Thursday 5 August 2010

"The Riders of the East"

If you attended tonight's East Mountain rally at Carmen's, the title of this post will not sound odd to you. If you did not, I'll explain it a little further down.

As you can probably guess, I attended the event at Carmen's in support of the East Mountain stadium location. I have long said that I don't care where the Cats play, I will get to a game. However, that doesn't mean I don't have a preference.

My preference is for the East Mountain.

Tonight's event was something to behold. CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon, Carmen's founder and chairman Peter Mercanti and Tiger-Cat Caretaker Bob Young all gave speeches.

When I entered Carmen's, I was greeted by a lovely young lady who told me and my two colleagues to take the package that the Tiger-Cats were handing out. It was a business plan full of information. One particular point stuck out to me more than the others. It reads:
The Club has searched for examples from across the world (my emphasis) and has yet to uncover a relevant and documentable example of a facility of this type and magnitude of annual use having any measurable effect on urban revitalization.
I don't know how that reads to you, but to me it is a very powerful quote.

Mark Cohon was the first to speak, but before he did so, the Cats played the "This is Our League" video that I posted back in March. After that video aired, the Commissioner spoke. He talked about what the Tiger-Cats mean to the CFL, what the CFL means to Canada, and how well the CFL is doing right now. It was during his speech that Cohon uttered the words that I used to title this article. He said that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats could become to Southern Ontario what the Saskatchewan Roughriders are to their province.

After Commissioner Cohon finished, Peter Mercanti gave a great speech from the perspective of the taxpayer. Before my more cynical commenters say anything, I know that Mr. Mercanti and Carmen's will benefit from a stadium on the East Mountain; no one has to point that out. Be that as it may, when he spoke about how Copps Coliseum was built without a tenant, it hit home. Peter Mercanti's point was that we don't want to repeat the mistakes of the past.

The final speaker was the Caretaker himself, Mr. Bob Young. Bob Young is not a fiery guy, by most accounts, and tonight was no different. He demonstrated the cool demeanour he has presented since taking over as Tiger-Cats owner in 2003. Having said that, Bob Young spoke tonight with a passion. He spoke about his family, about football and about the city. Bob Young spoke like a fan, and he had everyone in attendance in the palm of his hand. When he first arrived on stage, he was given a standing ovation. When he left after his speech was over, he was given another standing ovation. He spoke with clarity, with sincerity and with humility. If nothing else comes of this, Bob Young showed that he is as classy an individual as there is. He spoke about how much he loves the debate that is going on and how, despite their differences, he respects people who disagree with him. Bob Young showed tonight what real leadership is.

The final presentation of the night was another video. Words cannot describe how great this video was. Once it is available on the Internet, I will do everything in my power to post it. No matter what side of the debate you reside on, this video will captivate you.

There are few events that occur in a person's life that seem special. Electricity was in the air; this felt like a special moment in the history of this great city. When we look back on this moment years from now, many might see tonight's event as a turning point in Hamilton's history.

I walked into tonight's event knowing that I preferred the East Mountain. I left convinced that it is the best place to put the stadium. I now feel comfortable uttering the following words:

I Support the East Mountain as the New Home of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

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