Dear Mr. Young re: stadium location

Dear Mr. Young;

I just read this from the new Hamilton Spectator article of Thurs. Feb. 19.

http://www.thespec.com/News/Local/article/516268

[b]"Hamilton politicians will be asked Monday to commit $60 million for a new Pan Am Games stadium and velodrome to be built on a west harbourfront site.

The cash would be the city's share of a $113-million combined complex to be built on a 30-acre site bounded by Barton and Stuart streets and Bay and Queen streets."[/b]

and then this from the same report

[b]"There is also risk that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the main tenant at Ivor Wynne Stadium and potential partner in a new stadium, may leave Hamilton should a new stadium not be built," Adames says in his report.

"The impact of losing North America's oldest professional football team may be significant on Hamilton's image, both short-term and long-term."

Ticat president Scott Mitchell said the organization supports the west harbourfront site but added the club would have to study the business model before revealing how much it would contribute to the project."[/b]

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE take a step back and really think hard about what City Hall is actually proposing here. They are trying to re-capture a romantic notion of a new stadium way down in the bowels of the north end as if it were 1950 all over again and people would enjoy fighting their way down there through city streets and then walking 5 or 10 blocks. Yes, it sounds like a Norman Rockwell painting all right and a step back into time -a la- Groundhog Day (deja vu?), but in reality who are they kidding?

To survive the next 50 years, the Tiger-Cats are going to HAVE to start marketing to places such as Brantford, Kitchener-Waterloo, St. Catharines, London, Caledonia, Cayuga, Hagersville, Dunnville, Grimsby, Niagara, Guelph, Burlington and all points between.

And which people will be the customers of the future? All the young people who right now have very little interest in toughing it out like most of us did as kids going to Ivor Wynne.
This new breed, and through no fault of their own, have been raised to arrive and depart in relative luxury and comfort to whatever their destination is, whether it be the mall, the movie theatre, concerts, casinos or just driving around. They like their technology in their hands until the last possible moment and really don't care much as to where they are going as long as it doesn't bring too much discomfort in arriving. This is why the Ancaster Meadowlands was designed the way it was and we now see that concept being developed on the East Mountain near Hwy # 20 and Hwy #53.
All the new money and housing development is on the south mountain now and will be for years to come. It would blow your mind what is happening up there and I suggest you take a tour even into Binbrook down to Rymal Road. It's mind-boggling and these young families ARE your new customers. They are the new breed that like convenience and ease of arrival to a destination.

Now, having said that, this is exactly why the Red Hill Expressway and the Lincoln Alexander Parkway were built and they now connect to both the QEW and the 403 and even the 401 via the 403. Also, the new Hamilton Airport by-pass can bring people onto the south mountain from Burlington and downtown Hamilton, Dundas and West Hamilton in mere minutes.

You should also know when I tried the new Red Hill when it opened, I entered the Linc from Upper James and via the Red Hill expressway and the QEW was on Ontario St. in St. Catharines in exactly 30 minutes going the exact speed limit.

This is how your new breed of customers want to travel and arrive at a new stadium and with a self enclosed parking lot just like Buffalo and all the newer venues have. Flamborough Downs in fact was an early example in this area of how people like their venue parking to be as well as easy, dummy-proof routes to get there.

Do you really think customers from all those new markets I proposed up above are going to want to drive into the street traffic hell of Hamilton to fight their way to the extreme north end ? Maybe up until the 80's they would, but the new crop of customers are either going to arrive in painless style or they won't come at all.

I don't think the city council has done any due diligence on the present and future demographic of YOUR customers, but rather, are tossing their stupid Norman Rockwell fantasies of a picturesque setting beside some water and trails that in all reality are covered in Canada Goose, squirrel and raccoon crap. They forget to mention that YOU will have a hell of a time convincing people from all those places in surrounding areas and towns to enjoy their awful drive down Burlington St or James St or Bay St. towards an ever narrowing area of jam packed homes, poor street design and traffic jam hell.

They want the glory of a two week event for their own posterity and nice looking photos and news clippings for their walls at home, to show off to their friends and families --------but with OTHER'S cash.

You on the other hand, will be stuck with a never ending battle forever, to convince people that fighting and clawing their way into one of the most choked, remote and depressing areas of Hamilton is the way of the future. Good Luck with that with the new demographic.

Did I mention that unlike the politicians, you have the pleasure of spending YOUR money for this disaster waiting to happen. And you'll be stuck with it well after these City Councillors are up north, retired and chugging their ales and lagers, watching the Tiger-Cats at No-Name Stadium in the stinky north end, from their cottage decks 200 miles away.

I urge you to not bite on this delusional pipe dream of theirs.

Get this stadium up onto the South Mountain where all the money is, the new, younger families are, the easy access via new highway infrastructure and massive land for both stadium and parking is. And above all, your new customers from all those new markets will appreciate you locating in a place they CAN FIND and feel positive about going to. Out of towners might even get to know all the brand new shopping areas on the South Mountain and come 8 hours earlier to do some shopping in proper malls instead of slogging through an old residential area fighting for parking.

I'm just saying to be very careful on this one Mr.Young. This is one City Council who doesn't have a very good track record of doing anything correctly.

I'll even suggest you do a quick helicopter tour of the South Mountain so you can visualize what's really happening there and get a mind's eye of the future and how all your new customers can arrive there with such ease and comfort.

Engineering wise, I understand the South Mountain has a base of limestone and clay which is ideal for a massive structure like a stadium.

Down in the North End on the other hand ?

Well,enough of all that.

I hope you read this Mr.Young and give this some serious thought and don't rely on these questionable characters for vision and direction.

And they want urban renewal to brag about? What? A few city blocks for the TV cameras in 2015 ?

Be smarter than those clowns.

That's all I have to say about that.

-deerhunter-

Deerhunter, excellent post but using your logic forget south mountain and Hamilton all together, go Burlington, Oakville areas where the younger families live and are richer than people on the south mountain etc. in Hamilton in general.

Personally, I have weaned myself off travelling into Toronto by car
to attend events like the CNE and sports events on their lakeshore

and so my preferred option to the West harbour lands stadium
will be to travel there by city bus, rapid transit or the GO train

Quick and easy car access to within a few blocks of the game
by sweeping along on the magic carpet of the 403 or the QEW

to the doorstep of a stadium will still result in traffic tie-ups
and delays when you get in your car going home after the event.

I see that every time as I relax on the GO train coming home.

I'm so very glad you brought that point up.

All the explosion of development from Binbrook down to Rymal and even into Ancaster is attracting all those very same people from Burlington and Oakville to relocate here. And you know they have money, lots of fancy toys and disposable income. Maybe Mr. Young can place a quick call to the Hamilton/Halton Home Builders Association which is located right on Rymal Road and get them to explain in detail what is going on up there. They will have all the answers he needs very quickly.

I just sense Mr. Young isn't quite aware of this goldmine of existing, and future, young customers and all the easy access to and from the south mountain for out of town fans. When I say young customers, I mean young families who are fairly well off.

And I also forgot to mention that all the Florida Style gated retirement villages and condos are on the south mountain. These are totally healthy, active youngish retirees who can run circles around most of us and would love a new stadium up there to go to Ticats games in comfort. Not to mention they are all financially stable. There are now thousands of those homes and new retirement developments being built as we speak.

I also failed to mention that the Red Hill Expressway now brings all the Hamilton East Enders up to the South Mountain in 5 minutes. (10 minutes from their driveways)

I'm sorry if I've typed a lot of thoughts here but I'd hate to see Mr. Young get another albatross hanging off his neck because this thing was rushed.

I just get a queazy feeling that someone hasn't done all their homework on this from Mr.Young's and the Tiger Cat's long term interest's standpoint.

The councillors who vote ‘yes’ for this project will NOT use
there own intuition to decide where to put this stadium

or the ‘off the cuff’ musings of their constituents.

They hired professionals and they will go by their opinions
of the best site location and design of the stadium, DH.

Interesting perspective and thoughts deerhunter. Now comparing this to the Argos where there was talk of them going to York University, there was discussion that the Argos would not be "in the downtown-lakeshore scene" if that happened and would be forgotten. Of course we can't directly compare this and Hamilton, I'll grant you that. Certainly downtown Hamilton or the waterfront isn't perceived in the lofty heights that similar areas in Toronto are.

I guess what you are also saying is that a lot of newcomers to Hamilton south mountain couldn't either care a rats aarrs about Hamilton downtown or waterfront or don't have the time or reason to go there for practically anything, and never will, they are bedroom residents of Hamilton area. And you might be right on this, I really don't know. But as well, even if the stadium was right beside them on the south mountain, would they care about the TiCats and going to games? Again, who knows.

While I appreciate your passion, you are wasting your breath so to speak.

Bob Young is committed to a downtown stadium and downtown Hamilton. He's already started by committing over $1 million dollars on the purchase and use of 1 Jarvis st.

Furthermore, your argument of recapturing the 1950s coulnd't be more wrong.

In the 1950s, Hamilton's waterfront was very industrial. Haven't you seen or read what's on the existing property now?

The current plans to remediate existing brownfields is a progressive trend that has been well eastablished in other citites with much success. it's the exact oppsoite of what you're thinking and worried about.

Suburban sprawl has proven itself to be unsustainable.

Also, I think that lecturing Bob on how to market his team insults his business acumen.

May I remind you that just last year, while the storm sewers in the east end were flooding the streets and homes, one of those learned councillors you speak of was wasting everyone's time extolling the virtues of his hairbrained idea to erect a fountain in the middle of Hamilton Harbour so passers-by on the Skyway Bridge could go ---ooooooooo, ahhhhhhhhh----and probably crash into each other.

No, Ronfromtigertown, Hamilton City Council isn't quite known for intelligent decision making no matter who they waste money on to advise them. The body of evidence on the record, pointing to ineptness, is overwhelming to say the least.

All in all, it's time for the Tiger-Cats to get serious about the future, market their brand to people with real money, cater to that market and stop being expected to be a charity for the City of Hamilton. They've done that for approx. 140 years already. It's a new era and it's time to go big or go home.

Failing that, as the Spectator article suggested, maybe the day will come that the Tiger-Cats have to leave the city for greener pastures like Burlington or Oakville.

They just won't last in this day and age with the old style ways.

As an example, the old style shopping of walking up and down Ottawa Street going from shop to shop carrying your meat and produce eventually ended. Welcome to the malls and Big Box stores of today.

Yes, it's a stark and cold reality but we seem to adjust in spite of it all.

I hope I just made a good argument for Mr. Young to start thinking of the South Mountain as that possible greener pasture he may be overlooking, or isn't being made aware of by his advisors. It's clear since he doesn't live here that he might not have the total picture of what is really happening as far as development on the south mountain and the brand new highway infrastructure and how it all really works.

If I recall correctly, Mr.Young said only a few weeks ago that he would go where is necessary. I took that to heart and hope he looks at all possibilities to be successful. I just hope he doesn't get cornered into thinking he has few options and is reliant on a City Council vote of all things.

I don't know how many more points I can make so I'll just sit back and watch any responses.

but, thanks for listening to my concerns and arguments for the south mountain. I hope some of it makes good sense.

And thanks to Mr. Young if he takes the time to read this conversation. The Ticats are worthy enough for us all to be giving what ideas we have. I wish I had lots of capital myself to be able to add a more powerful voice, but alas, I'll have to wait until my next lifetime.

All in all, it's time for the Tiger-Cats to get serious about the future, market their brand to people with real money, cater to that market and stop being expected to be a charity for the City of Hamilton.

deerhunter, please explain this charity aspect of the Tiger-Cats. I've heard other people mention this but have never fully understood what it means. One person years ago said it was a joke to him that someone from the TiCats organization, and this is pre-Bob Young years, knocked on his door asking about a donation of sorts to the TiCats. Is this what you are speaking of? Or that the city must prop up the Cats at all costs to keep the team viable and stay here? I still don't get it completely. What about other things in Hamilton that are looked upon this way?

I hear what you are saying and have said this somewhat myself in the past which is why I believe a new stadium is needed in a different area even if it means increased cost of tickets. I'll admit this.

Do you mean that bob should cater to the suits
who go to Leafs and Raptors games, deerhunter?

and not people who complain about Ticat season ticket prices
that are sometimes less than game tickets for those teams?

ron, I can tell you one thing, that's probably who Mr. Balsillie will be catering to if he gets his team and brings them to Hamilton, rightly or wrongly.

Thank you Earl.

I think you are close to understanding my intent of what I'm saying.

Maybe a better way if summing this up would be that after 5 years or so of the owner experimenting and tinkering with a franchise that was in ruins organizatinal wise and in the dumper financially wise, I'd certainly understand if Mr.Young finally believed it was time to upscale the whole operation to the next level and really concentrate on maximizing all possible revenue streams and from the best lucrative market he can reach in this area. And being able to offer the best venue, products, services, accessability and comfort to an increasingly demanding client base.

As an exaggerated example of this business principle, we only have to look at the NBA, NFL, NASCAR and the WWE as to what happens when you focus on revenues and raise the bar as far as your entertainment value goes. People still show up and willingly pay the freight.

And don't think I'm ignoring the product on the field. That's a different thing to be sure and a necessary component which I believe will come around soon enough.

I'm just of the belief that it's still an entertainment industry and has to generate substantial revenues and returns for the investor. It will come to the point of being an industry that you can either afford to patronize or you can't. And if some can't afford that anymore, make sure you position yourself to be accessable and desirable to the market that can.

And be clear that these are only my observations from other businesses and industries that face the same dilemna. I'm sure not presuming to know what is on Mr. Young's mind so I have to clarify that these are only my personal thoughts. He's done a lot better at making bucks in the overall picture than I have I am willing to wager.

And here this! my fingers hurt from typing. I might regret starting this conversation. And I thought facebook was bad !

May this be a prosperous day for everyone and I hope President Obama brought us all some bail-out cash for our new stadium (ahem-----on the south mountain) hehehe

over-out

--deerhunter--

A passionately argued post, deerhunter, but I think that both your reality and mine will come to pass.

You argue against a return to the idyllic 1950's, when Hamilton was more of a traditional city. Obviously things have changed, some for the better.

But then you promote a continuation of the urban sprawl mindset of the 1980's and 1990's, where the solution to aging infrastructure is to move away from it. Once the first gen burbs get a bit shabby, you build a second generation of burbs further out. And once they get a bit shabby, you build a third gen burbs further out again. Problem is you've got an ever bigger, ever more expensive infrastructure problem following about 20-30 years behind you, and it's still your taxes, and your kid's taxes, that are paying to sustain it all. You don't like Hamilton's crippling taxes and infrastructure problems - welcome to urban sprawl.

A lot of places figured this out 15-20 years ago and are on another course now. If you have a special place, like a waterfront, that is rare and desirable, you can use it as the leverage to kickstart redevelopment of the underutilized areas from ground zero out.

You talk about the idyllic southern suburbs of the Hammer. Yeah, they're there, but you need to drive along the lakeshore in Burlington or Aldershot to see what people are willing to build with thier own money on a waterfront. As I look out my front window, there's a crew hard at work finishing up a $1.1 million dollar house across the street - and it's infill, built on a smallish, difficult lot that three years ago was the unused side yard of modest waterfront bungalow that is now another $1.2M house. Look at the beachstrip - in the 1970's city council tried to kill the place off but it's become a thriving middle class community again in just three years. Look at Toronto - all of the suburbanites that grew up in Don Mills and Scarborough moved to (SIC) greener pastures in Richmond Hill and Aurora and bragged that they hadn't been downtown in years. 20 years later, there are massive condo complexes on every corner in downtown and many of the kids of those people are living a very urban lifestyle downtown. It started with the waterfront and the Skydome development but now stretches well back into almost every nook of the old city. And look at Baltimore and Washington and Vancouver and Atlanta and Boston and the list goes on and on and on.

The future you promote is a past that many cities abandoned 10-20 years ago because cities eventually figured out that they were still on the hook financially for the ever-expanding abandoned areas that their urban sprawl zoning policies created. And unless the urban sprawlers move to another city, they are the taxpayers in fancy new burbs that find they are still paying for the problems they thought they'd left behind.

I'm not suggesting the fancy new burbs will disappear any time soon (although in many of them across the US, many 5-10 year old houses stand empty and abandoned. I've seen it - imagine the nicest new subdivision in Flamborough with one in four houses standing empty and abandoned - that's what large parts of California, Vegas and other places look like now). Hamilton has a chance to start building again from the centre out, starting from the desirable west harbour and lakefront areas. With nice burbs surrounding the city, and nice new communities ringing the bay and lake, the problems of an aging city will start to become manageable again. It's already strating to happen - it's just that Hamilton let the problem get so big that it's hard to see the new parks and restaurants and fixer-uppers through the potholes and clogged sewers.

For a bankrupt, undesirable-to-developers city, replacing the toxic brownfields with a new stadium park at 50 cents on the dollar is one big step in the right direction.

Something to ponder about urban sprawl:

An additional 100 million Americans must not be housed in urban sprawls

[i]24 March 2007: In just the next thirty-four years, the US Census Bureau says 300 million Americans would be joined by nearly another 100 million. Where will all these people live, work and play? Where will 40 million additional households be located? What sort of built environment will America produce, and what will be the results for the nation’s and the environment’s well-being? Most planners believe there will be more, much more urban sprawl. However, a report argues that’s exactly what must not happen.

The United States’ future urban land development should not reproduce the pattern of sprawl. This is the main conclusion of a paper by James McElfish of the US Environmental Law Institute. In the paper, McElfish lists ten adverse effects of sprawl that have become apparent over the past years. Similarly to the 2006-report of the European Environmental Agency, the paper emphasises that urban sprawl should be a priority issue on the public policy agenda.

The ‘ten things wrong with sprawl’ identified by McElfish show that sprawl does not only have a negative impact on cities’ infrastructure and sustainability, but also on their public facilities, economic development and social cohesion.

In sprawling cities, the available infrastructure resources are drained to finance the construction of new roads, schools and sewage systems. This undermines the effective maintenance of existing infrastructure. In addition, exurban development increases the societal costs for transportation. This is because, in general, sprawling areas try to accommodate the growing traffic by expensive retrofits of roads and highways.

The environmental consequences of exurban development should not be underestimated either. Metropolitan areas, which are sprawled have a far higher consumption of energy, metal, concrete and asphalt because homes, offices and utilities are farther apart. The water and air quality are negatively affected, and habitats (such as farmland) are permanently altered or destroyed.

McElfish also points out that maintaining a community is difficult in sprawled areas. They require more driving because workplaces, housing, schools and leisure facilities are located in separate areas. This not only imposes a tax on time, but also makes it complicated to engage in social connections.

In economic terms, sprawl encourages ‘free-riding’. Exurban areas typically lack public facilities, such as community centres, parks and libraries. Residents of these areas therefore make use of the facilities in inner city areas, which are often subsidised by others. Moreover, sprawl separates poor people from jobs. Lack of affordable housing in the suburbs makes it difficult for people with a low income to move nearer to workplaces. For those living in the inner city who cannot afford to drive, sprawl reduces the availability of jobs.

Ten things wrong with urban sprawl:

  1. Sprawl development contributes to a loss of support for public facilities and public amenities.
  2. Sprawl undermines effective maintenance of existing infrastructure.
  3. Sprawl increases societal costs for transportation.
  4. Sprawl consumes more resources than other development patterns.
  5. Sprawl separates urban poor people from jobs.
  6. Sprawl imposes a tax on time.
  7. Sprawl degrades water and air quality.
  8. Sprawl results in the permanent alteration or destruction of habitats.
  9. Sprawl creates difficulty in maintaining community.
  10. Sprawl offers the promise of choice while delivering more of the same.[/i]
[url=http://www.citymayors.com/development/sprawl-usa.html]www.citymayors.com/development/sprawl-usa.html[/url]

As someone with a degree in human geography who has taken his fair share of urban planning classes, I couldn’t have said it better myself Earl and Section8.

Well done.

  • paul

Earl -- well done. Nicely put.

Deerhunter -- while I respect your opinion, I couldn't disagree with you more. Without restating all the well-thought out points already presented, I can't help but feel your philosophy -- which is shared by many, many others -- has to start changing.

The way you refer to the 'stinky' north end is very indicative of a perception problem we have. Bring someone completely new to the area and take them down James North and they only see the bright spots of being so close to beautiful park areas, proximity to amenities and the old growth neighbourhoods....like numerous high-end communities in Toronto.

I'm not for a minute saying that this city doesn't need a major cleanup -- and our friends in the neighbouring factories have done little to make living and working in that area anything more than a health hazard. But, I think that area of the city is in transition.

Never again will Hamilton be this enormous hub of steel making and manufacturing. And good riddance, I say. Hopefully we can do what we can to manage what manufacturers are staying and clean up the colossal damage that's been done in the last 100 years or so. Hopefully that will pave the way for further development of creative/ intellectual industries like the health sciences -- who are now the city's largest employer.

Public transit and proximity to amenities is what will make a stadium and the surrounding city successful. Continuing to support increased density will help to promote growth where we need it, and where it makes sense. Downtown.

What I don't understand is that it sounds like they want to build a 15,000 seat stadium for now with the possibility to extend it to 25-27,000 in the future (before the 2015 games)?

Thanks slo.

ticats4life, I know I got the same confusing message from what I’ve been reading. My only guess is that right now, there is nothing on the table that is a given funding-wise except for the 15,000 seat stadium from the feds/prov? After Monday, assuming city council approves going ahead with the games and stadium project, others such as businessmen like Bob Young, developers etc. can look at the specs in the report from city council and decide how much they will contribute to get it to the larger stadium size, which I assume would be ready for the Pan-Am Games which would include some funds from the city of Hamilton. So right now we have just Phase I, and then Phase II would be rolled into Phase I immediately with the city’s money, Bob’s and others on board. Surely there wouldn’t be just a 15,000 seater for the Pan-Am Games, I would hope not anyways! Heck, London had practically that for the Canada Games a few years back.

As an example, the old style shopping of walking up and down Ottawa Street going from shop to shop carrying your meat and produce eventually ended. Welcome to the malls and Big Box stores of today.

This old style shopping was exactly what was available when Ivor Wynne first came to fruition. This is where people were, where they were going. As the community aged, the crowds stopped, stores closed, and downtown slowly started to become what it is today.

To put the new stadium on the new airport lands would not only be irresponsible city planning but it would also be irresponsible to the people of Hamilton that need public transport to the games.

We can sit here and argue that public transit could be added to get people to and from games but that will cost money. That money will come from taxpayers. Hamilton is in line to receieve funding from the Provincial and Federal governments under the Metrolinx plan. This $50billion dollar plan will be designed to move people quickly around Hamilton. The first phase of this plan is scheduled to provide transit in the downtown core as well as quick mountain access. This is a 50 year plan so in order for money from Metrolinx to be used on transit to and from the airport lands, the city would have to wait until the next phase of funding. Until then the trasit burden is on taxpayers, and last I heard higher taxes were not going to move this stadium proposal along.

To place a stadium on the outer edge of the city will definately help to bring in more people from surrounding areas but it will take away from many residents. Many people feel that the airport lands will be easier to get to and there will not be as many parking problems. That is all relative to where you live. Currently for me getting to and from the Harbour lands would be easier than the airport. Also although there may be plenty of room for parking on the airport lands, I just want to know how many people have ever had to tackle to autrocious parking lots in Orchard Park after a Bills Game. I would rather have to look 20min for parking than sit in it for hours after the game.

The Ontario Government has what is called the Places to Grow Plan. Under this plan cities in the greater golden horshoe are required to have 40% of all new residential development in built up areas by the year 2015. Urban sprawl on all levels is slowing.

If you think that these young families will be the ones that will support the Ticats for years to come, just think about the young families that were around Ivor Wynne 50 years ago. There is a need to redevelop downtown and put people back in our cities for recreation, leisure, and living. This stadium can go a long way in helping produce a new image for Hamilton. Many more business and residents may follow.

Deerhunter I also respect your view but i think waterfront is a better choice.I think it should go further east on old int.harvester lands stelcos lands.Move industry out of the west end of the harbour and recapture it for people.The stadium should be the first step in the push.