If, according to Bob Young, cost and not location is the primary issue left concerning the Pan Am Games stadium, a strong case can be made for a 22,000 seat stadium at West Harbour.
By Paul Shaker
Published January 17, 2011
When the scalable West Harbour stadium was proposed, the Ticats were still insisting on a suburban location with highway visibility and access. Since then, things have obviously changed with the Ivor Wynne proposal.
As Bob Young said recently, "The big improvement" [of Ivor Wynne] over west harbour or east Mountain options is "simple costs."
West Harbour Stadium / Velodrom Concept
If, according to Bob Young, cost and not location is the primary issue left concerning the Pan Am Games stadium, then a strong case can be made for a 22,000 seat stadium at West Harbour that would serve the twin needs of community redevelopment and a future home for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
This is based on the available information:
The Ticats said that a 22,000 seat stadium was what they were planning at Aldershot for their needs with a price range of $90 to $120 million
City studies indicate up to 22,000 seats could be built for $102 million as a more modest facility.
The Deloitte stadium business case report [PDF] showed a $102M facility could be built without any Ticat money and be sustainable from the City's perspective (see page 56)
The Deloitte stadium business case also included $4.5 - $7.5M money gained from selling Ivor Wynne for redevelopment, which would go towards the cost of a West Harbour stadium (page 56). Where will this money come from if Ivor Wynne is the site?
The City of Hamilton has already spent about $10M on West Harbour land assembly. This was to be part of our local Pan Am budget so if Ivor Wynne is developed, is this $10M now go on the general tax levy?
The costs for brownfield remediation for residential development are substantially higher than for a stadium so what are the realistic chances of short-term West Harbour redevelopment if the stadium does not go ahead.
If the Ticat sponsors (Molson, Tim Horton's, etc.) have put "substantial" dollars on the table for the Ivor Wynne proposal, what is this amount and could this also be used as the private sector contribution towards a West Harbour site?
The West Harbour site is approved for Future Fund dollars while Ivor Wynne is not so where does this leave the approval status of the local contribution?
The node at the West Harbour was to include a regional GO Transit station. The land-uplift due to the presence of this facility has been estimated [PDF] at $15.4M (see page 31).
Without track field events in Hamilton, there is no need for the practice track land adjacent to the stadium. However, if this was cleaned-up as part of the pan am process, how much money would its sale raise for the City? The Momentum report [PDF] estimated that development of the area could result in an $2.1M increase is assessment based on commercial development (see page 35).
City Council has voted to examine the Ivor Wynne proposal and the scalable option at West Harbour as plan B. All that would be required is for staff to examine the scalable option at both the 6,000 and 22,000 seat level and then assess the viability compared to the Ivor Wynne proposal.
If the costs analysis comes back relatively close between the options, the decision should be made based on the ancillary benefits that each location would bring to the city and its redevelopment goals.
While this debate has gone in multiple directions over the last year, the fact remains that we still, after all this time, have in front of us the opportunity to realize the potential of the Pan Am games as a transformative development for the city.
A 22,000 seat West Harbour stadium could be an option to explore in order to achieve multiple city redevelopment objectives as well as keeping the Ticats.
Knowing the costs and opportunities as they stand right now would ensure that the community would end up with significant public benefit from the Future Fund investment rather than settling for a "last resort" that really only maintains the status quo.
Update: Is it too late for this option?
The fact remains that almost all the studies and costing has been done for West Harbour, far more than even Ivor Wynne at this point so time is not an issue. Further, City Council has voted to examine the Ivor Wynne proposal and the scalable option at West Harbour as plan B.
All that would be required is for staff to examine the scalable option at both the 6,000 and 22,000 seat level (which is just an incremental cost) and then assess the viability compared to the Ivor Wynne proposal.