By Ryan McGreal
Published January 11, 2011
this blog entry has been updated
The stink of desperation hangs heavy over the Pan Am fiasco as the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and their supporters scramble to salvage a stadium deal after their extortion play backfired. As Wednesday's Council meeting fast approaches, we lurch from wishful-thinking rumours to outrageous pleas for "regional" solutions.
Now CHML reports that Mayor Bob Bratina and Ticats owner Bob Young are holding a joint news conference at Ivor Wynne Stadium to "announce a potential solution to their standoff".
Without knowing precisely that they have cooked up, we do know the following:
The Toronto 2015 deadline to have a site finalized - including land acquisition, financing and approvals - is February 1. Any harebraned scheme to move the damned stadium to Speedway Park or whatever is just more ineffectual arm-flailing.
Notwithstanding the deadline, a number of players still seem to think there's time to throw some other site together. For Hamilton - the city and the "region" alike - the only remaining choices are West Harbour or nowhere. Then again, maybe they know something Toronto 2015 CEO Ian Troop doesn't.
Burlington Mayor Rick Goldring has figured out that the Ticats' claim that an Aldershot stadium won't cost that municipality anything just doesn't add up. (Maybe he got around to looking at the cost of a highway access to the Paletta property.)
Several members of Hamilton Council - Mayor Bratina among them - still seem willing to find some deal, any deal, that makes the Ticats happy, even if that means tossing Hamilton's community-building objectives overboard.
So I'll close with my prediction: Bratina and Young's joint announcement today will put me in a crabby mood.
Update: Mark Masters of the National Post just reported:
The deal calls for a new stadium to be built where Ivor Wynne Stadium currently is located.
The goal of the agreement is to turn the Ivor Wynne district into a top sports and recreation area for the city.
Masters will host a live chat with Mayor Bratina following the news conference at noon today.
Update 2: the Spectator has obtained a copy of Mayor Bratina's early-morning email to council:
I believe we may finally have satisfactory resolution to the stadium issue. The Tiger Cats are prepared to sign a lengthy lease with the City to continue to play in a rebuilt stadium on the Ivor Wynne site. The old stadium was originally rejected because of the requirement for about twenty acres to include an adjacent warm-up track as required by Hostco. This configuration was not possible on the available land. When the difficulties over site selection continued to the point where the deadline was looming the Tiger Cat management put all options on the table. In our discussion yesterday afternoon I urged them to give serious consideration to rehabilitation of the old stadium, and a long-term agreement with the City as a show of faith to residents and fans. There was no hesitation by both Bob Young and Scott Mitchell in agreeing to a 20 year lease arrangement, pending details of course.
We are prepared now to present this to the public and media, and bring it forward for Council consideration at the Jan 12 meeting.
I would have preferred to speak to each of you personally but thought it best to get this information to you as quickly as possible.
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