Lefko: Katz & Mayor vs. Bob Young for 'Cats and Stadium

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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]

Caught this in today's tree-ware version of the Hamilton Spectator, PDF link below.

Katz stadium proposal is a game-changer

There’s good-faith negotiating and there’s bad-faith negotiating.

And from the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ perspective, city council’s willingness to consider handing over management of the proposed Pan Am stadium to the Katz group from Edmonton falls solidly in the second camp.

According to Tiger-Cats president Scott Mitchell, the startling proposal undermines discussions with Michael Fenn, the facilitator brought in to help solve the disagreement between the club and the city over the west harbour site.

“We’ve acted in good faith through this process the whole time,? Mitchell said. “Obviously, things like this represent something other than good faith.?

Yesterday’s bombshell landed just nine days before the July 8 target date for finding a solution to an impasse that threatens both the future of the team and the stadium project.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger denies that talking about turning over stadium operations to billionaire Daryl Katz undercuts the city’s negotiations with the Ticats.

The mayor insists those discussions are only about the stadium location, not the business arrangements connected to the facility.

“What we’re doing with the Tiger-Cats is a site issue,? he said.

“Once a site is identified is when we start those (business) discussions.?

Mitchell strongly disagrees. He says making a new stadium sustainable for the Tiger-Cats is all about finances and revenue streams, including operating and management arrangements.

“Every revenue stream has to come into play,? Mitchell said.

“It’s proven over and over again ... that the tenant and the manager of a facility have to be on the same page and, ultimately, that is one person.

“That is one organization that is managing the facility and owning the team.?

Fenn, the man in the middle, also disagrees with Eisenberger.

He says his terms of reference as a facilitator are clear that the stadium location is the key issue, but that finding a way out of the impasse necessarily means talking about how business operations are structured.

“There would clearly be an implication for how investments are made, how facilities are managed ... how they would be organized,? Fenn said.

“That would quite legitimately be part of the conversations.?

For his part, city manager Chris Murray argues that the two sets of talks are not in conflict because the proposed agreement with Katz (pronounced “Kates?) won’t go before council until the end of August, presumably long after discussions with the Ticats are wrapped up.

Regardless, it’s hard to escape the impression that the city is either trying to apply pressure to or do an end-run around the franchise.

The buzz coming out of the meetings with Fenn has not been good. Positions are still polarized.

The Cats still don’t want to move to the west harbour and the city doesn’t want to build elsewhere.

Meanwhile, rumours are flying around that Eisenberger is hinting he may have a new buyer for the Cats up his sleeve.

Mitchell is well aware of those rumblings, which, reputedly, also made the rounds at Eisenberger’s recent hush-hush $500-a-ticket election fundraiser.

Be that as it may, Mitchell says the team is not for sale. Nobody has approached owner Bob Young with a purchase offer. And Young doesn’t intend to put it on the market.

That’s important to bear in mind because the Katz group is certainly being coy about whether they’re interested in acquiring the Cats.

Asked directly at yesterday’s media conference, Edmonton Oilers president Patrick LaForge, representing Katz’s group, refused to give a yes-or-no answer.

“I’m fascinated by how all this turns out, but I’d be hard-pressed to put ourselves in the middle of this,? he said.

Fascination is the word for it. The stadium debate has plainly undergone a seismic shift.

Andrew Dreschel’s commentary appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

http://www.hamiltonspectator.com/pdfs/20100630/A13.pdf

If the Cats are, in his own words "the worst investment that Bob Young has ever made" why would hold onto it?

Hypothetically speaking, because at this point no offer has been made, why would they hold onto this money pit? Wouldn't you unload it to the first person you see?

I think Bob made some mistakes turning this over to Mitchell but people make investments for a variety of reasons and you are clearly taking Bob's words out of context, there would not be any TigerCats if Young had not been prepared to live with the losses for six years.

It is not an excuse to undermine a process that is being paid by the city tax payers.

IMO Eisenberger has taken a dirty situation and made it unbearable and if some of the statements reported are true could be liable for damaging Bob Young's business and if HOSTCO has any plan B, I am certain they will move on it. Nobody is going to want to be party of something like this, not Young, not the CFL and probably not the Pan-Am people.

Looks to me that Eisenberger, and the cabal of Aldermen and women who follow him, have basically thrown Mr. Young and the Tiger-Cats under the bus, politically speaking. Meanwhile, another raft of expropriation notices for the West Harbor Stadium Precinct have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. More citizens to be displaced at a huge cost, with narry a shovel in the ground. If Fenn is irked, HOSTCO must be livid at the dithering by Hamilton Council. What a rediculous way to run the Corporation of the City of Hamilton. A classic example of what not to do to suceed. If I was Mr. Young, the gloves would come off, fight fire with fire. Katz, and his group are like the "Borg", they suck the revenue out of anything and everything they touch. Welcome to Hamilton, the land that Oz forgot. Welcome to the "Twilight Zone".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-r8DLHkDANY

Anyone over 50 has seen this all before, a treat dangled in front of the public only to have it snatched away again by municipal myopic meatheads (no disrespect :slight_smile: ). Not to be too cliche but "It's déjà vu all over again" folks...good luck.

That includes me. no disrespect? to Rob Reiner?

The say Archie called his lazy son-in-law that

because he was “dead from the neck up.?

Not to be too cliche but "It's déjà vu all over again" folks...good luck.

There are just a few things I would like to point out about the Perry Lefko article quoted in the first post to this thread.

Attendance figures at IWS from last season:

Wed Jul 01 Toronto 30 Hamilton 17 23,211
Sat Jul 18 Winnipeg 13 Hamilton 25 24,292
Fri Jul 31 BC 18 Hamilton 30 20,103
Sat Aug 08 Edmonton 21 Hamilton 28 19,206
Mon Sep 07 Toronto 15 Hamilton 34 30,293
Fri Sep 18 Calgary 17 Hamilton 24 19,448
Fri Sep 25 Montreal 42 Hamilton 8 22,083
Mon Oct 12 Winnipeg 38 Hamilton 28 19,562
Sat Oct 31 Saskatchewan 6 Hamilton 24 24,586
Sun Nov 15 BC 34 Hamilton 27 27,430

http://cfl.ca/schedule/year/2009/time_zone/0

Looks like attendances at IWS have been above 20,000 more often than not lately.

Bzzzt! Wrong again. The Ticats had a 9-8-1 record in 2004.

I've always thought of Perry as an ok guy but attention to detail never was one of his strengths I've noticed. Good info BYF.

That's for sure. In his Eastern Conference preview he talked about Titus Ryan returning kicks for the Bombers this season and said that Odell Willis is a deep threat in Calgary. :roll: The mistakes were corrected after they were pointed out.