Sports

West Harbour: Cost Savings and Increased Spinoff

By Jason Leach
Published January 26, 2011

Dear Council,

As we (hopefully) approach the end of this prolonged Pan Am Stadium discussion, I would like to add my thoughts to the pile of emails and calls I'm sure you're receiving, as well as present some financial food for thought. You're busy, so I'll keep it short and sweet.

1. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats are paying nothing for this stadium. It's fine to ask, "Is Hamilton better without them?", but that doesn't really matter. Is Hamilton better without SISO? What about US Steel?

If our logic for funding decisions is now based on whether or not Hamilton is better with or without something, expect a lineup around the block at City Hall with very worthwhile organizations and companies looking for a similar free handout.

2. If the Cats aren't going to pay substantial money into the stadium, I think Hamilton council is well within your rights to tell them where the stadium will go. As we all know, the spinoff effects at the West Harbour are far greater than Ivor Wynne.

We need this seed money to get the land clean-up underway at the West Harbour so folks like Whitestar, Molinaro and others can start building condos, shops and increasing our tax base and image.

To allow the Cats to pick the site and pay nothing is corporate welfare at its absolute worst. I expect more from my proud city.

3. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm seeing substantial cost savings in the order of $22-$25 million that can be had simply by moving the stadium to the West Harbour. Here is the breakdown:

On top of this money, which was reported publicly and discussed by council on Monday, there are unknown monies to be had in the form of increased tax revenue at BOTH the newly redeveloped Ivor Wynne site and the new developments that will take place at the West Harbour site.

The Ivor Wynne site has a ton of potential as a new, vibrant, mixed-use community that can enhance the surrounding residential neighbourhoods and even be designed with with a new main street.

This is a new suburban street built near Portland, surrounded by town homes, walkups, single homes, lofts and community park space along an LRT line. We are planning an LRT stop at Scott Park. The potential is enormous:

Orenco Station, Portland (Image Credit: Oregonlive.com)
Orenco Station, Portland (Image Credit: Oregonlive.com)

I'm confident that millions more can be reaped in taxes from both of these sites by simply moving the stadium proposal to the West Harbour.

The fact that the Cats aren't paying anything would be easier to digest for people like me at a West Harbour solution, because I realize the massive redevelopment and spinoff potential that can be gained at both sites. The public money can be viewed as an investment into Hamilton, instead of merely a corporate handout with very little public benefit.

Even if the new developments at both sites could bring in $5-$10 million per year in taxes (a wild guess), suddenly we are looking at a total of $22-$25 million saved up front, with an additional $50-$100 million in new taxes over ten years.

Maybe I'm way high. Fine. Calculate a modest $2 million per year in taxes from both sites redeveloped. That's still $20 million over ten years.

The option we appear close to approving will result in no redevelopment at the harbour and very little at Ivor Wynne, due to the massive size of the stadium, parking lot and associated community use.

Finally, what about the Velodrome? This could be the crown jewel in our Pan Am bid. I was quite disturbed on Monday to hear City Finance Manager Rob Rossini warn you that the cost for the velodrome will be much higher than the $14 million number that has been thrown around, yet not give you an indication of what the cost will be.

The $22-$27 million in savings I've outlined above, in conjunction with possible extra money from the province and hopefully (not holding my breath) the Cats can satisfy a West Harbour stadium, and a permanent velodrome, and spur tax-generating redevelopment at both Ivor Wynne and West Harbour sites.

Some of you ran on very vocal platforms of fiscal responsibility in this recent election. Please make the right decision for Hamilton, and our tax base in this situation.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.

45 Comments

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Read Comments

[ - ]

By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 11:52:49

Thought this read was interesting citing Joe Friedrich, Professor Emeritus of Economics at College of St. Benedict/St. John's University in the US:

"What would be the financial benefit to Minnesota taxpayers of paying for the majority of a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings? The economist in Friedrich will tell you there really is none. “Economists — except for those who have a vested interest — pretty much cannot really find a benefit/cost analysis to support a publicly financed stadium, to the state or the government interest that pays for it,” said Friedrich, a St. Cloud resident and professor emeritus of economics at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict (he retired 18 months ago). “On the standpoint of strictly economic costs to the state, I literally can’t find a study that comes up with a positive return.” ...

http://www.sctimes.com/article/20110123/...

(originally located this information on the Field of Schemes site)

Comment edited by HamiltonFan on 2011-01-26 12:00:18

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By PeterF (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:46:40

@HamiltonFan

I agree with the assertion that stadiums have little to no economic impact on a city except for people that have a vested interest but if a city decides to build it anyway then the location can make a bad finacial decision even worse. Jason's article clearly points this out. From a purely financial standpoint WH beats IWS. If the cats gave up all the concerns about visibility, access parking etc. at IWS, then WH is at he very least equal to IWS as a location for them.

Comment edited by PeterF on 2011-01-26 12:50:00

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:54:29

Jason certainly makes a deliberate argument for WH I will say, an excellent read. However at this point without an independent proper scientific analysis, I think the case is not air tight that WH is superior in an all rounded analysis taking into consideration many aspects including financial, social, psychological etc. As a use of public funds if a stadium is going to be built or rebuilt regardless.

That being said, if a stadium is going to be built or rebuilt come heck or high water mainly with public funds, I can see the benefits to both sites. However I am starting to lean towards WH since it would be a new stadium and I like that better. Maybe Young will get on board and if he doesn't well, stadiums don't make much sense economically anyways as the economic professor indicates, so maybe it's best to use it to clean up the Rheem site and brownfield and figure out the rest later.

Comment edited by HamiltonFan on 2011-01-26 12:57:58

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By nobrainer (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:56:37

HamiltonFan, I read your comment 3 times and I have no idea what you just said.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By highwater (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:58:53

Nice try with the concern trolling HF, but we all know that if BY changed his mind about WH tomorrow you'd be going "Analysis, schmanalysis! Go Cats!"

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 12:59:00

Just added a tad to it nobrainer, maybe that will make it a tad clearer. Sort of a fuzzy day for me.

highwater, I have to admit I do love that phrase "concern trolling." Honestly, I do.

Comment edited by HamiltonFan on 2011-01-26 13:00:09

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By highwater (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 13:01:14

Oh and I love you HF, in my own little way.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 13:05:39

Thanks highwater, I am open to change. Just have to keep a lid on the bipolar tendencies in me that creep out from time to time. ;)

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By MattM (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 13:08:38

HamiltonFan singing praises of the West Harbour?

My head hurts.

Sincerely, WH Gonzo.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By nobrainer (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 13:10:01

If we win over HamiltonFan, can Bob Young be far behind? :)

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By drb (registered) - website | Posted January 26, 2011 at 13:11:19

HF, I am glad to know that you are concerned about our psychological well-being. I know that this thing has made me a little nuts! ;) Maybe some municipally funded group therapy is in order...

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 13:19:04

I love going to the games and watching football, that will always remain with me. My head hurts though as well from this stadium situation and want it resolved one way or another. Fortunately this happen very shortly.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By jason (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 13:22:36

unless I'm completely missing something, I think it's great that HF is open to adjusting his viewpoint in the face of well presented evidence. That was really my intent with this entry. I could have sent a letter begging council not to waste money on this, but that ship has sailed. So, if we're going to spend it, let's put it where we get the biggest bang for our buck. Even the biggest BY fan can surely see the benefit in this to the city and the team. What team would rather play in half a new stadium on a land-locked site instead of a new stadium surrounded by new condo/shopping developments, and with stunning views over the harbour?

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By CdR (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 13:23:08

As a taxpayer of Hamilton (Waterdown), I would likely attend a game at WH and would never attend a game at IWS. But I would definetely visit a redeveloped WH site as the author envisions. City of Hamilton has to try to draw the people into the city (from Flamborough Dundas and Ancaster), and a revamped IWS will definitely not encourage this. I would see zero return on my taxes for IWS...

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By jason (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 13:23:30

Maybe some municipally funded group therapy is in order...

A pencil toss will do the trick for me.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By MattM (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 13:30:18

Kinda scary to think about what objects might have been hurtled across the chambers if the vote hadn't gone in the way of the Bob's.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By jason (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 13:32:12

So we have die-hard Cat fans, suburban ratepayers, downtown residents and WH fans all agreeing on something. Why can't council see the obvious benefits to spending this money at the WH? I can understand someone who wants nothing to do with this entire project, but for those who see the stadium happening, it appears that we all share the same goal - put it where it makes the most sense financially. If the Cats were offering to pay 50% of the IW cost, I realize that would trump my ROI arguments, but the fact is, as of right now they aren't. So why is council doing this??

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By jason (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 13:33:25

Kinda scary to think about what objects might have been hurtled across the chambers if the vote hadn't gone in the way of the Bob's.

Colemans video equipment would be my guess

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By drb (registered) - website | Posted January 26, 2011 at 13:34:50

"A pencil toss will do the trick for me."

It's an event at the upcoming Pan Am games!

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By drb (registered) - website | Posted January 26, 2011 at 13:47:17

Jason, the concept of financial responsibility left the framework of the debate when BB and BY held their news conference. BB then made one statement at council saying that this is about keeping the Cats in Hamilton. His comment about not raising taxes was just pandering. Emotional coersion only works until the bills need to be paid.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 13:48:26

"So why is council doing this??"

I think there are a lot of issues going on behind the scenes that no one fully knows of except a few. I think there is a fear factor that BY will take this team out of Hamilton and the possible backlash that might come with this from a certain segment of people.

It's easy for people who don't care about football or Canadian Football or the Grey Cup to say "who cares". But there are people who do care and these people vote. And some who don't care about the TigerCats and will never go to a game care about the stadium debate because they see other rewards for the WH, downtown etc. So even these people don't want to see the TigerCats leave if it means no WH benefit. At least some of them.

We just don't know what BY will do. He might be more bipolar than I am and that's scary!

Comment edited by HamiltonFan on 2011-01-26 13:49:34

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By George (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 13:55:50

http://www.bramptonguardian.com/sports/a...

City of Brampton councillors agreed with a staff report that said Brampton couldn’t commit to such a costly infrastructure project before that deadline.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By MattM (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 13:58:16

Makes me wonder what TO2015 will do if Hamilton drops the ball and no other municipality is willing to drop a dime on it.

Comment edited by MattM on 2011-01-26 13:58:36

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By nobrainer (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 14:05:01

It'll go to Toronto like everything else...

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By highwater (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 14:17:59

Mississauga was still hot to trot for it last I heard.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By drb (registered) - website | Posted January 26, 2011 at 14:21:34

HF, I am a football fan. I love the game, be it CFL, NFL, or CIS. But I believe no matter what side of the Pan Am legacy issue you support, we are all in the minority. The majority don't care about issues facing cities. They don't vote in municipal elections, or participate in city life. BB gets that, "don't raise taxes" was a PR move.

What galls me is that the city government has set aside the amateur sport infrastructure legacy of the Pan Am Games to funnel $115 million to a corporate citizen and then gamble on the out come. This is no way to run a city.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 14:32:34

drb, that corporate citizen has clout, he owns something with the name Hamilton on it, and as well at some point when he passes on, his will might be to give money to this city, more than the $40 mill his aunt has given as a result of BY's business which spurred, as Mike Farrell indicated, further philanthropy in Hamilton towards hospitals etc.

Now I'm not saying that should mean the city should automatically just build a stadium, of course not if it doesn't make sense. But I do think the city does consider that BY does have some power because of the money he has.

Maybe BY has received bad advice, maybe it's to do with Katz/AEG, maybe he didn't care for FE etc. I don't know all the possible reasons. But right now he doesn't seem like playing out of WH and that is a problem of sorts for the city to figure out what to do.

Comment edited by HamiltonFan on 2011-01-26 14:34:46

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By drb (registered) - website | Posted January 26, 2011 at 14:54:06

HF, using hypothetical philanthropy as a way to extort public money is unethical. Any future giving is conjecture (as is predicting the future financial health of BY and his many business ventures). The same argument has been made repeatedly on RTH and it doesn't hold water with me. Giving back to a community is about the passionate belief one has for that community. I write this with all due respect to you, and to the thousands of people who give anonymously to our community every day.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By drb (registered) - website | Posted January 26, 2011 at 14:58:39

HF, I was responding to your post when you added the third paragraph. While it seems to have no bearing on the first two paragraphs, it may be a moot point depending on the outcomes of the next few days.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 15:03:04

Ok drb. As well, I was reading on a site about BY's philanthropy that he is private with what he as given. Here is the site with a sentence from the site:

"Young does not publicize his community giving but is locally known as a generous benefactor."

http://www.foreverhenderson.ca/philanthr...

Now I agree extortion of public money using a "maybe" approach to philanthropic behaviour is unethical. Is BY doing this? I don't know.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By drb (registered) - website | Posted January 26, 2011 at 15:13:47

HF, so you are really saying that BY's potential giving is on the minds of the city reps during negotiations, not that you condone such activities. And I agree, there is no evidence that BY has used philanthropy as a bargining chip.

As for his anonymous charity, good on him. :)

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 15:19:20

Just saying it might be on their minds somewhat, one would have to think any councillor in this city would know who has given large sums of money over the years and what more they might give down the road. That's why I don't totally believe everything I read from a politician in the press.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By George (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 17:05:07

HamiltonFan wrote:

Maybe BY has received bad advice, maybe it's to do with Katz/AEG, maybe he didn't care for FE etc. I don't know all the possible reasons. But right now he doesn't seem like playing out of WH and that is a problem of sorts for the city to figure out what to do.

Maybe it's Scott Mitchell who was not going about it with a co-operative approach. Sounds like he was determined to have the city "lose", with his competitive and win-at-all-costs attitude.

Comment edited by George on 2011-01-26 17:36:59

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By HamiltonFan (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 17:13:30

I have to admit George while Mitchell is the heavy and plays that role to a tee, he really isn't cut out for public speaking and knowing how to deal with politicians it seems. Captain has mentioned this on a number of occasions here and at ticats.ca and I agree with him.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 18:02:43

@ HF

The Mitchell stuff is largely based on the Drew Edwards article of course.

What I don't get is this seemingly accepted notion that Mitchell was to play the bad guy, to Bob Young's good guy.

Why don't more people question that rather than readily accepting it and mentioning it here in there in various discussions?

What was the point of adopting this bad cop role? What exactly was that supposed to accomplish?

In retrospect, that very attitude seems to have driven a wedge to create an "us" vs. "them" scenario. That killed any prospect of a co-operative and productive relationship that all partnerships thrive off of.

The city and the Tiger-Cats are partners, or at the very least, they should be.




Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 19:20:03

"The shortfall for the proposed Ivor Wynne Stadium renovation is closer to $10 million than $40 million, and the province is willing to put up the extra funding, a source tells The Spectator."

http://www.thespec.com/news/local/article/478404--stadium-shortfall-closer-to-10-million-than-40-million-source-says

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Waterdownguy (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 20:02:53

First time poster here. Like CdR, I live in Waterdown and have attended many games at IWS as a season ticket holder of the Ticats. It is clear to me that due to a flawed funding model, that no site would of worked for the Pan Am stadium including Confederation Park. It was very unrealistic from the beginning to expect the private sector to contribute $50 million towards this project. That being said, BY should of made some sort of commitment towards the capital cost, in the range of $5 to $10 million. Is that too much to ask from someone who is reported to be a billionaire.

I agree with many of the posters here, that a new stadium at WH was the best choice going forward from a City building perspective. As a financial analyst by profession, I am shocked by the ever changing numbers like most everyone else.

In my opinion, the City should of advised BY that were building the stadium at WH with a seating capacity of 25 to 30K. I have no doubt he would of come on board, given he really has no other options, let's be honest. The $50 million funding shortfall probably could of been covered by an interst free loan from the Province or Feds, amortized over the expected life of the new stadium (i.e. 80 years if history repeats). With interest rates at historic lows, the debt servicing costs probably would be manageable.

I have lost considerable respect for the Ticats on how they have acted, this coming from a team supporter and follower of the CFL. The City also disappoints me in terms of their flip flopping decisions and the lack of a proper site assessment process from the very beginning.

Have not said anything new in my post, just wanted to voice my opinion. Many thanks to RTH and the posters here, both pro and con WH. That includes you HamiltonFan, your one busy poster. The debate here has been intelligent, reasoned and well thought out. As we all know, it is sometimes hard to be proud of this City. However, if the posters here are representative of the citizens of Hamilton who are clearly becoming more engaged, I think better days for this City are not that far off.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 20:21:52

Great first post Waterdownguy. Welcome, and please, post more often.



(BTW, it's "should have" or "should've", not "should of") ;)

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By highwater (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 20:26:28

Aw geez Captain. You couldn't have given him a free pass on his first post? ;)

I will echo the other half of the Captain's post. Welcome!

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By Waterdownguy (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 21:00:19

Thanks CaptainKirk and highwater. I have been visiting RTH for several years, just too damn lazy to post until now. Unfortunately Captain, my posts will have some typos and grammatical mistakes from time to time, it is what it is I guess.

Tried to post on the CFL website in the Ticat chat section but for whatever reason it refuses to accept my registration. Find the viewpoints here more balanced as whole anyways. Will post more often. Not afraid of the grammar police but some of the posters sure scare me.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By CaptainKirk (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 21:07:54

Waterdownmguy wrote;

"my posts will have some typos and grammatical mistakes from time to time, it is what it is I guess. "

Bet I'll make more typos than you.

Didn't mean to nit pick. No biggie. "should of" is a little peeve of mine, that's all.

Wish we could hear from Katz and Ghery during this stadium debate.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By highwater (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 21:15:47

And for the love of God don't say 'loose' when you mean lose!

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By USJack (anonymous) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 21:52:33

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By jason (registered) | Posted January 26, 2011 at 22:19:15

No it wouldn't. I'm pretty sure they have the internet in Portland.

Permalink | Context

[ - ]

By jason (registered) | Posted January 27, 2011 at 10:15:59

Great link from Richard Florida today on urban stadiums:

http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post...

Permalink | Context

View Comments: Nested | Flat

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Events Calendar

Recent Articles

Article Archives

Blog Archives

Site Tools

Feeds