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.