By Ryan McGreal
Published August 23, 2010
Tim Schmitt, a sports columnist for the Niagara Gazette, wrote a column in Saturday asking whether Hamilton can learn from Buffalo's mistakes:
Back here in Western New York, where our gaffes have forced us to stalk retailers like Bass Pro, we long ago missed the window to put pieces downtown. The majority of college students in the area attend classes outside the boundaries of a city (we can lump Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Lockport and North Tonawanda into that one), so we make do by scrambling for any project that might find its way into downtown areas, giving ridiculous tax breaks as bait. At the same time, we send 70,000 people to Orchard Park on at least seven Sundays a year, and watch as a couple thousand make the trek to Lewiston to watch Niagara basketball and hockey.
The good news, if you want to call it that, is that city leaders in Hamilton haven't blinked, drawing the ire of Young who's said in the last few weeks that he's considering relocating the franchise, maybe even to the tiny hamlet of Moncton, New Brunswick.
Course, if he does, and Hamilton still builds its 25,000-seat stadium on the west harbor where planners have urged, the city will certainly be in line for the next CFL team that becomes available.
In the end, smart planning will help the downtown area succeed, and many will reap the benefits (like they do on game nights at HSBC Arena).
If the owner gets his way, however, he's the only one who ends making a profit.
It's astonishing how quickly the essential soundness of investing in urban revitalization has taken a back seat in the ongoing public debate, squeezed out by the relentless flood of politics and propaganda.