Just a quick reminder of the (not) very nice things that Doug Brown said about Steeltown and Ivor Wynne on August 1st in a newspaper column that he (presumably) wrote. (See especially the "red" comment in the fifth paragraph). All I can say Doug, is that URINE for a tough time from all Box H fans. Hopefully we'll get on his case enough that he'll be feeling very FLUSHED at least.
Tue Aug 1 2006
THEY say to never kick a man when he's down. Good advice, but in this instance you have to call 'em like you see 'em, and on Friday morning before the game at breakfast time, I saw a two-page insert in the Hamilton Spectator that advertised "I'D RATHER BE 1 AND 5 THAN FROM WINNIPEG."
My immediate thought for the Hamilton Spectator was "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?" Of course the question now is whether they would rather be 1 and 6 than from Winnipeg, but that really isn't the point of this story.
Drawing from my experiences in the city and of the facilities in Hamilton over the last six years, I can confidently say I would rather be 1 and 6 in Winnipeg than from Canada's version of Steeltown. Having missed last year's trip to Hamilton due to a foot injury (there is a God), this year, I was once again disappointed to see that a lot of things have not changed. The Hamilton "International" airport, while always at the forefront of technology, still has not managed to bridge the gap between the terminal and where the plane stops taxi-ing. Simply from the perspective of transportation, I can't see how anyone would prefer to live in a city where if you need to get somewhere in a prudent manner, you have to drive to another city (Toronto) to catch a flight.
And if you thought Winnipeg's downtown needs a metropolitan makeover, visit Hamilton and it will cure you of all your misgivings. Aside from the charm of shwarma and gyro shops every single block and the biker boys' rally on Hess and King streets, Hamilton is a proverbial ghost town. This is the only road city I travel to in Canada where my eating sites are not pre-determined and sequenced out. Your best bet for lunch could quite possibly be the food fair at the mall, and it will cost you a $10 cab ride just to find a Keg.
Aside from the condition of some of the facilities, the Hamilton organization is one of the best-managed clubs in the CFL. Tiger-Cat owner Bob Young could be the most brilliant sales and marketing prodigy to ever land a franchise in this league. If the man can place more than 27,000 fans in the seats for a team that is currently not catching any breaks, once they get on track the fans will be breaking down the doors for a seat at Ivor Wynne -- but it certainly won't be any of the players from the visiting teams.
Winnipeg hasn't exactly had the best reputation when it comes to the luxury and accommodation of our visitors' dressing rooms, but at least we fixed ours up before Hamilton did -- and we are a publicly owned team. In my opinion, the locker-room at Ivor Wynne is the most abysmal facility on the circuit right now. Nothing has changed in this concrete labyrinth in the six years I have been in the CFL except for the fact that they painted tiger stripes on the walls. The place smells like urine on a good day, there is no hint of air- conditioning, and the soap is dispensed with the help of Gatorade bottles. They actually have portable fans set up, like the kind you can buy at Wal-Mart, to waft the stench evenly throughout the room.
While I am a big fan of the Field Turf they have installed at Ivor Wynne (as it is almost identical to ours), I noticed something in the second half of last week's game that was a little disappointing. I'm not sure if the conditions were conveyed accurately through the television broadcast or not, but it was dark on the field -- as in there wasn't as much lighting as there should have been. Since our offence decided to hog all the time of possession, I actually had a chance to look at the four lighting poles responsible for illuminating the field. Each pole holds 40 bulbs and in the fourth quarter I actually counted only 13 out of 40 bulbs working on one lighting pole, and about half on another.
Hence, you can see why when I read a removable insert in the Hamilton Spectator that says "I WOULD RATHER BE 1 AND 5 THAN FROM WINNIPEG," I get a little confused. The city and the stadium have a long way to go before their britches get big enough to look down on a Prairie town in such a fashion. Maybe somebody should point out to the Hamilton Spectator that just because Toronto is less than an hour away, it doesn't make you look any better.
Doug Brown, always a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears Tuesdays in the Free Press.