Sports

Whitehead: Scalable West Harbour Stadium 'Excellent Idea'

By RTH Staff
Published January 04, 2011

In response to an RTH email to Council asking about a scalable West Harbour stadium, Terry Whitehead, Councillor for Ward 8, called it "an excellent idea".

He observed that Ivor Wynne Stadium will become a "white elephant" if the Tiger-Cats leave Hamilton, and suggested taking down Ivor Wynne and putting the saved operating costs toward a community stadium in the West Harbour.

He also noted the "great synergy" of remediating the Barton-Tiffany brownfield with a community-sized stadium that could "be the start of something great" in the West Harbour.

Toronto 2015 CEO Ian Troop clarified yesterday in a Raise the Hammer interview that the February 1 stadium deadline is final and that the Pan Am host corporation will consider a 5500-6500 seat stadium in the West Harbour that can later be scaled to include a professional tenant.

Specifically, Mr. Troop stated that a stadium with 15,000-25,000 seats requires a permanent legacy tenant to be financially viable but a 6,000 seat stadium has modest enough operating costs that a legacy of community use is viable and affordable.

He also explicitly pointed out that money freed up by building a smaller stadium could be used to upgrade the Pan Am Velodrome to be "a tremendous high-performance sports legacy" for Hamilton.

According to a CHML report, Bratina said that if Hamilton cannot agree on a CFL-grade stadium for the Ticats, there is no point in building a smaller community stadium with Pan Am funding.

This afternoon, Mayor Bob Bratina responded to RTH to say that Council is aware of the information Mr. Troop presented in his interview and that it "is not relevant to our deliberations."

Here is Councillor Whitehead's email in full:

I think it is an excellent idea. I talked to Mr. Troop and soon came to realize if the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are not interested in playing in Hamilton, then Ivor Wynne becomes a white elephant. Take it down, offset cost for a community stadium in the West Harbour.

It would have great synergy, clean up a brownfield and be the start of something great in West Harbour precinct.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 04, 2011 at 21:02:47

Terry makes a great point in his email. If the Cats leave town, we're left holding the bag on Ivor Wynne and looking to replace it on our own dime. We can't make that mistake. We need to take the 6,000 seater with ability for future expansion if a CFL or MLS team arrives, and then redevelop the Ivor Wynne lands to give that part of town a boost of retail, quality housing, green space and neighbourhood amenities.

To say no to HOSTCO would be unbelievable. Then, if the Cats still leave town in 2 years council is left holding a lame-duck white elephant with NO suitable replacement for local sporting events, concerts and soccer events. Not to mention, we miss out on an opportunity to leverage WH clean-up and participate in Pan Am soccer.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted January 04, 2011 at 21:16:45

Great news, hopefully Terry's thinking takes hold in the rest of the councilors before Jan. 12. I agree that we need to look into the future and decide what to do with IWS post Ti-Cats. Maybe with the money saved on a scalable stadium we can help re-develop the old IWS stadium site, a two for one opportunity.

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By rayfullerton (registered) | Posted January 04, 2011 at 21:22:11

Terry Whitehead: Present your "excellent idea" to Council on Wednesday, January 12 so that the Pan Am Stadium file can be finally closed!

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By NortheastWind (registered) | Posted January 04, 2011 at 22:14:58

I hope the people here who are advocating a scalable stadium can speak up at the next Council meeting. Let your voice be heard!

Comment edited by NortheastWind on 2011-01-04 22:15:07

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By realfreeenterpriser (registered) | Posted January 04, 2011 at 22:34:16

Okay Mr. Whitehead; up to now you've got a reputation as a flip-flopper constantly wetting your finger to test the political winds. It's your indecision along with others like Tom Jackson that has been the Tiger-Cats' greatest weapon in this debacle.

But now, you have a chance to redeem yourself and show everyone what leadership and resolve are all about.

Get your ducks in line! Put the Confederation Park issue to bed once and for all and then, immediately, move to locate a scalable stadium at the West Harbour and secure the Pan-Am games for our city. Send a clear message to the Tiger-Cats: our City is bigger than they are and we're boldly moving ahead on our own course.

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By JM (registered) | Posted January 04, 2011 at 22:46:55

Don't forget the velodrome to go with it!!

JM

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted January 04, 2011 at 23:03:31

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted January 04, 2011 at 23:49:02

Go Whitehead, Go!

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By George (registered) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 01:14:20

With her permission here is part of an email response from Councilor Partridge:

Confederation: Council also heard that there was not enough time to properly evaluate Confederation Park by January 14th - with Christmas holidays, many consultants and ministry staff needed were away until Jan. 5th. There are significant issues that staff were already aware of and would not have adequate time to review. The deadline of Feb. 1 for Hostco also requires a final detailed cost analysis and budget to be submitted for the site selected. We also heard there would be no extension. The Confed evaluation would have to include analysis from federal Ministry of Fisheries, conservation authorities, provincial ministries and include significant set-backs due to the lake front location.

Opportunity: The responsible thing to do was spend the next few weeks toward Feb. 1 deadline working with our partners, including the TiCats on what would be acceptable short-term and long-term that would include private sector partners. The West Harbour stadium site is still the council approved site on the table. And it may make more sense to go with a smaller stadium as you suggest with a velodrome.

Hamilton is still a participant in the Pan Am games and will receive infrastructure dollars to host soccer, cycling, swim competitions and others. I believe strongly that we will find a solution and the Ti-Cats will remain Hamilton Tiger Cats.

It may appear on the surface that the stadium would work at Confederation Park - the reality when real facts are presented is much clearer that it would not. We cannot do assessments on the fly, making last second decisions of this magnitude.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 04:13:57

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By Lester (anonymous) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 09:36:23

Agreed with most of above and with Terry Whitehead and Judi Partridge, the scalable stadium is the answer, not some counterproductive uninclusive monstrousity on our lake front park land. Call you councillors and tell them we have the WH site, a workable scalable stadium design, and the research behind it all such that Ian Troop can be told that we are ready to proceed. Let's bury this whole idea of Confederation Park as a stadium location once and for all and move forward.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 09:36:59

hamilton fan, check your numbers. Ticat games on TSN are huge. The CFL will feel it BIG TIME if the Cats leave. If they're willing to turn down a beautiful new stadium at the harbour, more power to them.
Maybe they can join Lorne Lieberman and the parking lot fans out of town and team up with a 20,000 car parking lot and zero atmosphere for the festival of friends and Cats. A match made in heaven.

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By mrgrande (registered) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 09:40:08

The Just-Outside-of-Ancaster Tiger Cats?

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 09:53:41

I wonder if Bratina and others have considered the following. What if Council votes to investigate Confederation Park and the report comes back late in January saying that Confed Park is an unsuitable location? What would they do then?

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted January 05, 2011 at 10:04:30

Festival leaving Gage Park. Time for a new organizer, and to scale the Festival down a bit if it has outgrown it's long-time home. How many visitors, like the Cats at IWS, are from walk-up crowds - like me? Gage Park is a great Festival atmosphere. Why don't we offer shuttles from Boston Pizza at Centre Mall, Limeridge, and Eastgate like we do for Cats games - and free with a printed voucher from the Festival website or something if parking is such a big issue?

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 10:09:03

no need to scale it down. I don't see Toronto scaling down the now massive Taste of Danforth or Beaches Jazz. They have owners who actually understand what they mean to the community and the long-standing tradition of the events. anyone who's ever watched Crungale and Lieberman on Cable 14 will know that they don't understand urban life at all, and have zero regard for Hamilton's history. This is what happens when a great event lands bad ownership. I wish them well with their paid parking and massive beer tent.

Let's get some local musicians and stallholders to set up shop in Gage Park the same weekend as we've been doing the past 35 years and get back to our roots - a community festival. I'd love to see attendance numbers of the Danforth and Beaches Jazz fest from the 80's and compare them to today, as the FoF owner did in the Spec.

If I'm packing my kids up and driving to a summer festival somewhere it'll be one of those great urban festival in TO, not an agriculture fairground in the middle of nowhere.

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By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 10:21:56

I hope the FoF stays around, we enjoy going to it. But I also have enjoyed the Norfolk County Fair that is on agricultural grounds and in the "middle of nowhere". Rural festivals are wonderful I have found.

Comment edited by HamiltonFan on 2011-01-05 10:22:13

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 10:26:56

absolutely rural festivals are great. FoF is not a rural festival. LOL.
I know I won't be going back...they'd better hope that a lot of Ancaster folks are willing to wait in big traffic tie-ups and pay money to park to check it out.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 10:30:36

Before Lorne Lieberman the FoF only featured Canadian artists. I've seen some of the greatest Canadian music in my life at Gage Park, it was one of the main reasons I decided to stay in Hamilton. LL got the idea to bring Vince Neil and other American cheese to increase crowds, and that is exactly what has happened. I work weekends and I used to take my vacation around the FoF schedule, now I don't even go. The festival has been driven into the ground and drifted far from it's old mandate established during the Bill Powell years. I predict a contraction when it moves, a subsequent changing of the guard and a return to Gage Park in under 5 years.

Whoever thought up an alternative festival running the same weekend... sign me up, I'll help out.

Comment edited by mrjanitor on 2011-01-05 10:32:15

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By rayfullerton (registered) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 10:32:45

Confederation Park is unsuitable for many reasons such as: proximity to Lake Ontario, proximity to QEW, proximity to residential, traffic logistics, geotechnical ......

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By Boomer (registered) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 11:58:13

Scott Mitchell says Aldershot is the Hamilton area's last chance for a professional stadium. What he should have said is that it's the Bob Young-owned Tiger-Cats' last chance. I'd like to see the crystal ball that Mitchell uses to show that he and Young determine Hamilton's future afte they're gone. I think the best thing Bob Young could do is fire Scott Mitchell. He has been a complete failure in handling this issue (especially how he's handled himself) for his boss. If I were the boss, I'd reflect on what has transpired, not look a gift-horse in the mouth, fire Mitchell and take over all negs personally to save face. One can dream, eh?

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted January 05, 2011 at 12:00:13

@MrJanitor, I agree wholeheartedly. A different managing body runs It's our Festival I assume? Time to show more support for that, and remove our support of FoF. Like you said, a drastic numbers drop will no doubt force a change of the guard and a move back to Gage Park.

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By MountainCreature (registered) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 12:03:38

My councillor... I'm so proud... Actually I didn't vote for him, but he's making a lot of sense here.

I don't think it's news that Hamiltonians support, and always have supported, the West Harbour location. The opportunity to combine our participation in Pan-Am with the chance to clean up the hazardous brownfield at Hess was enough to bring unprecedented interest and support for West Harbour to the council meeting that was supposed to decide the matter back in August.

Even Bob Young loved the comprehensive plan for a West Harbour location at one point. By this point, it should be clear to council that his priorities should take a back seat to those of the citizens of Hamilton.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted January 05, 2011 at 12:22:43

This fits perfectly with what we know about Whitehead - he's terrified to commit to an idea, and so an expandable stadium will obviously get his attention.

Bratina would like this too, but he doesn't think the Cats will go for it even when they're out of other options, and he doesn't want to be the mayor that lost the Cats.

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By jason (registered) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 12:50:46

he doesn't want to be the mayor that lost the Cats.

I can understand why. Nobody would want that. But he may have no choice. The Cats won't play in Hamilton. What can Bob do about that? Build the 6,000 seater and hope that down the road we can get MLS and CFL back into town and expand the stadium. In the meantime, it will serve the community with soccer games, Pan Am events, concerts in a nice new facility and allow us to tear down Ivor Wynne and redevelop the site.

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By JMorse (registered) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 13:30:20

Bratina, here's a risk with a huge payoff: Stand up and call their bluff. Your legacy could be "The mayor who kept the Cats on the city's terms". It's a pretty likely outcome. Go for it!

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By synxer (registered) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 14:15:42

This situation is a low down shame. It seems like Bratina isn't going to be leaning on his progressive, best-case, non-emotional badge that I watched him wearing at the Hess Village West Harbour speech. I deduced that when he said "The stadium will be at West Harbour!" that he was the same kind of progressive that Fred Eisenberger was. Unfortunately, it seems he'll be leaning on his "Rob Ford", afraid of change, cut-to-the-chase side.

It's too bad that our elected officials didn't make it a little easier for Creative Arts, Inc., either. Perhaps called them up and asked if they'd want to get in on a great waterfront festival, tied in with that amphitheater that they obviously need. White Star could have ran with that ball for miles. And damn, wouldn't it have been great to merge Aquafest and Festival of Friends together for, perhaps, the largest waterfront festival in Canada? No. We can't have that.

I'm not really sure we have a real democracy - or at least, not one designed for good-doers.

If I were mayor in Hamilton, making progressive change and taking in due diligence and best-case scenarios, I'd be busy. After all, success doesn't come easy. I wouldn't be able to afford to constantly advertise these accomplishments because doing so would be a giant waste of my time. Especially at election time, when not only am I handling a city as my full-time and after hours job, I am batting away at unintelligible, emotionally-charged banter from every single candidate. On the radio, newspaper, email and web.

Wondering why our crap incumbents always manage to stick around? Every mayoral candidate I can think off had given me some form of information, mostly emotional. Except Mayor Fred. I called him for a sign despite having voted for him before and being on his list.

I didn't hear from Fred that much and I see a successful tenure as mayor. In his final days he was fighting for the stadium at West Harbour. Bratina on the other hand, I hear him a lot. In his first few months, he might completely blow it for all of us. Over what seems to be egotistically-driven. And the people he passionately fires up are always right behind him.

How can we win?

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By nobrainer (registered) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 14:24:34

How can we win?

There's fifteen councilors on council as well as the Mayor, we can win with an end-run.

Comment edited by nobrainer on 2011-01-05 14:24:44

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By LameDuckMayor (anonymous) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 14:39:03

Thankfully, the Mayor's position is distinguished from the rest of council only by a little bit of procedure and prestige. Any councillor can put forth a motion and the Mayor's vote isn't needed to pass it. Bratina may show up on CHML frequently to air his public pontifications, but so far in his short term he hasn't really spoken for Council as a whole, or for his constituents. It's been pure Bob all the way.

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By mrjanitor (registered) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 14:39:06

How can we win?

The mayor is just one vote! If a councilor forwards a motion to proceed with the West Harbour and it passes there is nothing Bratina can do about it other than hang his head in shame. I also believe there is some bad blood between Bratina and many of the councilors, I wouldn't be surprised if a WH motion gets forwarded.

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By cityfan (registered) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 15:23:25

West Harbour Pan AM Center for sport excellence. I can't wait!

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 15:39:05

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 15:41:12

"we" don't need a Stadium for the TiCats, the owner of the team does.

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By Andrea (registered) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 15:48:44

and, if I may..."we" don't own a stadium at McMaster. It's privately owned. The City could benefit from a facility built for community use.

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 16:12:36

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By Andrea (registered) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 16:16:57

Ivor Wynne is currently used for many, many smaller events which would easiy transition into a 6,000 seat stadium. Community soccer, cultural events, etc.

We live in a City of over a half a million people.

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By SpaceMonkey (registered) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 16:20:08

I just checked out the Whitestar group's webpage for the first time. Wow! It looks amazing. Have others seen this? I can't imagine anyone thinking WH is a bad idea after seeing what they've proposed. Here is a link to the video virtual tour of the plan. Here is a virtual video tour of the velodrome. Come on council.. make it happen.

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By synxer (registered) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 17:17:29

@mrjanitor, @LameDuckMayor - the process works just as "good" for the incumbent councilors as well. A bunch of emotionally-charged arrows pointing in every direction. Amazing no one, doing nothing but making us all feel like we're participating but actually getting no where.

Mix in apathy and a factless debate on the radio, and you've got yourself a seat at City Hall.

It would be great if our electoral system had a built-in fact-checking system that was accessible to every one and any one. The future is bright in this aspect.

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By TomRobertson (registered) | Posted January 05, 2011 at 22:04:06

FoF is not leaving the city just to a new location. To me the festival has become quite stale anyway, spending big bucks to bring in oldie goldie acts from the USA when top notch Canadian performers could be brought in for the same money. It has the same old group of migrant vendors each year, most from out of the city as well as the same food vendors. I am looking forward to what the Pearl Co. will be proposing and hope it will be featuring Local and Canadian performers and artists.

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By Enraged (anonymous) | Posted January 06, 2011 at 18:42:52

How about Indifest?

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