Tale of Three Pieces

What the hell? Seems like the city is really chatting about replacing an innovation center with a football stadium. Just to put this in perspective we are planning to remove 20 acres of research facilities and job incubators and replace it with a block of concrete that will be used 10 time a year. The symbolism of crippling a University research center for a money losing stadium is profound.

The stadium will never be profitable for the people of Hamilton. It was supposed to be built for the Athletics portion of the Pan American Games. We have noodled away the crown jewel of the Pan American games. Now we scramble to find a way to give a failing entertainment company a $160 million dollar bail out. The only way this can help the people of the hammer is if the stadium doubles as a commuter GO station that can be used every day.

So let’s look at the Aberdeen and Longwood choice. The map is made from best guesses as all the conversation is going on behind closed doors and not even council will know about it until the day they vote. A and L site could be really close to GO transit and reasonably close to proposed LRT. I actually think a GO station near the old VIA rail station or even covering Aberdeen would be a useful legacy for the city. Commuters could drive in from Ancaster, Dundas, West Hamilton to connect themselves to the GO. This still is not as good as the Kay Drage Park location as there commuters could drive up to the GO,  or walk from the proposed Rapid transit. The A and L site is going to cost heaps of money to purchase. This land is all ready to go for other developments.

Here is how the three sites compare on a map. Best location for rapid transit Kay Drage, A and L, then West Harbour. Best location for highway visuals A and L, Kay Drage, then West Harbour. Least traffic congestion Kay Drage (would require ramps from the 403), A and L, then West Harbour. Least damaging place to put 5000 parking spaces Kay Drage (other sites would be tragic). Best site for dinosaurs stuck on a plan from a previously FAILED Commonwealth Games bid West Harbour. Chat from 2003.

The best choice without a doubt is to build GO and LRT and let another city try and bail out the entertainment franchise.

Let’s Drage the Stadium Thing On and On and On?

I was very excited when Hamilton was announced as the venue for the Athletics (track and field) portion of the Pan American Games. Many years ago I represented Canada at the Pan Am Juniors in Barquisimeto Venezuela. I recently volunteered for the entire month of February at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver  (most of the pictures in the right column are from that trip). I was amazed that Hamilton had scored something so near and dear to my heart. I began taking Spanish lessons right away, with the goal  of volunteering for Pan Am athletics in 2015.

The stadium was always supposed to be in the west harbour. It was written in the Toronto Pan Am  bid book well before 2010. The “location beside the railway tracks” has been publicly labelled as stadium territory a long ways back. In a tragic turn of events the stadium location became bogged down in local politics and Hamilton missed the deadline set by the Toronto (official host city), and lost the crown jewel of the Pan Am games. It is unimaginable. It now appears that the stadium itself is in jeopardy as the Feds and Queen’s park will not fund a tenant-less stadium. The Tiger Cats have made it clear that they will not be going to a stadium in the west harbour. It makes sense because cats don’t really like water. City council promptly voted for the harbour site, and now the Ti Cats are planning to leave Hamilton. The stadium plan will leave with them.

Conflict Of Interest

I will declare that I have a potential conflict of interest here. My family owns three properties on Dundurn street within walking distance of the my proposed stadium. One of those properties is The Staircase Cafe Theatre. The Tiger Cats play a sport called Canadian Football. A few Canadians watch this sport, but no one plays it recreationally. The ten home games each season will make no difference to The Staircase.  If we were to fill The Staircase every Ti Cat game, that would be a mere ten times per year. There are 355 other days of the year to lose money.

Present Situation

The city has wanted to put a stadium where the rail yard is for a long time. Those hopes were dashed when CN sold the yards to someone other than the city. So now the city has to make do with a stadium  beside the railway tracks for a long time.  The cities choice is a  40 acre parcel of land close to the harbour, but it is really beside a busy train yard. Resident’s private homes will need to be expropriated. Commercial property will need to be purchased. Some dirty land will be reclaimed.  The closest proposed light rail stop may be as far as one kilometer away. Buses can go there for sure. Go transit cannot have a stop at this location. There is NO parking. The benefits and drawbacks have been discussed ad nauseum.   The key point is that the Tiger Cats won’t go there, and therefore higher levels of government will not  fund this location.

Proposed stadium 40 acres.

The only potential tenant for the proposed stadium plays in the  80 year old Ivor Wynne Stadium. Ivor Wynne is quite ironically a Commonwealth games legacy stadium. Ivor Wynne  is on the bus route and proposed light rail line,  has NO parking, and is no where near a  GO transit line.  The only tenant is losing money hand over fist at this location (or is it because no one plays or watches Canadian Football?). The city funds this location to the tune of at least $120000 per Tiger Cats game. Meow.

Ivor Wynne 15 acres (stadium and practise field).


Modest Proposal

Let’s put the stadium on Kay Drage Park. This park is a parcel of land laying between the 403 Highway and the rail way tracks. Kay Drage Park hosts a wooded lot for transients at one end and some soccer fields (more than a million Canadians play soccer regularly) at the other end. Move the sports fields to the proposed West Harbour Stadium location. There is about  30 acres available to work with. The parcel of land is long and somewhat narrow. It just depends whether you like it long and narrow or short and wide.  Design it to look  like the nearby Gothic basilica and call it The Cathedral. Here are some of the perks:

  • No land needs to be expropriated.
  • No land needs to be purchased.
  • Quick walk from proposed rapid transit.
  • GO Train stop right beside the stadium is possible.
  • Build over rail tracks to increase space and improve local living conditions.
  • It is near many bus routes.
  • Thousands of parking spaces.
  • 403 highway exposure.
  • 403 highway access is possible.
Proposed stadia Kay Drage Park (yellow) Railway (red).
Stadium, some parking GO station fit here (20 acres)
Additional 1000 parking spots here (9 acres).

This will be a true legacy stadium. With a GO station and plenty of parking the location will be used every day of the year, instead a of a mere ten times per year by an arcane sports franchise that may not survive the rise of the MLS.

P.S. I am not a Bob Young basher at all. I am a happy Linux user and am forever grateful for what Mr. Young and Red Hat Linux have done for the open source community.