Sports

HostCo Enacts Contingency Venue Plan for Pan Am Stadium

By RTH Staff
Published December 20, 2010

this blog entry has been updated

The Toronto 2015 Pan Am Host Corporation (HostCo) issued a press release today announcing that they have enacted a contingency plan "to ensure seamless Games' competition venues construction" for soccer. Mississauga, Brampton and Markham have each expressed an interest in providing the Pan Am soccer stadium if Hamilton's stadium negotiations do not produce a confirmed plan by February 1, 2011.

HostCo CEO Ian Troop is quoted saying, "We have worked with the City of Hamilton to be as flexible as possible with timelines" as Hamilton attempts to work out and fund an agreement to build a stadium on the CP Rail Yard at Aberdeen and Longwood that can also accommodate the Hamilton Tiger-Cats CFL football beam once the Games are over.

The Spectator reports that the cost for the City to buy the CP Rail Yard has ballooned to $70-90 million plus environmental remediation and relocation of the current tenants, putting the total unfunded cost of a Pan Am stadium in the range of $150 million.

Both the Federal and Provincial governments have stated that they will not contribute any more money to cover the shortfall. Hamilton is already committing some $45 million from the Future Fund, and the Ticats have offered $8-10 million toward the stadium, to be paid over a decade.

Mayor Bob Bratina called an emergency Council meeting this Wednesday to look at alternatives, suggesting that Confederation Park might be an option. The old Council had previously voted to reject Confederation Park from consideration as a site, but the new council could reverse that decision with a simple majority.

Council had voted repeatedly in support of its preferred stadium site at the West Harbour, but the Ticats rejected that site, stating that they would "never" play there. The CP Rail Yard site was an attempt to resurrect a deal after Council rejected a compromise East Mountain site recommended by facilitator Michael Fenn.

Update: this blog entry originally stated that Council needed a two-thirds majority to overturn a previous decision. However, it seems to be the case that the new Council is not bound by decisions made by the previous Council.

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted December 20, 2010 at 14:36:10

The Ticats gambled and lost alright. Now can we finally put this to bed and start thinking about some REAL city building initiative we can invest in with the future fund money we're saving on this fiasco?

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted December 20, 2010 at 14:48:12

I am afraid I can't agree with you nobrainer. The Ti-Cats will play out the end game of this and walk away with Confederation Park. Hamilton is going to be shafted by Bob Young one way or another.

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By d.knox (registered) | Posted December 20, 2010 at 15:01:41

Does anyone know why McMaster's football stadium isn't an option? It has the right capacity and sufficient parking if Hostco only needs 5000 seats? Since the games takes place in the summer, there should also be enough parking.

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 20, 2010 at 15:21:41

Before council freaks out over the increased costs at CP Lands, they need to remember that a remote location with no city building spinoffs won't receive any future fund money. I'm about to email all of council reminding them of the FF board's position and letting them know that a taxpayer in the city I have no interest in seeing a cent of that spent with no spinoffs. The Cats can pay their own way at a remote site.

West Harbour was the best site for 7 years, and clearly it remains so today.

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted December 20, 2010 at 15:23:12

@d.knox - My understanding is the funding is there to build new stadiums. Using/improving existing fields doesn't fit the mandate (if that's the right word) of HostCo.

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By shocker (anonymous) | Posted December 20, 2010 at 15:24:37

everyone knew confederation park was coming. Bratina said it himself during the election campaign. it will never pass and even if it does, HostCo has stated they will not work with yet another Hamilton location.

the deal is done, folks. Bob Young absolutely lost the huge gamble he took.
Thanks to Bob Young insisting on a soccer venue, we lost the pan am jewel track & field stadium.
Thanks to Bob Young insisting on a highway accessible stadium, we lost west harbour/downtown rejuvination.
Thanks to Bob Young whining that the Aberdeen compromise site is not suburban enough, we lost the pan am games!

Thanks, Bob Young!

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted December 20, 2010 at 15:27:49

Think positive, shocker. We might still get a velodrome!

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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted December 20, 2010 at 15:31:34

d.knox

McMaster is already slated to host some of the soccer games for the Pan Am's. So they have not been excluded.

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By TellMeIItAin'tSo (anonymous) | Posted December 20, 2010 at 15:39:10

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted December 20, 2010 at 15:52:14

TellMeIItAin'tSo, I'd really love to know how this is the fault of RaiseTheHammer, or The Spectator for that matter.

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By jason (registered) | Posted December 20, 2010 at 16:00:35

umm, the WH was voted on several times and confirmed by council for the past 7 years. None of us had the need to 'jump in' until Young hijacked the process.
Now, with no election in sight, council needs to do the right thing and tell Young it's WH or Ivor Wynne, or somewhere else 100% on his dime. If the future fund money is now being used to prop up failing private businesses, where do I line up??

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted December 20, 2010 at 16:02:13

TellMeItAin'tSo said:

"This has been a train wreck ever since you all jumped in the West Harbour bandwagon. And now you blame Bob Young..."

You make it sound like the West Harbour was some ill-conceived notion that was slapped together and all us lemmings simply followed it blindly to disastrous results.

I think your comment seems to ignore the fact that no alternative site has undergone as much study, debate, public discussion, and consideration as the West Harbour has. It is the best site for a stadium according to numerous studies and decisions of council. Supporting these studies and decisions should not be considered "jumping on the bandwagon" as they were subject to significant thought and debate. Our support was not won on some whim.

The ti-cats "alternate sites" of the East Mountain, and now the CP railyards, by contrast, were very much slapped together last minute without proper studies and planning, which is why we're only finding out now that the costs are substantially more than first advertised. Maybe I could say council was too fast to "jump on the CP lands" bandwagon? Or that ti-cat fans were too quick to jump on the "east mountain" bandwagon?

Maybe Bob Young didn't "screw the city", but he sure has painted himself into a corner, because after several years of discussion, negotiation (both behind the scenes and public), planning with his private partners, paying for his own studies, he has nothing to show for it. Yes, Hamilton has wasted the same discussions, staff time, etc. with studies and also has nothing to show for it, but the difference is this: Council doesn't need a football stadium, and Bob Young does.

*****

My own point of view, I don't like that this continues being framed by both sides as a "failure" of the other to compromise, or a failure of negotiation.

Each side in a negotiation has certain minimum requirements. The ti-cats have a business plan, and had minimum requirements of a new stadium in order to make their plan succeed. The city has a plan, and had minimum requirements of the new stadium in order to dedicate city funds towards it. If the ti-cats and the city couldn't come together to decide on a site that's acceptable to both (ie. that meets at least the minimum requirements of both), it's regretable, but that doesn't mean either one "failed", or that one was trying to screw/murder the other. Maybe there are just no sites within Hamilton that would be acceptable to both parties? Whose "fault" would that be?

Should the city have lowered their standards to please the ti-cats? Should the ti-cats have just thrown their business plan out the window and played at the west harbour? I don't think it's required that either of them move any lower than their "minimum requirements". Maybe in this case there just wasn't any mutually acceptable solution.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted December 20, 2010 at 16:06:29

Confederation Park has to be the worst place imaginable for a stadium. The fact that Bratina even brought it up is scary. I've written to council already to express my concern that this is even being considered.

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By mistake (anonymous) | Posted December 20, 2010 at 16:11:27

There is an error in the article. The new Council formed after the election does not need a motion to reconsider the decision of the previous Council. Hence they only need a majority not two-thirds to change the stadium location.

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By Desmond (anonymous) | Posted December 20, 2010 at 16:20:23

How exactly did Bob Young hijack the process? He just doesn't want to put any of his hard earned money towards it at a location he does not feel is viable. That is his right.

Everything after that falls on council.

If you are asking BY to contribute millions of dollars he has the right to say no if he does not like the site.

The same thing applies to council. If they do not like where its going to go we will end up with no stadium. However, if they vote for Confederation Park and Bob Young contributes and they can make the money work with the province and the feds it seems to me like its a done deal.

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted December 20, 2010 at 16:22:23

@mrgrande That is more or less what HostCo eluded to with regards to fixing up IWS, but the problem is they are using money to improve upon Varsity Stadium in Toronto for the games. Tell me how that makes sense.

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By Gowa? (anonymous) | Posted December 20, 2010 at 16:23:15

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted December 20, 2010 at 16:27:13

@Rober D: "Each side in a negotiation has certain minimum requirements. The ti-cats have a business plan, and had minimum requirements of a new stadium in order to make their plan succeed. The city has a plan, and had minimum requirements of the new stadium in order to dedicate city funds towards it. If the ti-cats and the city couldn't come together to decide on a site that's acceptable to both (ie. that meets at least the minimum requirements of both), it's regretable, but that doesn't mean either one "failed", or that one was trying to screw/murder the other. Maybe there are just no sites within Hamilton that would be acceptable to both parties? Whose "fault" would that be?

Should the city have lowered their standards to please the ti-cats? Should the ti-cats have just thrown their business plan out the window and played at the west harbour? I don't think it's required that either of them move any lower than their "minimum requirements". Maybe in this case there just wasn't any mutually acceptable solution."

Best Stadium comment I have seen in months. Very well said!

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted December 20, 2010 at 16:30:59

@Gowa. This is not a Spec news story. The Spec isn't even carrying this news and I just checked before posting this.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted December 20, 2010 at 16:37:40

Lawrence and Gowa,

Even if the Spec did run the story, I, for one, would still be interested in reading about it here and discussing with others via the comments.

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By SayItAin'tSo (anonymous) | Posted December 20, 2010 at 17:07:00

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By vod_kann (registered) | Posted December 20, 2010 at 17:21:28

"the deal is done, folks. Bob Young absolutely lost the huge gamble he took. "

I'm not sure about that- listen to the interview with Scott Mitchell attached. he sounds like a pretty happy guy for someone who had his hopes of a new play palace dashed.

http://www.900chml.com/Station/BillKelly...

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By Jonathan Dalton (registered) | Posted December 20, 2010 at 17:57:25

Sounds like Bratina is now going for whatever site we can afford.

I predict with Confederation Park back in the spotlight, the Cats will finally make an offer of some substance towards that site, and that will swing Council support toward it. The funding gap that remains might be solved through creative accounting by the finance department, and it might get built.

It's still not an appropriate use of the Future Fund.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted December 20, 2010 at 18:00:21

"Sounds like Bratina is now going for whatever site we can afford", which is a horrible idea. Just because something is "affordable" now, does not make it a good idea. That sort of attitude shows no leadership, foresight, or vision. And, I say this as a penny pinching fiscal conservative.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted December 20, 2010 at 18:02:48

"It's still not an appropriate use of the Future Fund". Or an appropriate use of Parkland on the Lake Front.

If this idea of Confederation Park gets any footing, I'll be looking for support in setting up an organized protest to it.

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By mystoneycreek (registered) - website | Posted December 20, 2010 at 18:04:31

Said almost three months ago:

"But the truth is that we need to consider the possibility of having to say 'I'm sorry, but we are unable to come up with a way to make this work for the city and the people of Hamilton. Therefore, we're backing away from our 2015 Pan Am Games commitment.'"

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By TomRobertson (registered) | Posted December 20, 2010 at 18:15:12

I just listened to Bill Kelly and Scott Mitchel. It is interesting that Kelly opened his comments by accusing CP of profiteering on the stadium but did not say the same about Bob Young. Once again Mr. Kelly is proving that he has been nothing else but Young's stooge since the stadium debate began.

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By z jones (registered) | Posted December 20, 2010 at 18:31:17

Fred Eisenberger, Bob Young, RTH, The Spectator, Bob Bratina, Council.

On behalf of all the RTHers I'm flattered you seem to think we're that influential.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted December 21, 2010 at 00:30:42

The thing with correlations is that they can mean many things - causation, co-causation, coincidence, etc. Or, to put it in more blunt terms: just because we called it doesn't mean we caused it.

I'm not saying that this is ALL Bob Young's fault. But I do think it's about time his term in charge of our football team came to an end.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted December 21, 2010 at 06:15:48

It is interesting that Kelly opened his comments by accusing CP of profiteering on the stadium

The City is getting screwed over and over again because we are so obviously desperate to secure a deal at any cost. That stink of desperation puts us in a terrible bargaining position.

Consider CP's position. They're not the ones trying to sell the land, they have paying tenants and the facility itself is in active use. I'm sure their thinking, and I have a hard time finding fault with it, is: If you want this land badly enough, you're going to have to make us an offer we can't refuse.

Of course, the only reason we're at the CP Lands at all - and in a weak bargaining position, to boot - is that Council folded like a TV table when the Ticats threatened to pick up their toys and leave.

Council should have told - and indeed, still should tell - the Ticats: We went through a long, detailed process and selected the site that best meets our city-building objectives. If you want a new stadium in Hamilton, you'll find a way to make this site work.

That is, our Council needed to be prepared to walk away from a bad deal. That they weren't prepared to do this is why we look like idiots today.

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By Space Ho (anonymous) | Posted December 22, 2010 at 16:12:52

Spacedonkey said: Even if the Spec did run the story, I, for one, would still be interested in reading about it here and discussing with others via the comments.

That is the saddest way to communicate. Get out of the basement, nerd boy. Pick up a phone or go out and meet people.

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