Entertainment District


I'm posting this here as it's a sports related Hamilton story.

Our entertainment and convention facilities are in desperate need of modernization. But we're at a cross road as to what to do with them.

As a mid size city with growth aspirations, what do we need?

I think a larger, more modern convention centre is the easiest argument to make. My understanding is Hamilton loses out on many events because the convention centre is to small and outdated. With the new hotel rooms we've added in recent years, accommodations aren't the issue they once were .

Copps is the bigger question. A hockey arena for the Bulldogs is needed, but 10, 000 seats max. A modern 10,000 at arena world also suit the new honey badgers basketball team, and perhaps a WCHL and lacrosse team. Is there a reason to keep it at 17,000?

Arena concerts appear to be a thing of the past, except for country. But a smaller arena removes Hamilton as a relocation candidate for the NHL, even if the odds are small anyway.

What should we do?

Fairly simple. Your talking the city of Hamilton and a city council that has a history of making poor decisions. Last but not least money. Taxes are high now, where does the money come from?

The money part can’t be ignored… either way. Three city owned facilities that are aging and need repairs. Can’t just bury our head in the sand.

Andleaur has offered to cover 50% of the arena cost, that’s not insignificant, one of the more responsible offers from any sports team owner.

“city staff will take charge”, thats all you need to know. Its like communism…how has it worked out so far.

Great question.

I guess I was hoping for something more inspired other then the usual government griping.

Let’s pretend commenters are city staff and council. Now that your oppressors have been removed, you’re free to Express your superior intellect :slight_smile:

A solid idea would have been to build a smaller arena on the new high school grounds across the street from THF - providing the area another 34 dates plus other events a small arena can draw (Curling, smaller concerts, etc). With THF providing soccer dates on top of 10-11 football dates you actually might have been able to grow the area with restaurants, bars, hotels, etc. Ottawa has thrived in the area because they have the small arena next to the stadium.

This city should have just dumped the NHL dream and built the OHL arena in the same area as the football stadium.

Oh well. Maybe in 75 years.

It would be fun to stage a display like those field goal-kicking contests that have been cropping up for people who claim they could have made that kick. Only make it a municipal budget-making contest for people who claim all politicians and government employees are complete idiots, and they could do much better.

I’m not in favour of near year round paid parking on the local residential lawns. This neighbourhood is a poor choice for expanding big time sport entertainment in Hamilton. Any future thought of building new containers for sport in this city should include considerable on premise parking.

I’m betting the latter contest would produce more winners than the former did.

They (most not all counc.) are maroons. Name one accomplishment in the past 50 yrs…that they didnt f up. We pay them they work for us.

The football stadium should have been built near Copps either bayfront or Sir J A site.

An entertainment/sports district would have been great…that ship has sailed.

But you do realize this is not on the city? They had a plan that was scuttled by, well, you know.

I have to agree that I don’t think the THF area makes for the best entertainment district, and a new arena shouldn’t be built there .(fun fact, scott park, along with eastgate square and u. Wentworth and linc) were considered as options for Copps location in 70s/ early 80s).

Ideally we would go with a small arena that can be expanded if the Tigers ever return. I’d demo the north half of Jackson square (behind the towers) and build a large convention centre there, along with a smaller, but updated retail component.

It would be pretty entertaining, just as many YouTube views if not more!!

It’s kinda neat, with Ticats, Bulldogs ,honey badgers and Forge FC, were becoming the minor league sports city capital…maybe we should embrace it? We have a new stadium, now a new arena could make the experience fun and bring fans out.

There’s alot more hotels versus 10 years ago. Hilton on bay is not boutique, ramada downtown, sandman on centennial. Several more are planned. A modern convention centre could be a chicken and egg scenario, build it and that’ll encourage even more hotels. The carmen’s group is planning one as part of their proposal.

Alright, here’s my take.

As far as the convention centre and Hamilton place is concerned, both appear to be profitable, both don’t require major renovations yet but will need them soon, keep it in mind an us as a city should start budgeting for upgrading it, especially so it can be used to host Grey Cup events and attract more business. Just keep in mind, I don’t think any Grey Cup festival can really be had anywhere but James St N. like supercrawl. There’s no other place in the city where you have restaurants, shops, amenities and the ability to close up a street apart from it.

As far as the arena, lets face it, the NHL dream is dead. The second Quebec City built the Videotron Centre that was the final nail in the coffin. It’s doubtful the NHL even wants to expand into Canada at this time, and if they do, they have a modern facility in Quebec City waiting in the wings. Add the lack of an owner, the proximity to the Leafs and Sabres, no federal or province assistance forthcoming on such a build and that the facility would require at minimum 250 million (likely far more) to get up the NHL standards in today’s money, that’s way too much money for the city to even consider, just to keep chasing the dream.

So where does that leave us? Let’s look at all the facts.

  • We have an OHL team, with a proven dedicated owner who is willing to front half the build cost of a new arena but won’t go it alone, and is getting tired with the status quo.
  • We have an ageing facility that has some viability concerns for said owner, currently has some bidding on rights to run it, can attract some major concerts and shows (although not at the level as major Toronto venues) albeit not at a huge short-term profit to the city, and whose renovation will be a major expense that will soon be required.
  • A climate and budget in city hall that wants to save money and had a very rocky go on it’s last major facility build
  • A report in hand that says it will cost $68 million for a partial upgrade for modern boxes and concessions to the lower bowl, and unclear if further hockey specific renovations would also be needed
  • Two major ballparks numbers on recently built arenas. The 5,300 seat Meridian Centre that comes in at $53 million in today’s dollars and the 9,000 seat Budweiser Gardens that would come at the cost of $69 million in today’s dollars.

I think the answer as to what should be done should be obvious, sell the facility to the highest bidder and use that money to build a top of the line OHL arena for a tenant that wants to pay half the cost, and work into the deal that part of that cost is that the team has a locked in lease for a long period of time. The sheer volume of money you are going to need to spend to renovate Copps is literally twice what you will have to spend to build a new arena right now.

Find the money somehow to build a new facility now while you have an owner who will put up the costs. From my understanding, ice time is at a premium for the city right now, so fundamentally at worst you are building an overpriced arena that will find use and can still be used for other events that has a stable prime tenant.

As far as where you build this facility? I think that depends on the fate of Copps and if you plan to build some kind of concert venue or something at the West Harbour. I think Limeridge Mall is ideal, because then you can turn it into a convention venue too and add hotels there and have parking, and the mall is indeed looking at expanding into office facilities and residents. I think most other spots have pros and cons that could make them work. Downtown, West Harbour, McMaster U., McMaster Innovation Park, but I think the Airport, Confederation Park, the top of the Red Hill and near Tim Horton’s Field are all bit dicey, as you still have the issue of limited economic spinoff, home/park removal, access issues and lost land tax revenue.