Welcome to the Pan-Am Games file again, ahem.
As reported by the Hamilton Spectator on March 2, the 2015 Pan-Am Games Committee sent a letter dated March 1 to City Council inviting a proposal to host the games' baseball tournaments for both baseball and softball.
The cost involved features a preliminary estimate of as much as $13 million, with Hamilton having to carry a 44 percent share of that, or $5.72 million if the figure this is based upon is indeed a maximum.
I am not crazy about the idea of going further into the Future Fund over Pan-Am Games expenditures. Nor do I think we are in any particular position to add such costs into the current budget being outlined, given that it looks very much as though there is a possible tax increase on the horizon already.
It is not difficult to understand the cool reception this is getting from some members of the Council in light of the political extravaganza that was the Great Stadium Debate.
Further, in addition to the budget debate, there are other issues afoot such as the continuing sagas of LRT, the West Harbour lands, the Board of Education building and the McMaster University proposal deal... City Council currently has a lot of important (and potentially very costly) items on its plate.
Still, let's not throw this idea out of the park until we take a good look at the pitch. We do have baseball, and softball facilities that could be adapted for the games with temporary stands to bring them up to the standards outlined by the 2015 Pan-Am Committee for the tournament.
Baseball is a sport that is played and watched throughout much of the Americas, and for Hamilton to host it might provide an opportunity to do some international marketing and self-promotion of our city during the tournament.
If the deal could be done such that private interests could carry some of the costs in exchange for advertizing opportunities during the two tournaments, this may be a means of off-setting the costs of facility upgrades that we could put to future use for local minor and rep community-level baseball.
That's a selling point in regards to the stadium from the standpoint of local future use of the facilities after the Pan-Am tournaments were concluded. Further, temporary seating upgrades may come in at considerably less than $5.7 million.
I understand the caution that has been initially expressed by the Council, who I'm sure do not want to "get plunked by a wayward curveball" in a deal like this. Still, we should at least have a good look at it before saying no.
The deadline to respond is reported as being July 31. Taking the time to have a good look may reveal a home run pitch that we ought to take a good solid cut at.