Comment 54768

By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted January 06, 2011 at 12:12:24

Business wise, the Cats say they have to look at fans from outside of Hamilton to make a profit, yet the fans that can't necessarily afford to attend every game are very passionate, loyal fans who if nothing else, by word of mouth, promote this team and it's worth to our city and the country without a second thought to plugging what is essentially, a private business. By being ‘okay’ with losing some of these fans to attract the ‘money fans’, you risk losing our ambassadors. Is their worth actually far greater than their dollar?

I have said this before and I wish I knew where to start to look into something like this, but wouldn't it seem that Hamilton is the perfect candidate as a city whose team should be owned by the people? Whose mandate is simply to break even, to afford the luxury of being home to a professional sports team.?

If the fans and city could force a sale of the Tiger-Cats, turning them over to 'us', they become our team and our legacy. It means stadium wise, there is no money coming from the 'Cats' brass because we are the brass, however with $70M from the feds to upgrade Ivor Wynne which would then have a Legacy tenant because our group agrees to play there, and that $70M can go to what we need now to make the stadium safe. Create some parking at Brian Timmis to help with our overhead, and put the rest aside for startup and operating costs. We could possibly make a go of this.

If the powers that be would rather that $45M future fund money not go to the stadium/team project, that’s understandable. Perhaps it goes to the removal of contaminated sites and ground ready preparations for future development. Perhaps they would agree to a portion of that FF money going to the city owned team to help with startup costs?

Do we want to see what someone above mentioned with regards to MLSE and the loyal fan not being able to afford to attend games, changing the entire dynamic of the type of team Hamilton has fielded for perhaps most of their 141 year history, and the type of fans that product has attracted?

Do we fill more seats and gain much more support with merchandising and what not, because the fans are actually supporting their own product? Their team that they own? Knowing that if there is profit, it is coming back to us. If there is a loss, it's our loss so we are that much more motivated to make it work financially. I am going to buy a Tiger-Cat jersey before I buy a New England Patriots one because the Cats are not just my team at heart, they ARE my team. Profit from ticket and merchandising sales, is actually in a roundabout way, coming back to me.

I can't begin to imagine what all of this entails, as we have a hard enough time managing the Hecfi buildings, but the fact that owners have a hard time making a go of it in Hamilton, does that mean that we should really be looking at ownership from a whole different perspective?

I have grown to dislike professional sports on many levels over the years (NHL included), but I would like to 'like' and respect them again. Moving the Cats out of town and creating even a remotely similar MLSE experience with our Tiger-Cats, is something I cannot stomach. The demographics would change even with a Harbourfront stadium, but it's a dynamic that would change as Hamilton evolves. It's still in Hamilton meaning attracting outside fans still involves people coming to Hamilton. If they are willing to come here, they are willing to be a part of our experience. In Aldershot or any other city removed from Hamilton, those fans no longer are required to be a part of the Hamilton experience and therefore, the whole experience changes and becomes so far removed from what we have been accustomed to for generations. Change is one thing, but what move here by the Cats, will completely change what football played in Hamilton has represented?

If there is no appetite for a locally owned Tiger-Cat team, than I vote for a 6,000 seat stadium so Hamilton still does see some benefit from this process and this substantial amount of government funding.

I will beg of Mr. Young first however, to forgo ownership if he plans to move them out of Hamilton, and perhaps be involved in helping us give it a go if he really still has a soft spot for his hometown and hometown team. To realize that the economics for what he envisions in Hamilton, is just not something the City has an appetite for. It is nothing against him. We understand what he is trying to do. It is a business after all, but if he can step away from this process with no hard feelings and an appreciation for what Hamilton sees for the future of their (our) city, than perhaps he would willing to help us try a completely different kind of ownership. If it local ownership does not work, at least we will know that we have tried all types of ownership and that a CFL franchise in Hamilton, perhaps just doesn’t work.

I believe it can work though. Whether through different corporate ownership, or a locally owned and prided CFL team.

If a 6,000 seat facility is going to be built at the end of all of this though, I would like to see that stadium at 75 Balsam. In the central most point of our city. More easily accessible to transit and High Schools that utilize it - namely Delta. The return of Civic Stadium. It doesn't have to be fancy. Look at Brian Timmis. It is a 5,000 seat facility. The rest of the funds can still be used to clean up the harbor. Sports would then live on along Balsam Avenue North, the Harbor get's cleaned up, and if the Cats aren't interested in a full-scale stadium in the harbor or even a refurbished Ivor Wynne, no sense building in the Harbor or upgrading Ivor Wynne.

In closing, I would like you to go park your car around Ivor Wynne and have a walk around it. Walk down Barton and see the old stadium tower above the rooftops. Do this before the 12th. I want you to see why I don't think it should actually come down, but if all of this comes to a 6,000 seat stadium and no Cats, than what I discussed above, is what I propose.

I love the Cats, but Hamilton deserves that money. Council has been blamed up and down, sideways and backwards, but I don't blame them one bit. This has been no easy task. I don’t even blame the Cats organization. It’s business. I realize that.

All I ask as this hopefully all finally comes to a close, is look outside your community. This has all been about West Harbor from the get go. Understandably so. I know it needs major cleanup and now you have boarded up houses through this mess, and that the Harbor has been the approved and desired site for so long. I do get that, but 75 Balsam will need to be cleaned up too. I know they are looking at a seniors residence there, but is that the legacy that should be left behind from 80 years of sports history on that land? I know it is something that as a community we need to decide, and I am open to all discussions on this issue, but I just dream of something more. Shouldn't a senior’s home be close to something? Is Stadium Mall it?

What I fear is that the minute a site is approved or the Cats say they will not continue past 2011 at Ivor Wynne if we lose the Pan Am games, is that the 75 Balsam lands will be immediately sold, and we will have no control as to what moves in its place. Everyone is talking about what the future of that site is, but if it doesn’t get the exposure, its fate is going to be sealed without our input. 75 Balsam is a big part of our history. We need to talk about it.

I have been trying to be open-minded and to embrace the West Harbor vision, even though my vision was to see a renewed Ivor Wynne. I get the Harbor plan on so many levels - I really do, but do others get why I also want something special for my community? The one where big box took over for a historic mall that was allowed to almost crumble into the earth on its own? A community that is now going to see one of the largest festivals in Canada leave, taking with it tones of exposure to our community from Ottawa Street to other local eateries and shops?

I know this may sound greedy as on top of 250,000 people attending Cats games a season, hundreds of thousands converge in our neck of the woods to attend the Gage Park festivals - and there are more than just the Festival of Friends and It's your Festival. I believe in sharing the wealth, but we are losing a lot. I haven't heard much more about the Pearl Company, but if it is still scheduled to close, what are we left with? Downtown has Copps, the Convention Centre, the Art Gallery, the James St N Art Crawl, Bayfront Park, etc. Gage Park, it's Festivals, Ottawa St and Ivor Wynne, were our major assets. Can Ottawa Street continue to thrive with the loss of so much traffic driven to our Ward? I hope so, but I wish we didn’t have to lose all of this, to find out.

As I said in an earlier piece, what one ward stands to gain, another stands to lose. I realize this is all one big city, but the wellbeing of two significant areas/Wards in Hamilton, is hanging in the balance on that January 12th or February 1st decision. Both communities need some major attention but I believe our two wards need to stand united. Our City Our Future, needs to be about both communities. We can only get stronger, by coming together as one.

The Stadium is about all of Hamilton, but the impact will greatly affect two significant areas of it. A much healthier Ward 2 and Ward 3, I believe can turn this city around.

How can both wards benefit greatly from all of this at the end of the day? That is all I want.

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