Remarks by Kathy Drewitt, Executive Director, Downtown Hamilton BIA at media conference at West Harbour Site for Pan Am Stadium, Friday, July 16, 2010
On behalf of the Board of Management of the Downtown Hamilton Business Improvement Area and our 600 member businesses and property owners, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for being here and for the media for taking the time to cover this important function as it pertains to the future of our City.
After council's decision last week to add another site on the East Mountain to the options for the Pan Am Stadium my phone has been ringing non-stop. My email box is full and I have been listening to many people, business person and resident alike (and not just from Downtown). Most if not all are very supportive of the West Harbour location to build the stadium as a way to revitalize downtown and connect it to the Waterfront.
The arguments for the waterfront site are all about the vision for the city - of building the stadium at a location that will enhance the city's image, and what more beautiful than overlooking our harbour.
It is about cleaning up a brownfield area with money from other levels of government. It is about providing an enhanced multi-use development as part of the footprint of the area and connect the harbour with Downtown.
This West Harbour plan will have visibility from Hwy. 403 just over there, and more than enough parking with the 600 spots on site, another 600-800 in a lot recently taken off the City's Sale list to be held back for parking for the site, and not to mention the 1200-1500 parking spots just on the other side of these rail lines at Bayfront Park. Not to mention the rest of the parking in the Downtown core area that is within an easy walking distance to here.
It is about easy accessibility with public transit, with GO Transit confirming a station within two blocks at LIUNA Station, and Metrolinx solidifying plans for a north-south route called the A-Line for LRT that will connect the Harbour to the Airport, and the B-Line which will connect Eastgate area with the McMaster University area - and it, too, will be within minutes of the proposed west harbour stadium location.
The BIA has been involved in this deliberation for several years and has looked at cities who have built stadiums in recent years. Many have located or relocated their sports facilities in close proximity to their Downtowns. They include:
And we all witnessed events at the recent Olympics in BC Place in Downtown Vancouver.
Some of the reasons why these cities are relocating their stadiums Downtown include a drop in attendance at events in suburban sports complexes, traffic jams due to limited road and public transit access, and loss of tax revenues from prime employment lands when suburban property is given up for public use.
We hope that Hamilton City Council does not make that costly mistake that others now are spending millions to rectify in their communities. We need to build the stadium on this site at the West Harbour.
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