Sports

City Staff to Recommend CP Rail Yard for Pan Am Stadium

By RTH Staff
Published September 13, 2010

After considering a number of sites in the Aberdeen Ave. and Longwood Rd area of southwest Hamilton, City Staff are recommending (PDF link) that the CP Rail Yard at Aberdeen and Longwood be presented to HostCo as Hamilton's Pan Am Stadium site location.

The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have agreed to the site, on the condition that the Federal and Provincial Governments "provide sufficient additional funding" to upgrade the stadium from 15,000 seats to 25,000 seats. Staff are also asking Council to approve negotiations to purchase the necessary lands from their current owners.

After two weeks of intense negotiations with the Ticats, HostCo, Infrastructure Ontario, McMaster University and McMaster Innovation Park (MIP), the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada and property owners in the area, Staff decided to recommend the Rail Yard because it does not threaten the "integrity" of the MIP. Staff suggest that while the Rail Yard is actually larger than necessary for a stadium, the excess land could become part of an expanded MIP.

Staff have not yet had time to negotiate through the financial impacts of this site recommendation and note that "it is too early to determine whether the City will be called upon to make a larger financial commitment than that at present." However, the staff report does note, "It appears that the current funding gap is significant."

In effect, Staff are asking Council to approve a new site that will have an unknown but likely significant impact on the city's finances. The City has already committed $45 million of its $60 million Future Fund toward a Pan Am Stadium, with the balance going to the $5 million planned Velodrome and land acquisition.

The Future Fund Board of Governors approved a stadium expenditure at the City's originally-preferred West Harbour site, and explicitly rejected spending the money at an alternate East Mountain site that was proposed earlier in the summer after the Ticats refused to commit to the West Harbour. The Board has not yet met to consider the Aberdeen and Longwood site.

West Hamilton Innovation District Study Site Areas
West Hamilton Innovation District Study Site Areas

Site Sizes
Site Area (acres)
A 15.43
B 21.22
C 14.63
D 17.55
E (Rail Yard) 51.29
F 1.29
G 4.67

26 Comments

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By RenaissanceWatcher (registered) | Posted September 13, 2010 at 20:40:38

Here are some preliminary points to consider in relation to the proposed Pan Am/Tiger-Cat Stadium on the CP Rail Lands:

Pros -western entranceway into Hamilton is more attractive than eastern entranceway; -readily accessible from Highway 403 and Highway 6; -CP lands are not part of the 20 year McMaster Innovation Park Master Plan; -although stadium location is not downtown, it is closer to downtown than east mountain site; -Tiger-Cats get everything they have demanded (i.e. highway access, large parking lot, no west harbour stadium, operating agreement re new stadium) and will therefore stay in Hamilton; - if stadium and parking lots are built on west half of CP lands, less impact on MIP, residential neighbourhoods and Chedoke Golf Course.

Cons -expensive acquisition cost of 51 acres of the CP land; -expensive CP rail yard relocation cost; -uncertainty of where to relocate CP rail yard; -stadium on CP lands may stunt potential growth of MIP during years twenty through fifty; -stadium location too far from downtown to directly benefit the downtown thus not does not meet all of the Future Fund objectives; -money spent on CP lands and stadium will leave little or no money to develop west harbour brownfield site; -Pan Am venues will be scattered (indoor volleyball at Copps Coliseum, velodrome at west harbour or at Olympic Park in Dundas, soccer at CP Rail Lands stadium site) -still only a 15,000 seat stadium; -no indication yet of any direct private investment from Bob Young or Osmington Inc. to increase stadium size; -city looking to federal and provincial governments to share $50 Million cost of increasing stadium size to approximately 25,000 seats; -report makes no mention of any city negotiations with Canadian Soccer Association to become a Pan Am legacy tenant.

Comment edited by RenaissanceWatcher on 2010-09-13 19:46:27

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By brian (registered) | Posted September 13, 2010 at 21:35:20

"The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have agreed to the site, on the condition that the Federal and Provincial Governments "provide sufficient additional funding" to upgrade the stadium from 15,000 seats to 25,000 seats"

So the Ticats want the government to approve that kind of request this late in the game?. So want if they dont want to hand over another 50 million..than what.

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By UrbanRenaissance (registered) | Posted September 13, 2010 at 22:31:18

To me this latest development raises some important questions:

  1. What happens to the excess WH land the city already bought, and will the toxic Rheem site get remediated? (Perhaps this will be added to the cost of the velodome, but more likely it will remain a toxic nightmare since no private developer can afford to fix it.)

  2. Access to that parcel of land seems to be bottlenecked at Longwood/Aberdeen, how exactly does that make for a good "driveway-to-driveway" experience? Won't this bottleneck be a nightmare for drivers? (Unless we're going to spend more money upgrading roads and/or highway ramps.)

  3. Do we know if CP is even willing to sell the land? They don't have a lot of options to move their trains. With new GO Service out of Liuna Station the tracks in the north end are about to get real crowded.

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By jonathan dalton (registered) | Posted September 14, 2010 at 00:07:45

Those are all good questions that won't be answered at tomorrow's meeting. Council is voting on something with a lot of uncertainty. It took a month of study for questions like these to be answered about the east mountain site, and we saw where those answers led.

I personally think council should bail on the pan ams. This isn't worth betting our future on.

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By brian (registered) | Posted September 14, 2010 at 01:13:42

Listening to CH tonight (innovation park is out) and hearing this i think its finished. Too many things have to be resolved and they want a firm location right now. They already passed deadlines and unless they go for something that is on city owned land that has no issues they shouldnt even bother. The second Bob Young said No..whether we like it or not they should have figured out a suitable location.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted September 14, 2010 at 01:24:46

So we're going to tear up a rail yard so that we can build a stadium with better highway access?

I call bullshit. We don't need this stadium, at all. We don't need to appease Bob Young (we need to make it clear that he needs to appease US). We do need more rail service - much more, both freight and passenger. And if we're going to tear up the Aberdeen Yard, I can think of a hundred better things to put in that location than a stadium.

I supported the West Harbour stadium because it wasn't a fundamentally bad spot. This is. We all know what this thing is going to look like for 300+ days per year - empty. And this is a spot where people couldn't stand the thought of a bike path that wasn't fenced in.

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By AnneMariePavlov (registered) | Posted September 14, 2010 at 09:19:58

And who is to say that BY will not pull out at the eleventh hour again? I call this bullshit too.

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted September 14, 2010 at 09:56:58

If MIP is so valuable to this city, why not buy up the rail land to further expand MIP?

Sounds like a better use for that land than any stadium.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 14, 2010 at 10:02:17

I gotta say, I think this is best compromise site so far. A few points:

  1. We own the WH lands and are going to move forward there. Frank Gehry's people were quite clear about the fact that they'd prefer no stadium down there so they can design a huge signature building. City building at the WH is going to move ahead regardless, and that's great.

  2. This is city building in a new area. We are now going to reclaim over 50 acres of industrial land. That's huge IMO.

  3. Don't think Ivor Wynne when you think of a stadium going there. This will be a modern stadium with amenities around it and will tie into the urban amenities being developed at MIP. Think restaurants, patios, some retail etc..... modern stadium districts done right are fantastic. We won't be plopping a set of bleachers aka Ivor Wynee or BMO Field into this area.

  4. It is right on the #6 Aberdeen bus line, less than a 10 minute walk from the Main St corridor with it's many transit lines and future LRT and less than 10 mintues from the #7 line. Not to mention, it is accessible by foot and bike for urban residents and by the Chedoke Stairs for west mountain residents. It's a 15 minute walk to King and Marion in Westdale and Locke and Charlton. This site is far superior than Conf Park, EM or Lafarge and it actually brings more land into the MIP area instead of taking away land.

It may not be perfect, but it still has many of the aspects of urban reclamation and city building that we desire.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 14, 2010 at 10:21:15

Joey Coleman just reported a good point from his live blog of the meeting: CP is definitely interested in selling the land, and moving the rail yard away increases the chances of all-day GO Train service to the Hunter St GO station.

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted September 14, 2010 at 10:28:33

@ Ryan - Would elimitaing that rail yard, make it more difficult to eliminate or relocate the one down by WH?

ALso, where did Frank Gehry's people say they'd prefer no stadium?

This interest by them has huge potential to do more good than any stadium at WH. Wonder how serious they are, and what they have in mind.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 14, 2010 at 10:33:33

@CaptainKirk all very good questions. I hope we start to get some answers once the COW agenda moves onto the stadium issue.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted September 14, 2010 at 10:50:26

I have to say that at this point I'm very sceptical about any "modern stadium district". Every step in this planning process has turned away from that kind of thinking and toward ancient ideas about highways and parking lots.

There is NOTHING of this sort in the area at present. A short walk down Aberdeen finds the wreck of a Tim Hortons, and what used to be a Chinese restaurant/bar (there's now a very expensive restaurant there, not something for game-day fare). Going north instead, one finds the intersection of Main and Longwood with an empty lot that used to be a Macs Milk.

What are all these restaurants and patios going to do when it isn't game day?

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted September 14, 2010 at 11:00:21

My biggest concern is that the Ti-Cats have not yet committed anything, and they want the city to pitch in even more cash, and go begging to the feds and the province.

The ti-cats need the stadium more than the city does, so why don't they get off their asses and start doing something? Where are all these "private partners" that would never invest in the West Harbour? Why are they not coming forward now that we've found a site that the ti-cats are interested in (since the ti-cats said they liked the idea of MIP).

We're doing all the heavy lifting, and we aren't even going to get to locate the stadium at our preferred location...

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By catspaw (registered) | Posted September 14, 2010 at 11:00:44

We are going around in ever widening circles. Feasibility is being used instead of 'Pie in the sky' for this is what this really is. Do we have a special printing machine for money or is it the standard currency of plastic money we're using? I've lost count of all the proposed sites and in all of this as we are placating/catering to this also-ran team TiCats as if they were the star attraction. So we should give up this notion and fantasy idea and walk away from this short term gain for long term pain $$$$$$$

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted September 14, 2010 at 12:31:22

This is an interesting development and good on CP for jumping in and offerring up the land. Cost will be a factor no doubt, but I would think that if all the parties are agreeable a deal would get worked out. Clearly if CP has offered up the land then they know already where they are going to move the operation to.

This could be a positive outcome. I agree that done the right way this could help move along MIP and the Main West area in so far as development. An LRT link would be great moving forward and it is fairly accessible.

It will be interesting to see what happens.

Comment edited by Shempatolla on 2010-09-14 11:37:15

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted September 14, 2010 at 12:38:38

@ Undustrial - All reasons why a WH/downtown stadium is still, by far, the best location.

Why is the precinct concept now being ignored?


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By bigguy1231 (registered) | Posted September 14, 2010 at 13:05:22

So CP wants to sell the city some land. Did anyone stop to ask why.

Could it be that they know how contaminated that site is from 100 years of having rail traffic there. Back before we had environmental laws they used to change the oil in the locomotives right on the rails. They just let it flow into the soil.

CP wouldn't be able to sell this land without remediation. They see the city as an easy mark. Sell it to the city and let them clean it up at taxpayers expense.

The city should be saying thanks but no thanks. We don't need the headaches.

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted September 14, 2010 at 13:34:06

Not sure if the CP land/site is suitable for a stadium, but surely its sale is at least worth exploring as it must have some value, especially as exapanded MIP lands.

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By jason (registered) | Posted September 14, 2010 at 15:25:28

I agree Kirk. This is a great opportunity to snag some more urban brownfields. We'll get this city cleaned up one way or another, eventually!

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 14, 2010 at 16:28:17

Could it be that they know how contaminated that site is from 100 years of having rail traffic there.

City staff said today that it would cost about three times as much to remediate the CP lands as it will to remediate the WH.

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted September 14, 2010 at 17:05:20

@ Ryan - Were any actual numbers thrown around?

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By Shempatolla (registered) - website | Posted September 14, 2010 at 19:41:50

So remediation jumps to about 15 million from around 5 million. Still accepatable and about 25 million less than what it cost to remediate Bay Front Park if I recall. The other bonus is it gets heavy industrial land use out of what is essentially a residential area a few hundred yards away. I still think WH is the best site but lets face it. A deal has to be made if Pan Am in Hamilton is to continue. I would hope WH is still on track for development. If so this could be a more than acceptable compromise.

I do however want to see what the Tiger Cats are willing to bring to the table money wise.

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By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted September 14, 2010 at 20:35:32

I'd like to know what Katz group and Frank Gehry et al all have in mind so some sort of larger strategic planning could take place.

One thing is for sure, if those two groups decide to do something in Hamilton, major money will be involved. Money and development that just could help catalyse a stadium solution.

Yeah. I know. Wishful thinking.

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By catspaw (registered) | Posted September 15, 2010 at 11:37:13

The last train left the station regarding the stadium. Just another railroading fiction story looking for a publisher...........

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By Brian (registered) | Posted November 18, 2010 at 20:34:06

has anyone considered the loss of jobs at Steelcare if this property is purchased for the stadium. Has'nt Hamilton lost enough jobs over the years. Enough is enough. Who is going to find these people work; is the city going to give them a buy out package.

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