murray makes it clear that the City of Hamilton must purchase the entire site, and that the "cost of clean up and relocation may effectively put the property out of the purchase range of any type of commercial development." That statement concerns me and it should concern you.

What are the implications of owning a 55 acre (more or less according to Mr. Murray's report, yet another example of imprecise numbers) site, all of which has to be cleaned up to make "any type of commercial development" even possible? This is a number citizens need to know, now, before we commit ourselves to a deal that may very well turn sour before we even get started.

Let me re-state, there are no monies allocated for the brownfield remediation of the West Harbour site in Mr. Murray's report, yet he acknowledges this could be a significant problem at the CP Rail site. Now we have two problems. What exactly do you plan to do to solve both of these problems simultaneously?

10. In the Draft Memorandum of Understanding, Mr. Murray says "the Tiger-Cats organization will purchase the balance of the CP Aberdeen site, currently estimated to be in the range of 10 to 15 acres."

This time, the difference between the two numbers is 50%! Which is it? If they choose to purchase 10 acres, what will be the additional costs to the taxpayers of the City of Hamilton to purchase and to remediate the additional 5 acres?

The fact that we are dealing with numbers that have a 50% difference, even in a Draft Memorandum of Understanding, is outrageous. When will the gap be closed? After you have been asked to approve it? This citizen thinks that is irresponsible.

Furthermore, Mr. Murray says the City of Hamilton will purchase between 35 - 40 acres of the site. What if we buy 35 acres? Who buys the remaining 20 acres? This is just plain sloppy accounting. Sadly, it's potentially very expensive, sloppy accounting that may come back to haunt the citizens of Hamilton.

I expect more from our City's most senior bureaucrats, no matter how much pressure they are under to come up with a solution. The site has been in play for more than a month.

11. In the Draft Memorandum of Understanding, Mr. Murray refers to "a minimum of 2,200 on-stie parking spaces." What is the maximum number? Have any discussions taken place to increase this number? What criteria will be used to recommend increasing this number? As Council, will you be asked to approve an increase in the number of spaces?

12. Why is this Draft Memorandum of Understanding written to remind us all of Bob Young's choice to operate the Tiger-Cats and how much that has cost him? "Whereas the City acknowledges the investment in excess of $30 million...and appreciates that the Tiger-Cats organization may be required to invest an additional $8 - $10 million to sustain the Franchise until the new stadium is operational for the 2014 season."

This is inappropriate inclusion in a MOU. It is irrelevant. It is emotional. It is pure myth and marketing. Please get rid of it. This is a multi-million dollar business deal, not a history lesson of business losses due to poor product and/or management.

Why not add a statement from the Premier's Office such as, "Whereas we acknowledge how tough times are now and have been in the Province of Ontario, due to the recession...."? Or, "Whereas the City of Hamilton acknowledges the taxpayers of Hamilton are suffering under the burden of an imbalance between the residential and commercial/industrial tax base."?

For whom are we writing this Draft Memorandum of Understanding? Is this just sloppiness, or is it a function of Stockholm Syndrome? Perhaps the Tiger-Cats submitted these clauses to Mr. Murray for inclusion?

13. I suggest we remove language such as, "the Tiger-Cats will assume the risk of operating the new Stadium for a period of 20 years." Risk is risk. All businesses face it when they open their doors. Usually it's not referred to in an MOU, but somehow whenever we want to communicate either how generous or how challenged the Tiger-Cat Organization is, we make mention of it.

This Memorandum has far too much Tiger-Cat spin to it for my liking. It seems to have been worded to gain sympathy and respect for the Tiger-Cats, but not for the citizens of Hamilton who are taking on all of the significant risks.

Why don't we add a line that says, "The Citizens of Hamilton will assume the risk of building the new Stadium over a period of 3 years (give or take a year or two)"? This kind of one-sided pandering to a minority partner is simply inappropriate.

Not only that, but we state we will pay the Tiger-Cat Organization $300,000 per year over 20 years ($6 million) to help cover their risk. I thought the whole idea was for the Tiger-Cat Organization to take the risk? Why would we then pay to help them cover the risk? I suggest all such wording be deleted.

14. Why do we continue to take money we currently spend on something else, and "re-allocate" it for something completely different. We will have a brand new stadium, yet somehow the current allocation to Ivor Wynne of $1.25 million is "re-allocated" to the new stadium. Why? Why isn't it $500,000, or less? Why does the amount have to remain the same?

Simply because Council won't have to make a decision to "re-allocate" current budget dollars to other high priority items? If you found a spare $1 million in the budget, what would you do with it? I think we need to sharpen our pencils and our minds here. This is juvenile accounting.

15. The Hamilton Legacy Foundation is nothing at the moment. It does not belong in the Draft Memorandum of Understanding as it has absolutely no direction.

Does Bob Young want to participate in the redevelopment of the West Harbour and the Ivor Wynne sites? Or is his Foundation purely charitable? Will he, or any of his current or future organizations, potentially benefit financially from any involvement by the Hamilton Legacy Foundation?

You need to know this if you are going to leave this nonsense in the Draft Memorandum of Understanding. Otherwise, there is an implied acknowledgement we will work together on lands in which Bob Young has absolutely no financial interest.

Be careful. This is a simple matter of asking the right questions. If Bob Young wants to privately fund a free kids day care centre in the middle of a new residential development on the Ivor Wynne site, that's fine, but I think you need find out.

As I say, my recommendation is to remove any reference to the Hamilton Legacy Foundation. At the moment, in terms of details, it's simply window dressing that once again panders to the Tiger-Cat Organization.

16. Now we're not going to use the new Stadium for amateur sport? Really? Why not? Please get to the bottom of this. The Tiger-Cat Organization proposes a Hamilton Legacy Foundation with absolutely no details, and the City of Hamilton proposes not being able to use the new stadium for amateur sport. You simply must get to the bottom of this.

Remember, the Future Fund money is funding our contribution to the new Stadium. How does not letting amateur athletes play in our new Stadium reflect the principles of the Future Fund?

What was that part of our vision statement that said, "To be the best place in Canada to raise a child"? This is criminal. Vote for this clause and you should all have an asterisk placed beside each of your names for sticking it to the kids!

17. The Tiger-Cats will receive all parking revenues and all revenues at the Stadium. Why? What about HECFI? We already pay a CEO, staff, office space, marketing, etc. Why not leverage this current investment?

Please see my earlier note about there being "a minimum of 2,200 parking spaces". Will this number increase? If so, do the Tiger-Cats receive all of the parking revenues from the additional spaces the taxpayers provide to the site? Why?

18. The Draft Memorandum of Understanding says "the Tiger-Cats must make the stadium available to the City for reasonable access, for community uses at no charge to the City." Will they charge the community groups? How is "reasonable access" defined. This is important. It's not a minor detail.

City staff announced at a recent COW meeting that over 220 days of community use are booked annually at Ivor Wynne. How do the Tiger-Cats feel about accommodating this level of community access?

Remember, this is our Future Fund money. It's about us. It's about our community. And don't forget about best place to raise a child. Sweat the details on this one. It's written like it's meaningless. It's not!

19. In the Draft Memorandum of Understanding, there is a reference to "Garage Liability insurance arising from parking lot operations". Are we talking about surface parking, or a multi-level parking garage, or both?

20. The Draft Memorandum of Understanding says "Naming rights will remain for the sole use of the Tiger-Cats Organization to defray stadium costs." Why? Why are the citizens of Hamilton not entitled to keep the naming rights sold to adorn the their stadium.

May I suggest that we split the naming rights using the same formula we are using for soil remediation, namely "based on their proportionate" investment? Sounds really fair to me, and to every single other taxpaying citizen in this City. Do you agree?

21. Chris Murray recommends tearing down certain of the buildings at the West Harbour. He claims that tearing down will send a clear message of our desire to build up.

Really? What evidence is there that this will be the result? What examples does Mr. Murray offer of polluted brownfields being attractive to developers in the City of Hamilton?

He includes not a single line about funding for remediation and development of the West Harbour. Why? If he considers tearing down buildings as a signal to the future, then using Mr. Murray's chosen beacon of hope, I suppose Hamilton does indeed have a bright future.


I could go on, but I believe these 21 points are more than enough to assist you in developing a prudent line of questioning to be used at the upcoming meeting.

Please resist trying to make this all sound wonderful, based on the fact that Bob Young has now been forced to announce even a modest investment in the cost of building our Stadium. This is a multi-million dollar business deal that has generational implications to taxpayers in Hamilton.

If we are going to pander to investors, then may I suggest you focus your gratitude on the long-suffering, fatigued taxpayers of the City of Hamilton, and not on a minority partner who has rather a lot of explaining to do given the documents before you.

Your support for our citizens should be paramount. Please save the private, for-profit, organizational pandering for when you have a beer with Bob and Scott. Please don't rub the collective noses of the citizens of Hamilton in it by fawning over a recalcitrant "partner" whose offers-to-date have been less than specific, and certainly in no way magnanimous.

Not only that, but I feel compelled to express my disappointment in the quality of analysis and of the proposed clauses in the MOU presented by, and therefore presumably supported by, our City Manager, Mr. Murray. I accept his desire to get the deal done, but I don't want to be done in by the deal.

Given Mr. Murray's recommendations, I think he has a great deal of explaining to do. I trust you will ensure that detailed explanations are forthcoming. All citizens of this City deserve such detail before investing our future.

Thanks for your attention. Hope you're having a truly great Thanksgiving with your families. I write this not because I have nothing better to do on this glorious Thanksgiving weekend, but because I feel a need to remain engaged in one of the most important decisions we will have made as citizens in decades.

Graham Crawford was raised in Hamilton, moving to Toronto in 1980 where he spent 25 years as the owner of a successful management consulting firm that he sold in 2000. He retired and moved back to Hamilton in 2005 and became involved in heritage and neighbourhood issues. He opened Hamilton HIStory + HERitage on James North in 2007, a multi-media exhibition space (aka a storefront museum) celebrating the lives of the men and women who have helped to shape the City of Hamilton.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted October 11, 2010 at 16:34:53

The city should be PAYING Graham for his analysis. Though I bet they are just annoyed by it. Graham's smart. And he's SKEPTICAL. Something council and staff should be but aren't because they're so afraid of Tom Jackson's asterisk.

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By Ancopa (registered) | Posted October 11, 2010 at 16:59:09

God I wish they would just kill this deal already.

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By I want answers (anonymous) | Posted October 11, 2010 at 17:04:21

Excellent analysis. I would like to see answers to all 21 of these points...and I would like to add one of my own: After Council had voted for the West Harbour site for the stadium, why did staff present a report to hostco that said the stadium site wouldn't work? They basically said "Citizens and Council want West Harbour, but since the Ticats don't want it, we don't think it will work"

This is not an insignificant point as they went against the democratic will of citizens and represented the interests of the Ticats and have not been held to account for it. This might also explain the quality of the current deal in front of us. It is not staff's job to choose the stadium site. It is their job to take the choice of citizens and develop a model that works. In effect, staff made sure West Harbour failed and now we are backed into a corner over the CP site with a deal that looks worse and worse with every draft.

THIS IS NOT HOW YOU RUN A SUCCESSFUL CITY!

For once I would like to see the decision of citizens actually determine the future direction of the city. Every time big issues close out the public and go to internal discussions between staff and private interests, we get poor decision-making that sets our city back years. Think of the Red Hill floodway, Aerotropolis, all the big-box developments, and now the stadium.

Mr. Crawford's points are well-thought out, reasoned, practical, and and heart of it, are guided by a sense of the "public" interest. Is it too much to ask for the same from City Hall?

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted October 11, 2010 at 18:45:32

Agree, kill the deal, get the WH if that's what the city wants, TigerCats fold or amalgamate with the Argos (many of us CFL fans only see one team in southern Ontario in long run anyways and if it's one choice, near Toronto than Hamilton, that's a given). Hey, Hamilton should be happy with a nice bare bones 12000-15000 seater for whatever soccer league at WH. I won't give a rats arse about it or the leauge but I think that's about what Hamilton is sports wise. The CFL I think is beyond depressed, going down the tubes Hamilton. Love the city and will continue to live here but I'm fine going to Argos games in Toronto or Buffalo to see the Bills for my pro football fix. Hamilton is a bit too small time I'm afraid folks and I think all of you at RTH would agree. The city has too many other priorities. Hard to argue with that, eh?

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By rayfullerton (registered) | Posted October 11, 2010 at 19:12:17

Graham,

Chris Murray should hire you as a "voice of the people" consultant, job well done!

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted October 11, 2010 at 21:20:42

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Comment edited by turbo on 2010-10-11 20:27:25

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted October 11, 2010 at 21:36:03

An interesting rebuttal. You've shattered all of his arguments in a brilliant fashion.

Except that I think you deleted your entire post except for the conclusion.

God forbid that someone demand specific numbers instead of vague platitudes and generalities.

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By adrian (registered) | Posted October 11, 2010 at 21:46:14

Translating a troll (not because it's worth it, just because I'm entertained):

This entire load of rubbish makes me sick and its ill conceived thinking like this that got us here.

"I'm upset and angry and although I lack the ability to explain why I feel the way I do, I sure feel it nonetheless."

Thank God you aren't on council Graham.

"Your reasoning ability frightens me. I prefer my councillors easily-confused."

Your type will never get my vote.

"Even though you're not running for office, I won't vote for you."

Linear thinking at its worst and twisting facts to suit your agenda is disgusting.

"Everyone knows that circular reasoning is the best."

I know this won't last 10 minutes but frankly I'm sick of the lies.

"In the course of a five-sentence paragraph I have not presented an argument, made a counter-point, or brought up any fact whatsoever. I predict on this basis that few people here will appreciate my contribution."

One thing is for certain, a stadium at the Rheem site is the worst outcome for the city.

"Trust me on this."

If thats the only choice send it back to Toronto with the rest of it including the velodrome and all the events at Copps.

"Hamilton sucks."

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted October 11, 2010 at 21:48:42

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Comment edited by turbo on 2010-10-11 20:52:29

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 11, 2010 at 22:11:00

Turbo, you have come on here arguing for.. I'm not sure what exactly.. for some time, and you have several times claimed that you are treated with disrespect, yet I have simply not seen it. This last reply to you was a (quite funny imo) parody of your post which was a pure reactionary troll post containing NO facts and NO arguments.

All other responses to your posts have been well thought out and chock full of information which you continually choose to ignore, and then cry that you are being treated badly.

Your latest post is getting even more absurd:

facts be damned

Facts, indeed. What facts, exactly, is Graham ignoring?

The Tiger Cats have come to the table with NO facts, just promises about the future which appear to be based on fantasy, and complaints about the losses of the past.

All we want is for the facts to be brought to light so that council can make an informed decision.

Grow up and bring some facts of your own to the discussion instead of whining about mistreatment every time someone disagrees with you.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted October 11, 2010 at 22:16:07

A spare million here or there can't be too big an issue. It seems they're going to be able find a spare $50 million or so to make this work at Aberdeen, so why sweat the small stuff?

Heaven forbid somewhere down the line we realise that we need rail yards far more than our stadiums need highway exposure.

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted October 11, 2010 at 22:42:29

Everything Graham says is with an air of utter contempt. Even the factually correct stuff is objectionable in the way its presented. The fact is I'm not in favour of Longwood, its way more expensive than Rheem which in turn is way more expensive than East Mountain which should never have happened either because Confederation Park is a much more attractive site thats got pie in the sky plans to commercialize anyway. At least with the stadium that would actually happen instead of the acres and acres of weeds on priceless waterfront property that should be a crown jewel not an eyesore. I've opposed bringing in the games from the start, in fact I opposed the Commonwealth Games because its a giant waste of money no matter which level of government is funding it. I've opposed a WH stadium without the perimeter road for just as long. I opposed the RHVP in favour of the perimeter road and a parkway that would run down the escarpment east off the city thus protecting the valley Many here just hit down as soon as they see my name. Its really obvious that minds are closed here. There is no point in talking to you about facts because you still believe Rheem is viable and East Mountain is not in spite of mountains of evidence to the contrary that you refuse to accept. I've also said that the Future Fund money should not exceed $35M for the entire project and in that light no site should be funded because it will require $60M to get both the stadium and the velodrome. People here also hit the down arrow when I post that. I've said that the Rheem site acquisition cost has to be considered when comparing costs of alternate sites and it cannot be added to the cost of an alternate site as many seem to want to do. I've said that ALL infrastructure costs have to be consided at ALL sites equally. That means that costs that are already in the budget at one site cannot be added just to make it look worse than another where similar costs that will be required are not being included. Frankly this has been an unfair dishonest debate from the start and RTH should be ashamed of themselves. The fact is that we may very well have an outcome we both agree is good for the city but the dishonest mean spirited attacks on Bob Young's character will surly hurt the city's ability to attract business in the future. While it may be good that the stadium project fails for the budget the public vilification of an honest hardworking man that has done nothing but put his own money into an important facet of our social fabric thus saving it from extinction will ultimately cost the city far more than you can imagine. The fact is we has a serious image problem that people here on this site have made a whole lot worse

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By Charles (anonymous) | Posted October 11, 2010 at 22:44:56

If council approves this deal tomorrow, I will definitely be voting against my incumbent councillor and mayor.

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted October 11, 2010 at 22:51:53

I'm voting against both already. I really have no idea who to vote for in Ward 3 and I know there are no choices for mayor from the to 3 so I have lots to find out in the next 2 weeks

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By Dan M (anonymous) | Posted October 11, 2010 at 23:53:35

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted October 12, 2010 at 00:05:27

@ Hamilton Fan,
I am not sure if you are upset at the potential loss of a CFL team. From your posts, it sounds like you have other football options, should we lose our team. Although, I would prefer to keep the team, I don't see losing it as a negative reflection on the city. Just to give an example of another "small time" city, Brampton seems to be doing ok without a CFL team. They have thousands of company headquarter jobs. They have a healthy economy, with half of its residents working in their own city, with a quarter working in Vaughn/Missisauga and one quarter going into Toronto. From what I understand, their biggest problem is traffic - not whether they can attract and retain a pro football team.

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted October 12, 2010 at 06:05:12

turbo

Just so we're clear, my comments come from:

  1. An analysis of the facts presented to us through public documents and comments made by the Ti-Cats, our own senior bureaucrats, and our Councillors.
  2. 30 years in business, 25 of which were spent as the owner of a consulting business that grew from nothing to many dozens of very well-paid employees, not to mention million dollar contracts with large international corporations, and even a multi-million dollar MOU when I sold my business to an international company 20 times the size of my company.
  3. A true distaste for being played like we're all idiots (through the same public documents and comments from the same people).

I don't pretend to be a captain of industry, but I'm not stupid. There is no doubt there will be some benefits from the Ti-Cats continuing to play in Hamilton, and from the construction of a conference centre and restaurant(s) nearby. The issue is one of maximizing the Return On Investment on taxpayer monies. At least it's a big issue for me.

I could have been convinced to be true partners with the Ti-Cats in the development of a stadium, even agreeing that governments always/usually foot the largest portion of the bill. But, the amount of manipulative spin that continues to come out of the Ti-Cat camp really annoys me, as is perhaps obvious in my comments.

If the Ti-Cats had just played it open, honest, and fair from the beginning, I would feel very differently than I do at present. You may think they've been good guys, just making sure they make a buck. I don't. And let me repeat for the last time, I think Bob Young has been getting bad counsel, but the fact remains he has chosen to take that counsel. I would never agree to sign a MOU that reads like the one being shown to Council today. You might. That's one big difference between us.

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By Tartan Triton (anonymous) | Posted October 12, 2010 at 07:06:28

The Confederation Park hotel bogeyman keeps coming up time and again, so the following may be helpful:

Jan 19: Hotel in plans for Confederation Park
http://www.thespec.com/news/article/36086--hotel-in-plans-for-confederation-park

Mar 4: Thumbs down on Confederation Park hotel: Public
http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/27981--thumbs-down-on-confederation-park-hotel-public

From the latter: "...the authority needs more predictable income so it doesn't have to ask for more money from city taxpayers. One way to do that is to make the park less weather-dependent by adding retail space and restaurants that attract visitors year-round, especially in spring and fall... The draft plan calls for closing the outdated campground at the east end, moving the go-kart facility from the west end to a more central location so commercial activity is consolidated..."

Consolidated. Moved to make possible the Master Plan's most significantly increased tracts of green space and naturalized play facilities for children.

Note also that whatever the HCA wants, the baseline stipulations is that it's a moneymaker, not a burden on taxpayers. By that measure, can you see any reason why a stadium wouldn't fit?

And this, from the introductory notes to August 2010's Final Report: "The Confederation Park Master Plan, and its implementation, will demonstrate ecological sustainability and best management practices to showcase this City Wide Park as an example of a harmonious blending of the built and natural environments." There are eight commercial/food/retail/entertainment facilities under consideration for the so-called Central Village: six with floor plates between 3,200 and 5,000 square feet, two with a floor plate of 8,600 square feet, all single-storey and located just east of the Adventure Village area near the mouth of Centennial Parkway. That is the sum of the HCA's "pie in the sky plans to commercialize."

Maybe I'm reading it all wrong. Judge for yourselves:

http://www.conservationhamilton.ca/archives/hca/whats-news/archives/confederation-park-master-plan-update

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted October 12, 2010 at 08:32:56

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Comment edited by turbo on 2010-10-12 07:36:51

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By Kevin B (anonymous) | Posted October 12, 2010 at 09:21:45

The bottom line is that Bob Young and the Ticats are in this for profit. They aren't accountable to the taxpayer.
City council, on the other hand, is supposed to represent our interests. If they approve this BS deal for the sake of political expediency, they all deserve to lose their jobs.

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By allantaylor97 (registered) | Posted October 12, 2010 at 09:40:56

If the Tigercats were going to see a profit you'd have a point. They aren't. The big question is does the city want a stadium for the Pan Ams and if they do is it more important to keep the costs to a minimum or is it more important to keep private enterprise out of it. Without private enterprise the costs are significantly higher no matter what size or location is chosen

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted October 12, 2010 at 09:43:07

No question Kevin, city council is in the hot seat. Should be interesting. While from a pure number of TigerCats fans perspective in this is the minority in Hamilton and one would think it would be easy for council to simply go along with the majority that this deal stinks for the taxpayer, council seems to be indecisive. The problem is they went after the Pan Am Games in the first place and don't want to back out. Also, without the TigerCats on board and their fans, will the PanAms Games draw significant people to a stadium for soccer games? I'm not sure. I know myself as a season ticket holder for the Cats and wanting to see a new stadium here with the Cats on board, if this doesn't happen and the city goes ahead and builds a stadium at WH without the Cats on board which will be a bare bones 15,000, I won't go to any games for the Pan Ams at all, won't spend a dime on it. But if the stadium goes ahead with the Cats and part of my season ticket renewal package is a very cheap package for the Pan Am Games, then I'll buy into it probably and go. So I'm wondering if the city needs TigerCat fans like myself to make the soccer games work for the Pan Ams? I don't know.

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By frank (registered) | Posted October 12, 2010 at 11:36:36

HF wrote: "if this doesn't happen and the city goes ahead and builds a stadium at WH without the Cats on board which will be a bare bones 15,000, I won't go to any games for the Pan Ams at all, won't spend a dime on it"

Bottom line is this: ALL THE REASONS FOR THE CATS REJECTING THE WEST HARBOR EXCEPT FOR HIGHWAY VISIBILITY AND THE FABLED REPORT HAVE BEEN SHOT FULL OF HOLES! THEY HAVE NO REAL REASON NOT TO PLAY AT THE WEST HARBOUR!

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 12, 2010 at 12:00:10

they have one reason: ego

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By seancb (registered) - website | Posted October 12, 2010 at 12:03:26

hamiltonfan... did you ever consider that all of this is for one reason:

to give BY an "out" so that he can leave the cats, put them up for sale, and blame it all on a stadium debacle (that he created) - so he can abandon the cats without looking like a bad guy?

just thinking out loud here... I wouldn't rule it out

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted October 12, 2010 at 12:49:24

Turbo,

I'm confused by your stance here. I've reread the original article and I can't see any sniping, all I see are requests for specific numbers instead of fuzzy feel good math.

If the 'Cats have genuine objections all they have ever had to do is present their case with numbers, instead they've argued through the media and flat out refused to present any factual information beyond claiming that they have testimony from experts. I say "claiming" not out of sarcasm, but because they've never formally presented any of this to council.

If there is anything factually wrong with Graham's post, please let us know!

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By EugeneM (registered) | Posted October 12, 2010 at 13:52:18

hamiltonfan... did you ever consider that all of this is for one reason:

to give BY an "out" so that he can leave the cats, put them up for sale, and blame it all on a stadium debacle (that he created) - so he can abandon the cats without looking like a bad guy?

just thinking out loud here... I wouldn't rule it out

http://raisethehammer.org/blog/1957/#com...

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By sean. (anonymous) | Posted October 13, 2010 at 12:32:15

the people who write on this forum are the most close minded and narrow focused that I have encountered. It is no use arguing with facts when they are still thinking and pushing west harbour. it is absolutely laughable.

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By frank (registered) | Posted October 13, 2010 at 12:56:45

"the people who write on this forum are the most close minded and narrow focused that I have encountered. It is no use arguing with facts when they are still thinking and pushing west harbour. it is absolutely laughable."

says the anonymous flunky...

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By sean. (anonymous) | Posted October 13, 2010 at 13:32:42

"says the anonymous flunky..."

says the narrow minded west harbour supporter

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By Optimistic (anonymous) | Posted October 13, 2010 at 16:41:11

The answer for Hamilton is to cut property taxes AND build a great stadium. You hear a lot about the massive debt the U.S has taken on recently, but did you know that interest charges as a percent of GDP are now 50% lower than in the year 2000. Currently, total government interest costs account for 2.08% of GDP, in 2000 these costs were 2.94%.

In this environment, debt is not a problem holding back economic growth, it's a lack of private sector activity. Since 2000, total US government spending has gone from 32.56% to 43.85%. Government has gotten too greedy and it is killing the golden goose (private sector) that pays the taxes.

If we look at Japan, in the year 1990, government debt as a percent of GDP was about 50%. At that time, debt costs comprised 20.7% of government expenditures. Fast forward 20 years and a debt to GDP ratio around 170%, debt costs account for only 22.4% of government expenditures.

Japan's economy is approximately $5 trillion US dollars. Since 1990, the Japanese government has spent 120% of GDP more than it has taken in through taxation. That means that in the last 20 years, Japan has borrowed the equivalent of $6 trillion US dollars (much of it going to public infrastructure), or $46,875 per person. And yet, debt costs as a percent of total government expenditures has basically remained flat at around 20%-22%.

Japan also has the highest corporate taxes in the world and also high income tax rates. High taxes and large public infrastructure / bank bailouts have been the Japanese economic model for 20 years. The result, poor economic performance. Unfortunately, President Obama is following the exact same game plan, big government spending and future tax hikes on the free market.

What does all of this have to do with Hamilton, well, we already have some of the highest tax rates in the GTA and we have recently been building out our infrastructure. In other words, we are adding assets to the public sector (through higher water rates), thereby reducing the amount that flows to the competitive free market.

If the city cut property taxes, people would spend this in the private sector. When the private sector grows, tax revenues grow, when tax revenues grow debt levels fall as a percent of GDP. However, when the private sector grows, people demand higher returns on their money, which is ultimately what leads to higher interest rates and higher debt costs for governments.

There is a quote that says, too whom much is given, much is expected. Well, unless the City of Hamilton first gives the people of Hamilton generous tax cuts, it will not get us going back to work and supplying the tax revenues it expects us to. Greedy governments that worry more about their own balance sheet than taxpayer's balance sheets kill the private sector goose that lays the golden egg.

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted October 13, 2010 at 17:04:20

Just thought I'd say, I can read the snippiness in the article too. Not saying he meant it but it's there. No biggy, he brings up fair points. I would like to say I know C M and he is the type of guy who gets things done, give him a project and eventually it's done well. That's why he's better than the last bunch of city managers we've had. I've been in business for years and when it's this big a deal, numbers are never bang on. If he committed to an actual figure and it was off either way, then he'd be persecuted for that. It's totally understandable and he probably knew the deadline (ha ha) was being extended which gives more time for actual numbers to be determined. Have to look at the overall picture rather than jumping on each and every statement/article etc. Come on, we're smarter than that, we aren't city councilors.

Comment edited by Woody10 on 2010-10-13 16:06:20

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