Bob Young optimistic about new Tiger-Cats stadium

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Ticat owner – and self-described team caretaker – Bob Young writes in an open letter that he’s excited about a Pan Am stadium at Aberdeen and Longwood.

But he makes it clear it isn’t a done deal and urges supporters to keep the pressure on city hall until it’s a reality.

There will be a future for the Tiger-Cats in Hamilton. But we need your help.

[i]As a 12-year-old, I remember taking the bus down from Ancaster to downtown Hamilton to visit our family dentist, Dr. Coborn in the Medical Arts Building on James Street South. As the bus drove past Aberdeen, I used to idly admire the boxcars sitting in the TH&B railyards. I would often wonder what the initials TH&B stood for, but we were soon on Main and I was admiring the then new City Hall, and the cannons and Queen Victoria in Gore Park. This was the 1960’s and Gore Park was pretty cool to a 12-year-old.

Little did I know but the TH&B railyards, now known as the CP railyards, and those old boxcars that sat there would be a very important part of Hamilton’s and the Tiger-Cats’ future 45 years later.

The good news - no, the great news - is that we appear close to having reached an agreement on a plan for the Pan Am stadium for Hamilton that will work for the Pan American Games committee (Hostco), the City of Hamilton, and the Tiger-Cats.

You will have no doubt heard of some of the stories and some of the complaints about the proposed stadium. One of the features of a vibrant democracy is that you will never be able to please all the people all the time. Yet as a society and a successful democracy, we make decisions and we move forward. We build airports for our airline industry to use, we build roads for our trucking industry to use, and occasionally, once every 70 years or so, we decide to build a stadium for the teams representing our city to play in and for the community to use.

This is one of those years. More great news for the taxpayers of Hamilton is that both the provincial and federal governments are investing the majority of the funding for this project.

This great opportunity means that for the first time in decades, the Tiger-Cats and the City of Hamilton will have a first-rate facility we can be proud of as a national showcase for not only the teams but our great city. The Tiger-Cats won’t have to rely on wealthy owners to subsidize the team representing Hamilton. Between investing in the $2 million Dofasco/Arcelor Mittal TigerVision scoreboard, refurbishing the team’s quarters at Ivor Wynne, buying a building downtown for the business operations, and funding the operating losses of the team for the last six years, as Caretaker of the team I’ve invested over $30 million in the team and the city of Hamilton. We employ over 250 people in a wide variety of roles, and hundreds more part-time workers in Hamilton rely on and benefit from our related businesses.

The economics of a CFL team, even when we bring additional events to a new stadium, do not enable CFL teams to build their stadiums on their own. We can, and we will be, investing in the stadium and working with the City to find new revenue streams to ensure the stadium contributes enough economic activity (and the resulting tax revenue) to the City of Hamilton that the stadium more than justifies the city’s investment.

My goal is not and was never to get rich owning the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. My original goal still applies, namely that I am just the Caretaker of this 141-year-old cultural institution, and it is my responsibility to ensure the team prospers for at least another 141 years after I am no longer able to contribute. The team had gone bankrupt in 2003 and has lived on the edge of insolvency for the last 40 years, trying to play out of Ivor Wynne.

To be clear, we all love Ivor Wynne. When it was built as Civic Stadium in 1930, Ivor Wynne was on the outskirts of Hamilton with lots of parking and great road and public transit access. The growth of the City over the last 80 years causes even the public transit HSR buses to have trouble navigating the traffic before and after games. All successful downtown stadiums are both downtown and are located on major highways. It is not a choice between public transit and private vehicle; all successful stadiums take advantage of all popular forms of transit to and from the event. We are not talking about an Art Gallery or an office building with a few hundred or a few thousand visitors over the course of a day. We are talking about a large audience venue where we need to get 25,000 or more people to the venue within an hour or two of the game, and home again as quickly as possible. Choosing one form of transit over all others just does not work. We need to ensure stadium customers have as many options as possible, the more the better, from walking, to bicycling, to busing, to riding on a future LRT, or driving themselves and their friends to the stadium. All of this will be possible at the CP railyards.

While there are no guarantees in business, the positive attributes of this new location will allow the Tiger-Cats, potential other teams, and the economics of the stadium itself a realistic chance to be successful. The new stadium will feature most of the elements needed in a modern large audience facility. From modern, comfortable individual seats, to good access, to public transit and major highways, the stadium will attract visitors from across the province to attend football games, soccer games, and many other entertainment events in Hamilton.

Building the stadium on the CP railyards also meets the City’s desire to see additional investment in the city urban core, including upgrading the value of existing urban space, in this case converting a 110-year-old underused railway yard into a modern sports and entertainment district.

I’m excited as a Tiger-Cat fan, but more importantly, I’m excited as a Hamiltonian about this Pan Am stadium. We are going to need your help if we and the City are going to get this project across the finish line. We need you to send a note to the mayor and to your city councillor. Also, don’t be shy about speaking up in all the online forums from to about your support for building a successful stadium in Hamilton.

The City, the community and the Tiger-Cats need closure on this issue. Let’s get the job done!


Bob Young is Caretaker/owner of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

I don't know much about the man, but I like what I just read. :thup:

Ya gotta give him props. He doesn't give up easily ... and good thing, too.

Lets hope all parties get things right this time so that everyone can start looking forward to a new stadium and with it, a new era of economic prosperity for the Ticats and just maybe the dawn of a new era of popularity for the CFL in its largest market.

I agree. He seems like he genuinely cares about the Tiger-Cats and the CFL. That was an incredibly well written letter. :smiley:

Big time cheers to Bob Young. :thup:

We certainly have some good owners, like Bob and Mr. Braley here in our league.

Sounds good. Hopefully this thing workouts for the Ti-cats and the city as well.

Thanks guys. Us fans here are working on it but we have some folk in this city opposed to anything that the TigerCats ask for, even with Bob Young having put millions and millions into this city already.

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The Tiger-Cats and some minor partners are ready to invest in the Pan Am stadium and work with the city to develop revenue streams to make it viable.

He did not detail how much the football club would contribute or if that contribution is tied to naming rights or other revenue sources. To this point, the club had offered only to buy and develop land adjacent to the stadium.

A spokesperson for city manager Chris Murray, who has led stadium negotiations, said the football club’s financial participation and management obligations in running the stadium will be outlined to city council next Tuesday.

Talks are on schedule and all the parties are working to make the stadium project happen, the spokesperson said.

“Bob Young has gone from being not optimistic to optimistic,? said Councillor Lloyd Ferguson. “That and agreement on a site are two positive developments.?

But he warned getting the long-simmering stadium issue to the finish line is still challenged by a large funding gap.

Ferguson said the city can’t contribute more and needs help from the federal government and Toronto 2015 host corporation.

A source close to the Pan Am planning said Young’s commitment to chip in on the stadium is a big step forward, adding Ottawa is expected to come up with some money, too.

The source said Young is taking another leap in faith in putting money into the stadium after substantial investments in the Ticats and his sports marketing business MRX.

“This site would be his third choice, after Aldershot and Confederation Park.?

The promise of money follows the call last week from the federal government for the football club and other private-sector parties to help finance a stadium that has grown in cost from early projections.

The funding gap between the $125 million three levels of government would provide and a bare-bones 25,000-seat stadium is $35 million. And that doesn’t include land acquisition, remediation and tenant relocation.

One positive, a source said, is that land cleanup costs won’t be as high as feared.

City council is scheduled to consider the stadium Tuesday to meet a HostCo deadline.

But the federal government is expected to ask for another deadline extension so that a new council following the municipal election can vote on the stadium proposal.

Now that's just not totally accurate

What part of what Earl said is inaccurate? Some people in Hamilton are opposed to anything the Tiger-Cats ask for. Bob Young has put millions of dollars into the local economy through various endeavours. Those are the two statements Earl made, and both are accurate.

Perhaps he is disputing the accuracy of "Thanks guys."

I'm sure that Earl didn't mean to exclude female supporters from his thanks. :wink: