Sports

Stadiums, Wind Turbines and City Building Compromises

By Graham Crawford
Published September 01, 2010

I'm still processing all of the information and implications of yesterday's decision by City Councillors to explore a McMaster Innovation Park (MIP) site in the Aberdeen Ave. / Longwood Rd. area for the Pan Am stadium. From my perspective, it stinks. Big time. There aren't too many possible outcomes, though:

  1. The site is "studied" and approved.
  2. The site is "studied" and not approved.
  3. Another site is put on the table (which won't be the West Harbour).
  4. They all agree to take a pass on Pan Am (unlikely given the upcoming election and the implications for the longevity of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats).

I don't support severing the MIP land to accommodate the Cats, but you probably already knew that. My biggest concern is that the deal will end up hinging on McMaster University agreeing to swap land with the City. They give us MIP land for a stadium; and we give them the land we now own in the WH.

The issue is what they will put on the land. Councillor Tom Jackson already hinted at this yesterday in his comments. That could mean building what are essentially warehouses, with scientists inside vs. forklift drivers and racks. They close at 5:00 PM - every day.

If I have to compromise on MIP, I want it to be in isolation. I don't want to swap land with McMaster. At an absolute minimum, we need to make West Harbour remediation to a residential level a condition of the deal - and the Province and the Feds should be paying for the lion's share of the costs.

City Building Criteria

If we must support compromise, I think we need to continue to remember and to stress the City Building criteria, the same criteria that Mayor Fred Eisenberger has been promoting from the start: residential intensification of our downtown, brownfield remediation, use of public transit, economic spin-offs for established businesses, linkage to existing assets already used by the public (harbour, downtown), protection of the environment.

It's a good and defensible set of criteria. All of the sites need to be passed through this filter. It's one of the key reasons the WH is on Fred's mind - because it ticks all of the boxes.

Good luck doing the same with MIP. But hey, that's what compromise is all about, I guess.

The thing that simply bugs me is what exactly does the MIP site have that WH does not? Visibility? That raises the who gets the revenue from naming rights question, which for me is far from having been answered.

A compromise site and we have to let the Cats keep the naming rights revenue, which could be $3-5-7 million over ten years?

While I'm ranting, the business case from city staff says the WH is not sustainable. Currently, we spend $1.3 million to subsidize IWS/The Cats. Staff say that a WH stadium without the Cats would require an annual subsidy of $2-2.5 million.

I'll take the lower number because it suits, and point out that the difference is $700,000. That amount is spent on the full compensation/administration costs for exactly three Councillors. Given the choice, I say we drop three Councillors and subsidize a stadium in the WH.

OK, not realistic, but made me feel better just to type it.

Siemens and the Most Good

Here's a quotation from an article that appeared in the Spectator today about Siemens:

Siemens spokesperson D.L. Leslie said an original list of 16 potential locations has been culled to eight between Hamilton and Windsor. A final decision is to be made by the end of the month.

While it ponders that decision, the company is being pressed by a coalition of union members, city staff and provincial and federal NDP politicians to pick Hamilton.

Among their arguments, they contend that since public money is being invested in the wind turbine project the company should be required to locate its new factory where it will do the most good.

We seem to push "most good" for a factory but not for a stadium. Not only that, but we won't be paying for the factory!

Enough. I think I need to take a blood pressure pill. Either that or go back to my home planet.

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 HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted September 01, 2010 at 11:07:21

"A compromise site and we have to let the Cats keep the naming rights revenue, which could be $3-5-7 million over ten years?"


I hear what you're saying Graham but I'm sure should any site work out that is mutually agreeable between the city and the TigerCats, that an agreement will happen that can satisfy both parties. It has to be a win-win for both or otherwise lets forget the stadium in the first place and move on. I agree if the city is getting screwed on any deal in actual fact, then why build the stadium at all.

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By renegauthier (registered) - website | Posted September 01, 2010 at 11:09:14

The best way Hamilton can get in on the wind turbine action is to commit to buying and testing some wind turbines at the harbour and possibly at the top of the escarpment.

As far as the stadium, there is other land besides the West Harbour that can be traded, especially across the street on Longwood and other locations. But considering the MIP people purchased that land for a song, they should meet the city halfway. If we get a retractable roof stadium, there won't be just 10 football games and a few soccer games. There will be lots of events happening!

Let's at least enjoy the goodwill and peace between the city and the Tiger Cats and a group willing to make a deal for the right reasons. We deserve it.

Comment edited by renegauthier on 2010-09-01 10:12:43

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By frank (registered) | Posted September 01, 2010 at 11:20:22

I was watching a show about the MV Resolution (the 6 legged jack ship that's used to put up wind turbines) yesterday and I couldn't help but think why we didn't have more of them around here? I see no problem with putting them in the harbour (unless there's not enough wind) even in the lake itself and in rural areas. There are a whack of them by Port Burwell... I think they're actually quite elegant, an obvious indication of a communities efforts to take energy to the green side.

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By loveforever (registered) | Posted September 01, 2010 at 11:20:57

I'm still processing all of the information and implications of yesterday's decision by City Councillors to explore a McMaster Innovation Park (MIP) site in the Aberdeen Ave. / Longwood Rd. area for the Pan Am stadium. From my perspective, it stinks.

The thing that simply bugs me is what exactly does the MIP site have that WH does not? Visibility?


Well said Graham !

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By renegauthier (registered) - website | Posted September 01, 2010 at 11:30:09

loveforever,

Visibility is WH's biggest weakness. Visibility from the 403 at Longwood is worth millions more in naming rights. It is also further away from residential areas. No houses need to be torn down to make way for it. It is not contributing to sprawl, as people over here have complained about.

With a reasonable swap, it could happen and save the city millions in purchasing. But I also think that Bob Young should put his offer to help remediate WH back on the table too. The more he can help the city, the better we can all heal our divisions and be back at peace.

We need some magnanomous gestures here to help us all get along!

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By Andrea (registered) | Posted September 01, 2010 at 11:41:26

Visibility is not the key factor in naming rights. It's the association and the use of the name in the media reporting.

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By kevin (registered) | Posted September 01, 2010 at 11:47:28

I don't get the big deal with naming rights. If I drive by the ACC ten times a day, I'm still going to fly Air Transat if it's cheaper. If the stadium is called Tim Horton's Place, for example, I won't frequent TH any more or less frequently than I already do. Can someone, please, explain what the fuss is about? Thanks.

Comment edited by kevin on 2010-09-01 10:48:15

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By H+H (registered) - website | Posted September 01, 2010 at 11:48:15

Andrea

You're absolutely correct. Association and media mentions and visuals are the real benefits to an organization prepared to pay to have their name on a building/facility. The highway visibility criteria from the Ti-Cats is nonsense, and should be challenged as such. It may add a little to the fee, but not much.

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted September 01, 2010 at 11:58:47

I agree that trading future jobs for a stadium is extremely foolish. However I believe a land swap would actually be the lesser of evils in this case. If we don't give Mac some land somewhere, we are looking at a net loss of employment some point down the line. We can't give them West Harbour because it would then be relegated to the last phase of MIP expansion and sit vacant for at least 10 years. Residential development needs to begin in the west harbour as soon as this nightmare is over. The city is already in about $10 million deep and we need to see the benefits.

Comment edited by jonathan dalton on 2010-09-01 10:59:23

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted September 01, 2010 at 12:56:58

This is from the spec article today:

"The order of the process, I think, will be satisfying the Ticats first, then McMaster, then site logistics," said the city's Pan Am lead hand, David Adames.

I may be misinterpreting the context but shouldn't the order be:

1) Satisfy McMaster. They have money and time invested and are already providing actual full time jobs in this city.

2) Take care of logistics to satisfy city building criteria

3) See if there is a way to do #2 that still satisfies the Ticats

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By F. Ward Cleat (anonymous) | Posted September 01, 2010 at 12:58:20

About a week ago I toured the Longwood Road/ Aberdeen area. I also studied the satellite view. The thing that struck me is the amount of open and underused industrial space that has a direct connection to the MIP lands.
I think most of us are aware of the 38 acres McMaster owns on both sides of Longwood Rd.. As well as the 15 acre parcel south of Chatham St., east of the new canmet building that the city owns. The multi-storied old industrial buildings fronting on Aberdeen (east side of Longwood) are privately owned and to my knowledge were being used for steel warehousing. Trucking access for these buildings was originally from the north side of the atrium building beside the proposed hotel site. Access has been cut off by construction at the canmet building, but I'm not sure if the buildings are still in use.
We know the city has a plan to extend Frid St. in an arc south of Chatham St. to meet Longwood. A short trip along Frid I spotted at least a half-dozen for lease signs and what appears to be another closed steel plant at Chatham and Frid directly behind the MIP buildings. There's also the old textile factory at Chatham and Dundurn thats been passed from one owner to another for years. A handsome brick structure that was supposed to be condo conversions but might be better used as R&D commercial space.
Finally the large tract of land south of Aberdeen and Longwood, probably owned by CP. Steelcare has a large warehouse fronting the CP rail lines but west of the warehouse sits 10's of acres of open space.
My point being that the possibilities in this area seem endless. Just at face value they're complicated but, 'Rome wasn't built in a day.'

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 01, 2010 at 13:18:53

Visibility from the 403 at Longwood is worth millions more in naming rights.

Let's chat about this after a naming rights deal is struck...mind you, we won't know the difference between the two sites.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 01, 2010 at 13:19:48

F Ward Cleat - great comments. I agree - the MIP district can spill over to Dundurn, Frid, Chatham etc....

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted September 01, 2010 at 14:41:24

I'll second F Ward Cleat's comments. The wife and me have spent a bit of time around there at Ray's Boathouse after a workout at Reid's Gravity Climbing Gym on Frid near the soccer bubble and we have ventured along Dundurn and Locke as well, very nice. And have spent time at Kelsey's close by after some Sunday slo-pitch games at Churchill Park and have eaten and had a drink at the Chedoke golf club after a hike on the trail there and was at the Climb for Cancer to cheer on the TigerCats/Argos team.

Comment edited by HamiltonFan on 2010-09-01 13:42:38

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By F. Ward Cleat (anonymous) | Posted September 01, 2010 at 14:42:18

I posted the previous comments not because I endorse the site, but because far to often we distort the facts in these debates and I find it counter-productive. We tend to put everything in a box and ignore what's outside the box.
Another example is the WH site we've focused on 25 acres surrounding the old Rheem factory. When in fact this site sits below 2 bluffs to the east and west, one of the more interesting city parks to the south and a rail yard and waterfront north. One look from a satellite view shows 10's of acres of unused land. Who owns it? What prevents it from being developed?
How about the LaFarge properties on Windermere Road in the East-End. 30 plus acres at the most easterly point of the harbour. Backing onto the Windermere basin a shallow body of water fead by the Red Hill Creek. This property is the 1st thing visitors see when they take the Burlington St. off ramp (sand piles). Taxpayers are investing $700 million dollars in the water treatment plant that treats the sewage water before it enters the bay via the basin. The land is presently on the market. Shouldn't we be thinking about re-purposing these lands. Clean Water Technology comes to mind.
The one thing all these sites have in common is that they are considered 'brownfields, and we have a huge inventory of brownfields. That may seem overwhelming to some but to me those same brownfields are our future because most if not all of them have strategic locations for developement.
"Sorry for the rant, but 53 years in this city can do things to you."

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted September 01, 2010 at 14:51:58

F. Ward, the Lafarge site was discussed quite a bit way back on Ticats.ca and I agree with you 100 percent, I think it was Morelli who mentioned that some time ago as an alternate site. But many of the folk at ticats.ca said it would smell from the steel factories and that. I disagreed with many as I've played slo-pitch at Globe a few times and never had a problem and the homes on the beach strip, some of which are expensive and there are no condos there, don't seem to have a problem albeit they are a bit north compared with the Lafarge site.

At any rate, excellent read.

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By F. Ward Cleat (anonymous) | Posted September 01, 2010 at 15:20:41

The LaFarge site to me is an opportunity to start the rehabilatation of the old industrial core. I've heard talk of restoring the natural wetlands in the Windermere Basin which would be at the waters edge on this property. I think it has something to do with Randell Reef clean-up.
When I first heard this site was available I thought this would be a good site for a business park. Maybe a few low-rise iconic office buildings. I hate to see it become another scrapyard like the neighboring properties.
The Burlington Street/Industrial Drive corridor is the eastern entranceway to Downtown Hamilton. This area has so much potential above and beyond what we see there today. The Windermere site could be the catalyst.

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By WhatAbout (anonymous) | Posted September 01, 2010 at 15:55:51

I agree with Graham that a swap of land involving the West Harbour should be off the table. BUT...How about Kay Drage park? It's former landfill that is used for recreational purposes, but it could also be used for innovation space. Is has great visibility for start-up companies that may locate there and is in relatively close proximity to Innovation Park. Also, the city owns it so it could do the swap.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted September 01, 2010 at 15:56:50

Oops, I mean't some condos there in the above post.

It'll be interesting if this site does surface in the next week or so for the Sept. 14 deadline, who knows.

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By Henry and Joe (anonymous) | Posted September 01, 2010 at 20:34:57

Great comments F.Ward Cleat:

That Lafarge site seems like a decent compromise. I don't know much about it, but on the surface it looks like we would get a brownfield cleaned up and the ticats get their highway exposure and parking. Also, people from out of town don't have to drive through our eclectic east/north end neighbourhoods (which I like, but are somehow offputting to certain bourgeois suburbanites). We would protect our employment and park lands as well.

___________________________________________________________________________________

You can't get to heaven on a GO bus, and you can't rebuild Eden on your lawn.
- Kyp Harness

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted September 01, 2010 at 22:41:14

Also, people from out of town don't have to drive through our eclectic east/north end neighbourhoods (which I like, but are somehow offputting to certain bourgeois suburbanites).


Henry, I think it's more the image that Hamilton has among many of being unsafe, dirty, crime ridden etc. in such areas rather than actuality as I agree with you, I like as well. I actually look forward coming from my old east mountain home down the Kenilworth access and parking at Centre Mall and walking along Barton to the stadium for games. Barton from Centre Mall to IWS is as you say, eclectic and as such I find it kind of neat and I have never felt in danger really and enjoy walking with other TigerCat fans to the games along there. Sure, some of this area is a bit rundown but it has a real feel to it nonetheless that I like.

Comment edited by HamiltonFan on 2010-09-01 21:42:19

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By JonC (registered) | Posted September 01, 2010 at 23:08:12

As to why we don't have more turbines in Hamilton, we don't have enough wind to warrant it. http://www.lio.ontario.ca/imf-ows/imf.js... Lake Huron is the place to build if you're a company looking to maximize your profits. The turbine in Toronto is there for advertising, outside of that it was a waste of money. Having said that, the capacity for fabricating the devices isn't dictated by the distance to their erection.

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By Wray (anonymous) | Posted September 02, 2010 at 01:40:22

Let's cut to the quick.Mark Chamberlain buys the team and everyone is happy including Bob Young.Afterall he claims to be tired of losing money.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted September 02, 2010 at 05:30:21

They all agree to take a pass on Pan Am (unlikely given the upcoming election and the implications for the longevity of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats).

From the beginning, I've watched as people have, at various junctures, injected some sizable amounts of emotion, of fear, of perceived outcomes should this, that or the other come to pass.

All the while, my own belief hovering in the background: that there is nothing at all 'wrong' with backing out of the Pan Am Games process entirely.

Unfortunately, whenever such a 'negative' proposal is even suggested, the nay-sayers begin to clamour, the Chicken Littles begin clucking about the sky falling, and the down-voters commit themselves to effective banishment action regarding 'He/She Who Dared Whisper Such Heretical Nonsense'.

Most assumptions made about the ramifications of such an action are fueled by the person's a) personal perspective, b) ignorance about how this city actually works, and c) a lacking of understanding of the bigger picture, the context of Hamilton within Ontario, within Canada.

Mature entities conduct themselves based on factors a lot more sound than some of the desperation-tinged assumptions of what this action or that decision will result in. Mature entities appreciate on a very basic, very deep level that most situations are best addressed in sensible ways, that nothing is accomplished by creating a plan that has at its core some meek need 'not to fail'.

There has been, at least through this summer, a vein of desperation that has been mined, even by those who have shown incredible civic enthusiasm, truly inspirational initiative to push for what they have believed to be 'the right way to go'. And while I understand why this desperation exists (having been 'a Hamiltonian' going back to a time most readers here would have to either Google to grasp the context of, or spend some time in the Local History archives at the HPL), it's still not a wise state in which to be making decisions.

So I guess I'm especially cynical (I'm being generous here) about the ramifications of a 'pull-out' because of this being an election year, or the impact on the longevity of the Ti-Cats. That this issue should be the pivotal election issue that it has become is distressing enough; it speaks volumes about how badly MSM provides context (no, I'm not actually expecting them to execute this role; I may have been born at night, but not last night...), and worse, how little the average person seems to understand our local politics. (Or perhaps more precisely, how little interest they have in developing an understanding.) As for the Ti-Cats and the implications of their longevity... That this has become conflated with the greater stadium issue speaks loudly for the need for clearer heads and more mature thinking.

Having said all that, at the very least all of 'this' has been an invaluable opportunity to observe a community struggling with what amount to 'growth issues'. And I'm not referring to physical growth, but the kind having to do with maturing emotionally and intellectually. You know; as in an eventual 'mature entity'.

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By frank (registered) | Posted September 02, 2010 at 08:29:08

Anyone read about the interest of Gehry the guy who designed the Guggenheim Museum in Bilboa in West Harbor? That'd be cool

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 02, 2010 at 09:06:24

Hey, I'm all for iconic architecture, and a Gehry building is infinitely preferrable to a waterjet, or a casino, or any number of other sad ideas that have been floated for putting Hamilton 'on the map'. But I'll reserve my judgement on how 'cool' this would be until we know what the content of the building will be. So far the developers aren't telling.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted September 02, 2010 at 09:07:15

My preferred (new) site would be Plastimet, behind the General. Plenty of road access to the mountain and accross town (Wentworth/Victoria), huge site badly in need if remediation, and a total lack of other plans for it.

It is worth mentioning that the giant rail yard behind the MIP is out of use (according to my friend who just went through train school). The one at Bayfront is still active and clearly necessary for both future industrial and residential development in the north end. Putting a stadium in either, IMHO, would be a mistake, but the WH rail yard moreso. The railroads won't ever get that land back, and it's much harder to place a rail yard than a stadium.

If anything, Canada needs to double our national rail system (Trains, tracks etc), if we're going to survive peak oil as one of the largest and most sparsely populated countries on Earth. If we can't do that, let's at least put a moratorium on making rail freight and travel any harder or more expensive in the long run.

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By realfreeenterpriser (registered) | Posted September 02, 2010 at 10:01:54

I think Plastimet is superior to Longwood and offers some interesting trade-offs with West Harbour; poorer access to the water but fewer "neighbours", better arterial road access from the East/QEW, mountain accesses and Ferguson Avenue railtrail. Both sites have similar access to downtown and GO. As well, the City owns it.

Although Young HAS mentioned the "Burlington Street connection" he's probably stuck on the "visibilty" thing which I really don't believe has any traction. He seems to be equating a football stadium to a fruit stand or chip wagon where impulse buying rules the day. I've yet to meet anybody who, while driving along, squeals with delight and says "look there's a stadium, let's go to game".

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By frank (registered) | Posted September 02, 2010 at 10:13:49

highwater, I don't think judgement needs to be reserved if someone like Gehry is interested. When an architect designs a structure like the Guggenheim which transformed Bilboa, he wouldn't risk his reputation on a flop somewhere else. Rest assured the structure would be magnificent.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 02, 2010 at 10:19:41

I'm of two minds, both of them somewhat cynical:

  1. Gehry loves to pick underperforming cities with potential gets a thrill out of the role his iconic buildings play in pushing those cities over the threshold;
  2. He can smell our desperation and wants in on that action.

I'm joking, of course. Kind of.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted September 02, 2010 at 10:33:59

It's an interesting photo in The Spec today of the Walt Disney concert hall in LA. Maybe I'm a bit old fashioned and a building like that would grow on me over time, not sure.


real, visibility from a highway from what I've read is major for naming rights money. It's not that say BMO cares if anyone goes to games at the stadium there, or even Rogers with the Rogers Centre, but everyone and their uncle sees those names when they drive by on the Gardiner and there are a lot of cars driving by, it's actually fairly cheap advertising for them.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 02, 2010 at 14:20:57

I just saw this on twitter from the Spectator's Emma Reilly:

There are rumblings about Confederation Park being back on the table for the #PanAm stadium. Watch tomorrow's paper for full details.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 02, 2010 at 14:30:28

Rest assured the structure would be magnificent.

Oh I have no doubt the building would look mahvelous. But until I know what the heck is going on inside the building, I will reserve judgement on how much it would really do for the city.

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 02, 2010 at 14:32:00

There are rumblings about Confederation Park being back on the table for the #PanAm stadium. Watch tomorrow's paper for full details.

Oh God, I think I'm going to be sick.

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By Seymour (anonymous) | Posted September 02, 2010 at 14:47:35

Confederation Park, GREAT! That's where the stadium should have been located in the first place.

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted September 02, 2010 at 15:19:43

Oh God, I think I'm going to be sick.

Keep that stadium diet down, Conferedation Park needs a 2/3 majority vote. Last time it was brought up it had like what, one vote?

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By realfreeenterpriser (registered) | Posted September 02, 2010 at 15:22:39

It would also need money from the Future Fund (possibly the reason Young folded and suggested Aberdeen/Longwood)

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By highwater (registered) | Posted September 02, 2010 at 15:39:09

Hope you're right, Jon. I'm wasting away here. ;) Although seeing how running scared they were on Tuesday, I wouldn't put it past them.

It would also need money from the Future Fund (possibly the reason Young folded and suggested Aberdeen/Longwood)

McHattie's motion not to use FF funds on MIP went down to defeat. If they can justify using FF funds to put a stadium on our most valuable employment lands, I'm sure they'd have no trouble justifying it for paving over greenspace.

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By Brownfields not greenfields (anonymous) | Posted September 02, 2010 at 15:41:07

No BY did not fold he very smartly got other sites back on the table and this of course means his 'I think Green space would be better off as a building and parking lot attitude'. If it goes to MIP put a track and rec centre in it so Hamilton can have a real legacy tenant - the public that is paying for it. If people don't trust the ticats now why would trust them to manage our Facility on prime employment land?

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By arienc (registered) | Posted September 02, 2010 at 23:10:16

Just read that Centennial Parkway was taken off the list of recommended station sites as there is proposed development at that site - the GO station would be at Fruitland Rd.. So Confederation Park doesn't really work either unless somehow the city can make a deal with Metrolinx and WalMart (I think it's Walmart going in there).

A very complicated mess, this stadium business is.

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By sbwoodside (registered) - website | Posted September 03, 2010 at 00:41:29

Keep Gehry away from our city! One or two of his buildings -- cool. But they keep cropping up everywhere, and they are UGLY and don't fit into the architectural landscape of hamilton.

The problem is "Starchitects". These people, like Gehry, or go look at the ROM, horribly disfigured by Libeskind [1]. Sure, Bilbao was cool, but the world only needs one building like that. Instead, people think that bringing in another starchitect building will somehow make their city cool, and build a monstrosity that leaks, is unfriendly to the urban streetscape, and disappoints in the end. Take the MIT Stata Centre, which I've been in. It's totally wonky looking, and very cool. At first. Then you realize that it's just creepy and weird, and when you go inside, it gets even worse. Try fitting furniture into your office with those weird angles.

Maybe if Gehry could restrain himself like he did at the AGO, it might be workable. But otherwise, bring on the classic traditional architecture! We've got lots of good design here in Hamilton, let's continue a good theme.

[1] And criticized right here on RTH! http://www.raisethehammer.org/blog/728/

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By Mahesh_P_Butani (registered) - website | Posted September 03, 2010 at 00:52:58

"Gehry floats iconic building proposal for west harbour site."

Does Hamilton need 'Star architect' power to create its identity?

Sole sourcing has continued to hurt Hamilton's growth for decades.

International design competitions for many sites in Hamilton can bring the sizzle we crave so much in our city.

But instead of focusing on innovative planning and design, Hamilton is once again setting itself up to lose its way with an easy fix—by attempting to recreate the 'Bilbao Effect', to buy grace in an election year.

Design expert John Thackara argues that Richard Florida’s 2002 book The Rise of the Creative Class “has had an enormous influence on cities’ design aspirations. They are often obsessed with attracting the creative class,” he continues. “The problem with this thinking is that it creates a monocultural view. I’m actually predicting an anti–design-city movement. A No Logo kind of cultural backlash against the idea of a ‘design city’ is very likely. The more insightful architects and designers I meet think the city is too designed—there isn’t enough space for people, for spontaneous creativity. The danger with an overdesigned city is that it squeezes out the space for spontaneous bottom-up creativity and social innovation.” ~ The Bilbao Effect, Dwell Magazine

How Toronto Plans for Failure

Hard Times For Star Architects

You are so wrong Frank Gehry

"Hyping the power of one building to revive an area is also a distraction from the real business of putting up good buildings, Gehry said. “I don’t think you start out to make a marquee development. They talk about “spectacle architecture” and I think people jump on these kind of things but from my point of view I don’t start out to do that." ~ Frank Gehry: The Bilbao Effect is Bulls##t.

The field of Design is moving far beyond the static iconic form making of the 1980's and 90's.

Neri Oxman: on Designing Form

Neri Oxman: Performance-Driven Design

Towards a Biological understanding of Archtiecture and Urbanism

Hamilton with its engineering research base can leapfrog the 'politics of designer icons' of the last century to develop a new Canadian architecture—if it chooses to.

Mahesh P. Butani

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By frank (registered) | Posted September 03, 2010 at 09:01:56

Mahesh your posts are usually great but they always seem to have some sort of "effect" to explain something. I get that a lot of us are highly educated but I don't have the time or energy to read all kinds of studies... Not to mention I can cruise the internet and find all kinds of studies to back up pretty much anything. You seem like a decent guy but if you're talking above people's heads (there are a lot of working class people who wouldn't understand or want to understand this study or that study as you can see with this whole stadium debate) they're not going to know if they should vote for you or not and that'll result in a default of 'not'.

A building CAN revitalize an area just as much as any stadium could perhaps even more. In fact, an attention grabbing, modern design would attract the type of person that Hamilton needs more of : forward thinking, progressive and open-minded.. Highwater, a client would be disclosed at some point before a contract would be signed with the city. Also, Hamilton's "engineering research base" doesn't do much other than design fugly box store developments to plop all over the city! They aren't writing books about cutting edge architectural design (btw you need an architect before an engineer not the other way around. If engineer's designed structures they'd all be geometric shapes) nor are they presenting anything worthwhile reading. In fact while we have medical engineering research I can't recall if I've ever heard of a civil engineering research base in the city at all or if there even is such a thing. Rarely is an engineer actually the one responsible for designing the building envelope, they're responsible for designing the structure underneath it that holds it up. No architect would get a piece of land to simply create a building...he'd have to present a conceptual design at the very least for approval. At that point, you can decide to continue or not.

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By sbwoodside (registered) - website | Posted September 04, 2010 at 02:26:05

Unfortunately what people don't get is that a one building alone does not solve a city's problems. A city is about people -- where they can work, live, shop, how they can move around, where they want to go, what services are where, and so on. A single building, while iconic and remarkable, doesn't address all of those needs. It only addresses the desire to have a cool building.

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By realfreeenterpriser (registered) | Posted September 05, 2010 at 11:59:26

"Unfortunately what people don't get is that a one building alone does not solve a city's problems. A city is about people -- where they can work, live, shop, how they can move around, where they want to go, what services are where, and so on."

I think a lot of people DO get that. And that is precisely what this debate has been about. While ONE attraction won't "solve the city's problems", a lot of them in close proximity to each other probably will. At the very least, it won't make them worse.

"Downtowns" have traditionally been where attractions are concentrated in order to get the "critical mass" that allows them to exist in the first place. Each aspect of that critical mass, to quote the above, "people, where they can work, live, shop, how they can move around, where they want to go, what services are where" feeds off and promotes the other.

The decentralization of attractions, especially "singular" ones like stadia, stops that synergy in its tracks.

Copps Collisem is frequently used as an example that a stadium won't help the downtown. Does anybody really believe that Hamilton's downtown would be BETTER without Copps? Is it better without anchor stores in Jackson Square? What about thousands of workers in the Stelco Tower?

Certainly Hamilton's history should show us that decentralizing large "attractions" such as Lime Ridge, the Meadowlands etecetera has simply sucked the life out of downtown. The fact that the downtown has degraded almost in lockstep with the "suburban" development of shopping opportunities is no co-incidence.

Taking another attraction and putting it on the East Mountain or in Confederation Park only steepens the slope.

As the Mayor of Indianapolis so wisely put it, "you can't be a suburb of nothing".

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