Bob Young's Decision

Published on August 9, 2010 9:02 PM by dbo.

A lot of coverage from today on the events of the past 4 days. Not too much yet on the ramifications from Bob Young’s announcement that he has pulled all and any offers of contributing to a Pan-Am Stadium off the table.

Sadly, this situation just keeps getting worse. The optimists that think that Hamilton will retain the Ti-Cats with a new owner at a West Harbour Stadium while Bob Young will take another team into Quebec or the Maritimes have a lot to hope for before that is possible.

I believe Bob Young is completely rational in his beliefs. He doesn’t want to leave a Tiger-Cat team that survives on owner subsidies and he believes a west harbour home will do that as that is what the surveys and experts have told him. Hamilton in the past 30+ years has been the benefactors of owners that covered the losses (Harold Ballard, Bob Young) and suffered with others that cut the team to the bone in order to try to stem the bleeding. Mr. Young wants to end the reign of both types of owners so the future of the Tiger-Cats is never in doubt.

Bob Young knows that before he can turn over the team to someone else, the team has to be on solid financial footing, which means a solid season ticket base, an average around 25,000 fans per game through good and bad times, increased ticket prices and other revenue streams to compete with where the league is going. He won’t risk himself and his team over a location he doesn’t believe in. There appears to be nothing that can be done to the West Harbour plan that will change his mind, contrary to my hopes. It must be a hard thing to make a decision that may result in the end of the thing you are caretaker of, though it appears in Bob’s perspective a better decision to bring a close to over 100 years of history than keep it on life-support.

If the team leaves or folds, getting another isn’t so simple. Even with a proper-sized stadium in West Harbour, a new franchise brings new costs in an expansion fee, a team starting from scratch that will likely lack support from Hamiltonians until a winner is produced, no ancillary revenue streams or stadium management opportunities plus the list of concerns about the location the Ti-Cats have raised. It certainly is not a slam dunk decision for an owner. The Ottawa situation reflects the difficulty in finding the proper ownership with a business plan that they believe can work. The last attempt in Ottawa with only football revenue streams did not work.

Hamilton certainly has not proven itself as strong supporters of their team. I empathize with them over some of the teams that have been fielded there, but seasons with crowds of 12,000 or 15,000 will not cut it for any new owner either. Any new owner will want to participate in the Grey Cup rotation, and will evaluate whether the new stadium will allow hosting a Grey Cup as well as whether Hamiltonians will support the Grey Cup, the last one they hosted at Ivor Wynne Stadium being a terrible disappointment and a loss to the organizers. Ticket prices have remained low due to the economic situation of the city, more reason for the Tiger-Cats to expand their fan base across the region.

No, philanthropists don’t come along to spend their money on football teams and that is what is needed unless the situation around the Ti-Cats changes. It is an unfortunate fact that the Ti-Cat home will cost public money and a public/private partnership to stabilize the team’s finances. It is happening across the league and Hamilton should be no different but perhaps the team is not worth that arrangement to the city.

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Bob Young's Decision was published on August 9, 2010 9:02 PM by dbo.

725 words.

This article is categorized under Stadiums and tagged with hamilton and pan-am-stadium.

Two Responses to “Bob Young's Decision”

  1. My father John W Loaring of Windsor was a 1936 Olympics medalist, a triple gold medal Commonwealth games athlete, and a Pan-Am games competitor. I have been to at least one Grey Cup game with him and his friends. He and Joe Kroll are in the Windsor area Sports Halls of Fame together. I believe my brother G R John Loaring has attempted with friends to get a team in the London Windsor area. I have been a life-long CFL supporter, Ottawa RoughRiders when I lived in Windsor (I even worked some summers for Tucker Electric, whose pride was Whit Tucker), and then transferring my allegiance to the TigerCats when I moved to Burlington some 40 years ago. I am 62 years old. My younger son lives in the Hamilton core and loves the TigerCats. Last year he took me to a game for my birthday. When he was just a young boy he came with us to games: he would run to the end-zone for every convert to try to catch the ball. I have been a season ticket holder, but I gave them up when I had to work Sundays. I have not seen a good reason for playing on the mountain, or a reason for not playing on the Bay. I can think of reasons for NOT playing on the mountain: Not in the heart and soul of the city. Not as accessible (at least perceived as such, to some degree) to out of city fans. Hidden away on the mountain: place the stadium where there is WOW factor: showcase the sport. I can think of reasons for playing on the Bay. Beautiful location: WOW factor: it becomes a special event to attend a game. It makes great TV. Even at the Argos games, even though they aren't really on the lake, the camera pans across to sailboats on the lake. The harbour in Hamilton is very well-used by boats of all descriptions. I often cycle around the Bay from Burlington. In fact I could easily ride my bike to a harbour game, descending the steps at the high-level bridge and riding the Bay front trail. The Bay area is inhabited by otters, swans, Canada geese, cormorants, ducks: it's beautiful. A stadium on the Bay would be Hamilton's Jewel in the Crown. SHOWCASE THE SPORT: don't hide it away on the mountain!!! Hamilton City Council knows best where to locate the stadium: they live in Hamilton. It is difficult NOT to conclude that our illustrious owner, by choosing the MOST ILLOGICAL SITE, and by manufacturing an ultimatum, is in fact harbouring some hidden agenda. I cannot figure this one, that's for sure: it's a lot of nonsense. I will certainly not attend a TigerCats game on the mountain, should you go there, and I will have to swallow hard to support the league going forward if my Cats steal away to some other city.

    By David Loaring on August 13, 2010 8:06 AM

  2. @David - that is quite a family history.

    Let me be clear that I hold no influence on where the stadium will be built. City council has selected, voted on and reaffirmed West Harbour so you should have no fear over ("should you go there") cfldb causing a stadium to be built on the East Mountain site.

    I play both sides of this issue with the hope of getting over one site vs the other but building into West Harbour the benefits of other alternatives. I can support West Harbour, but not without a plan that says exactly how it will work. The city has chosen a location, but have no plan that I can find. When issues with the site are raised, they respond they will deal with them later. When alternatives to address those issues are proposed, they attack them from every possible political play possible instead of laying out their plan to counter concerns.

    In short, the city of Hamilton has done the worst job possible in communicating any information about their West Harbour plan (because, in my opinion, they don't have a plan, only a location). This is unacceptable of a municipality the size of Hamilton dealing with a project of this size.

    By dbo on August 13, 2010 1:31 PM