I have been wary of actually discussing what is quickly turning into one of the most divisive issues currently being debated amongst Hamiltonians. That issue, of course, is the Pan Am Stadium.
It's not the stadium itself, but where the stadium should be located that has caused so much consternation. The city has voted on a site in the west harbour, near Bay Street and Barton Street. The Tiger-Cats are not as bullish about this area. The team believes that moving to that location would not satisfy the needs of the team and would be a lateral move from their current home, Ivor Wynne Stadium. Moving from Ivor Wynne to the west harbour would just be going from one money-losing site to another, according to the team.
The city is more concerned with revitalizing the downtown core than making sure the Tiger-Cats are a financially successful business. The city believes that putting the Pan Am Stadium in the west-harbour area would be a step in accomplishing that goal.
I understand the city's reasoning. It's not up to them to make sure that Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young makes money. The city needs to look at the bigger picture, not simply one business.
However, that does not mean that the Tiger-Cats should be forced to move to an area that isn't financially viable for them. When Bob Young bought the team in 2003, he did so with the desire to see a new stadium built for the Tiger-Cats, one that could ensure that he made some money on this venture. If the team believes that moving to the location that the city has chosen doesn't make good financial sense, then why should they move? The team needs to start making money or Bob Young might consider selling or *gasp* moving the team. At the end of the day he's a businessman, and a successful one at that. He will only accept losing money for so long before he decides it's time to move on. As of right now, the Ti-Cats and their partners do not think that they could make enough off additional revenue sources, like naming rights and parking, to make the move to the west harbour work.
While the city wants to take care of the interests of the many, the Tiger-Cats are, and should be, interested in only their own financial well-being. As much as it is not up to the city to make sure the Ti-Cats are successful, it is not up to the Ti-Cats to ensure that businesses around them are successful. Downtown revitalization is key for the city, but means nothing to the team. The team needs as many added revenue streams as they can find in order to make the team financially successful. All the secondary and tertiary off-shoots from a west-harbour stadium do not provide the Tiger-Cats with the additional revenue sources they need to become a profitable business.
Another point of contention, at least among some, seems to be the heavy-handed approach that Hamilton City Council, namely Mayor Fred Eisenberger, seems to be taking in negotiations with the Tiger-Cats regarding the location of the new stadium.
Mayor Eisenberger was quoted as saying that the Tiger-Cats should have little say in the matter because "it's a minority partnership when it comes to the Tiger-Cats." While the mayor is technically correct, for the stadium to have any sort of long-term financial viability, it would need a permanent tenant; that tenant would undoubtedly be the Ti-Cats. I think it is more than a little short-sighted for the major to be calling the Tiger-Cats' participation in the new stadium minor. It also comes off a little smug and arrogant. Not exactly the type of attitude that the mayor of the city should be showing, especially in regards to one of the city's more cherished institutions.
As I said, this is a very heated debate, especially among Tiger-Cat fans. There is currently an 80+ page thread on the Ti-Cat Fan Forum on this topic. You will find, if you decide to check out the thread, that there is a myriad of opinions. There are those that support the west-harbour site, there are those that oppose it, and there are those still who haven't quite decided what they think would be best.
This brings up the question of where I stand. I freely admit that I am part of that third group. I don't think I have enough knowledge of the situation to make an informed decision, nor do I think I am arrogant enough to make such a proclamation. The team and the city employ much more capable people than I to deal with this subject. I will leave it to them to decide the fate of the Pan Am stadium.
That's not to say I don't have opinions on the matter. While I don't like the dictatorial tactics of our city council in attempting to force the west-harbour location on the Tiger-Cats, I understand their need to look at the larger picture of a revitalized downtown core. I also understand team's need to ensure that whichever location the team goes to helps to make the team a profitable venture for owner Bob Young.
For myself, it really doesn't matter where they build a new stadium. Wherever they decide to put it matters little to me. I will make my way to that location to watch the Tabbies play. Where that location will be is currently unknown, but I would hazard a guess that it won't remain that way for much longer.
So that's my take on the whole matter. I'm sure some people will be angry about what I wrote, and some will like it. I'm not claiming to be an expert; I don't have all the information about what is best for all involved. I just went with what I found. If anyone feels the need to blast me or praise me, well, that's what the comment section is for.