The Aldershot financing plan depends on $70 million in Pan Am Games funding from Toronto 2015, but the City of Hamilton still has the first shot at securing that money by February 1.
By Ryan McGreal
Published January 06, 2011
Yesterday afternoon, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and a business consortium led by Paletta International pitched an Aldershot stadium plan to Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring, Aldershot Councillor Rick Craven and senior City staff that would not require any upfront capital or operating costs from the City.
According to the Spectator, the consortium proposed a $90-120 million plan to build a 22,000 seat facility that the team would manage.
Funding would come from the Toronto 2015 money on the table for a Pan Am stadium, plus free land and another $30 million from Paletta to close the gap. Hamilton would not have to contribute any money from its Future Fund.
According to Mayor Goldring, "If they need more than that, well, that's the Ticats' challenge."
The National Post notes that the City would still be on the hook for any necessary infrastructure improvements. As Goldring explains:
Our part of the deal would be to facilitate it, and if there is infrastructure in the area that is required at some point we would be asked to complete that infrastructure.
Burlington City Manager Roman Martiuk said he could prepare a list of questions from the City in two weeks if instructed by Council to do investigate the offer.
If the Ticats manage to pull this off, it will be a remarkable conclusion to a long and acrimonious struggle over the location of the Pan Am stadium.
It's easy to see why the team likes this proposal: it gives them a new stadium on greenfield land next to the highway with significant private sector investment and plenty of opportunities for ancillary development, objectives they have repeatedly highlighted as priorities.
A Burlington location accessible mainly by highway would cost the team some Hamilton fans but gain some Burlington and Oakville fans. More to the point, the lost Hamilton fans would on balance be less affluent, whereas the gained Halton fans would be on balance more affluent.
That means the team and its business partners can earn more revenue per fan by charging premium prices for the upgraded facilities, new executive boxes and improved concessions at a new stadium, as well as parking revenue and related entertainments.
They may well be able to make the numbers work with a 22,000 seat facility, though it would eventually have to be upgraded to host Grey Cup games.
There's just one snag: the financing plan depends on $70 million in Pan Am Games funding from Toronto 2015, and the City of Hamilton still has the first shot at securing that money.
Hamilton has until February 1 to present its final proposal for a Pan Am stadium, after which time Toronto 2015 will select a Plan B location in Brampton or Mississauga to build a 6,000 seat community stadium.
At this point, Hamilton City Council has exactly two options:
Toronto 2015 CEO Ian Troop reaffirmed this week that the deadline is final, a 6,000 seat stadium is a viable bid and would not require a professional tenant, and Hamilton "remains in the driver's seat" until the February 1 deadline.
Mayor Bob Bratina has already stated his belief that the City should either build a 30,000 seat stadium for the Ticats or nothing.
Bratina is still trying to persuade Council to reconsider a Confederation Park site for the stadium after the Committee of the Whole rejected it in late December. Bratina even suggested revisiting the previously-rejected East Mountain site or introducing a new site at Speedway Park on Stoney Creek mountain.
However, at this point there is absolutely no way to complete the necessary studies before the February 1 deadline, which Troop insists is final. Every other potential site is necessarily a non-starter.
If Hamilton does not have a plan on February 1 that confirms a location, financing and due diligence on remediation and construction, Toronto 2015 will proceed with its Plan B site.
Astonishingly, Ticat apologists are already trying to frame this endgame as a choice between narrow municipal interest and a broader regional interest, i.e. between Hamilton thinking only of its own city-building needs or putting the 'regional' needs of the Ticats first.
It is an argument fueled by emotional ties to a private business that has so far managed to win fan loyalty far beyond any real net contribution it makes to the local economy or culture.
Certainly Mayor Bratina has made his preference for the team's interests over the City's public interest quite clear. Yesterday, Ticat manager Scott Mitchell said Bratina "has been fantastic" for his willingness to find some site - any site - in Hamilton that meets the team's demands.
Unfortunately, none of those sites work or can possibly be made to work in the time that remains before the Toronto 2015 deadline.
If the past several months of frantic lurching from one alternate site to the next have demonstrated anything, it's that the West Harbour really was the best site from the perspective of the City's objectives.
In support of a scalable community facility, Ward 8 Councillor Terry Whitehead notes that if the Ticats are going to leave town anyway and Council lets this opportunity slip, Hamilton will be left with no legacy at the West Harbour and a "white elephant" in a shuttered Ivor Wynne Stadium.
After setting aside all the bullying and emotion, the only remaining question for Council is to determine whether it still agrees with the city-building potential of a community-owned sports stadium in the North End that remediates a high profile brownfield, unlocks the surrounding properties for reinvestment, synergizes with a potentially world-class Velodrome and ties in with all-day GO Train service.
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