Mayor Eisenberger is quite right that Stadiums are all about community. And for the record I have great respect for the Mayor and every other politician who serves our community. Elected public service positions are difficult and not very rewarding jobs.
But he is very wrong when he suggests that he is surprised by our position. While we have attempted to work with the City on their proposed West Harbour location there have been no credible attempts to financially analyze the economics of either the City or the Tiger-Cats running a successful business from that site.
We have been -very- clear with the Mayor and his staff that unless they could come up with plans that they had yet to show us, to address the concerns we (and others) have raised, then a sports stadium would not be a good use of that location.
The West Harbour is a great location, and should be put to more valuable use than it is currently being used for, but it is not a good retail location. And at the end of the day sporting events are a retail business they need to be accessible for them to work and the West Harbour just does not have the access.
Statement by Fred Eisenberger, Mayor of the City of Hamilton
May 06, 2010
The City’s involvement in the Pan Am Games is an important initiative. We’ve always believed that this is about building community and leveraging this investments with our many other investments. This is about more than just a two-week sporting event, and more than a professional football franchise. This is about the community, and community development. This is about what’s best for the people of Hamilton – today and into the future. To respond to some of the concerns raised earlier today in the media and by one of our partners, I want to reassure the community that we are moving full steam ahead on the West Harbour site, and we will not waiver from that because it is best for Hamilton. The community is behind the West Harbour site. The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, the Jobs and Prosperity Collaborative, and hundreds of private citizens and business leaders are behind it because it is best for the community. The West Harbour stadium location is best situated for people to access the stadium by taking public transit including GO Transit and eventually the Rapid Transit line planned for the downtown. A West Harbour stadium location is within short walking distance of hundreds of existing parking spaces which can be used at no additional cost to the taxpayers. As for the Hamilton Tiger Cats, I want the public to know that we are committed to ensuring that the necessary conditions are put in place in the council-approved West harbour stadium to help the TigerCats achieve success. We have been working diligently to find common ground with the TigerCats so today’s revelation from Owner Bob Young that the team will not play at a West Harbour Stadium is disappointing to say the least. Bob Young and the TigerCats are on record as saying they would work with the City on “any site?. Up to now, we have been proceeding on that basis. At the same time, it is important for the public to know that he Hamilton Tiger Cats is a tenant that the taxpayers subsidize to the tune of $1.3 million per year. The West Harbour site was confirmed by council two years ago and was part of the Pan Am bid book. It was reconfirmed by council 90 days ago. Statements made by Bob Young only talk about what is best for the Tiger Cats organization. There is no mention of the community. Bob Young needs to understand that the community is important and the purpose of this project is community building. Bob Young’s statement that there has been no collaboration is puzzling. Scott Mitchell has been a member of the Pan Am Advisory Group since the very beginning. As recently as two weeks ago, I met with Scott Mitchell of the Hamilton Tiger Cats and we re-affirmed that we would continue talking and working together. It is hard to reconcile this with the statements made today by Mr. Young. It is important to know that the Pan Am HostCo has imposed a May 17 deadline for site verification and as a key partner, the City is required to meet that deadline. I assure you that we will meet that deadline. I want everyone to know that progress on the West Harbour site is well advanced. Today, I would like to announce that, together with the City Manager and the City’s Pan Am staff team, I will be hosting a Pan Am Community Engagement Session – which will include the TigerCats and other stakeholders – to review the benefits of the West Harbour site, and the long-term benefits of revitalizing the West Harbour precinct. We’ll be providing more details as plans are firmed up. -30-