By Ryan McGreal
Published July 06, 2010
Yet again, Hamilton is poised to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
In a draft Report of the Facilitator [PDF link] obtained by the Hamilton Spectator, Pan Am Stadium facilitator Michael Fenn recommends that the city consider an East Mountain stadium site at the intersection of the Red Hill Valley Parkway and the Lincoln Alexander Parkway.
The site was suggested during a late presentation from Metrolinx and the Ontario Realty Corporation, which manages government-owned land and which owns the suggested property.
According to the report, the East Mountain site meets the Hamilton Tiger-Cats' objectives of "ready highway access, 'surge' capacity of local roadways, substantial and convenient proprietary parking, and access to regional transit" as well as maximizing revenue-generating activities and offering "prominent visibility for enhanced 'naming rights' opportunities".
It also allows for rapid land assembly, reduces the time and cost associated with environmental assessments and avoids the potential for objection from local residents.
The report focused prominently on the idea of a "driveway-to-driveway" experience for Ticats fans, concluding, "Accommodating automobile traffic is crucial to stadium success."/p>
Fenn recommends that the city "give immediate consideration to acquiring)" the lands at the East Mountain site. The lands are currently owned by the Ontario Realty Corporation. He also recommends that the city continue assembling land for the West Harbour site, as it "will be required for redevelopment purposes irrespective of the stadium decision."
Fenn also recommends that if this site is chosen, the city's contribution should be reduced in favour of increased private investment - including more investment from the Ticats - so that the city has more money to invest in "downtown and waterfront projects".
While Fenn notes the city's criteria in selecting a Pan Am stadium location - fiscal goals, community redevelopment, economic development - his report does not explain how a stadium next to the highway and surrounded by thousands of parking spots will achieve these objectives.
The economic research on stadium locations clearly demonstrates that suburban, highway-accessible stadiums are an economic black hole that do not generate any spinoff development to benefit the city.
The closest the report comes to explaining how the East Mountain location would meet the city's goals is when it suggests that the city could reduced its financial contribution to the stadium and spend the money other downtown revitalization projects instead.
Note that this is still a draft report and might change before Fenn presents it to Council on July 7.