Things are getting interesting. I hope Bob doesn't get screwed in this deal.
Lefko: Katz, Hamilton mayor make big play[url=http://www.sportsnet.ca/football/cfl/2010/06/29/lefko_katz_hamilton/]http://www.sportsnet.ca/football/cfl/20 ... _hamilton/[/url]
BY PERRY LEFKO
[i]Edmonton Oilers' owner Daryl Katz is looking to become a major player in Hamilton by buying Copps Coliseum and committing to a stadium complex for the 2015 Pan American Games while developing a multi-purpose business/retail infrastructure around it. Sources told sportsnet.ca he's also looking to purchase the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, even though the CFL club isn't for sale.
In fact, Hamilton mayor Fred Eisenberger indicated a couple weeks ago at a charity fundraiser that he had an individual willing to buy the Ticats, even though he didn't contact the team's owner Bob Young, who has never actually publicly said he wants to sell the team.
Young is at odds with Hamilton City Council and Eisenberger, who have approved a site by the West Harbour for a 15,000-seat facility that can be expanded to accommodate at least 30,000 and make it viable for the Tiger-Cats to play. They currently play at Ivor Wynne Stadiun, which can hold a maximum of 30,000, but rarely has attendance of more than 20,000 and is in need of major repairs. A source said Young is prepared to put $10 million into the new stadium. The city has already committed $60 million.
According to a source, Young only learned of Katz's plan on Monday night and may feel undermined by what has happened behind his back.
Katz entertained the idea of buying the Toronto Argonauts earlier this year, but backed out because he deduced there was no way to make money. It has been losing millions annually despite all kinds of attempts by various owners to turn the franchise around.
Katz is believed to be primarily concerned about developing a business/entertainment complex at the West Harbour site and owning the Ticats is a secondary interest. If he was successful in developing the West Harbour area, the stadium could be an add-on facility for events besides just football.
Sources said Katz has an interest in Copps because he believes it can make money as a privately owned and managed complex. It is run by the city-managed Hamilton Entertainment and Convention Facilities Inc.
Katz is partnering with AEG Live, the company owned by Philip Anschutz, who owns the Los Angeles Kings and their Staples Centre arena. Anschutz also owns a building in Kansas City. He is successful in running arenas through his entertainment company, which promotes rock concerts and live events. AEG Live was scheduled to produce Michael Jackson's shows in England.
There has been speculation Katz, who has made a fortune as owner of the franchised pharmacy company Rexall, may want to make Copps attractive for a future NHL team. A source told sportsnet.ca that is blatantly untrue.
Young meanwhile disapproves of the new stadium's proposed location, claiming publicly he would lose $7 million a year because it does not offer amenities for parking, nor does it offer visibility for a company willing to pay for naming rights. His preferred destination is a site near the highway.
While the $7 million figure seems staggering, sources say he is losing $5 million annually operating the Ticats.
David Braley, who owns the Toronto Argonauts and B.C. Lions and is a major financial player in the Hamilton area, has been critical of the city's decision to pick a site without first developing a business plan. Braley had been a board member with the Pan Am Games Committee and had been reluctant to make his comments public. However, when he was named a senator on May 20, he had to give up his seat on the board and that allowed him to make his feelings known.
The Pan Am Games committee has set a deadline of July 8 for the stadium issue to be resolved. A facilitator was hired on May 18 to bring Young and the City closer together, but they are farther apart now, a source said.
There have been suggestions if the stadium site is not resolved by the deadline, the Games committee will look to Varsity Stadium in Toronto and expand it from 7,200 to 15,000. The stadium is needed only for track and field.
Young, a Hamilton native who made billions in the Internet software business, became owner of the Tiger-Cats after the 2003 season. He paid a reported $2 million to the Canadian Football League, which took over the team from its previous owners in mid-season for failing to pay its bills.
He has also gone through presidents, general managers, coaches and high-priced players with regularity due to inexperience operating a sports franchise and placing trust in individuals who were poor fits. That said, the current football operation, managed by Bob O'Billovich, appears to be the strongest since it last won the Grey Cup in 1999.
The business operation is struggling, though president Scott Mitchell indicated on a conference call on May 11 that the team has eclipsed its season-ticket numbers and corporate-revenue totals from 2009. No numbers were provided to indicate the season-ticket numbers nor the revenue totals. As a private company, the Tiger-Cats do not have to reveal their financials.
Young is only the latest owner to lose millions operating the team.
Hamilton hasn't hosted the Grey Cup since 1996 and interest in the team has ebbed because the product on the field has underperformed. Young has not had one winning season and has regularly been at or near the basement of the eight-team league.[/i]