New Hamilton stadium to be built at Ivor Wynne site
HAMILTON, Ont. - Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina and Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young have agreed to give up the search for a site to build a new stadium -- and simply rebuild the one they've already got.
The two made the announcement during a news conference Tuesday at Ivor Wynne Stadium, home of the CFL team. City council, which has discussed as many as five possible sites over several years of acrimonious debate, will get its chance to discuss the new proposal at its meeting on Wednesday.
Hamilton has until Feb. 1 to confirm plans for a stadium that would be used for the 2015 Pan American Games and then become the new home of the Tiger-Cats.
"The fundamental story is HostCo (organizing committee for the Pan Am Games) has given us a deadline and we respect the deadlines they've given us," said Young, who has agreed to a 20-year lease at the new stadium. "We know that this can work at this location ... The good news is we have a footprint (where) all the zoning works, all the environmental aspects work. We know that this location will work for a stadium."
The planned $115-million stadium, funded by the city and the organizing committee, would have 25,000 seats. The north stands would remain intact while the south stands would be demolished and completely rebuilt. It would use about 10 hectares -- the current stadium land, plus the land from the practice field next door and the closed-down high school across the road. Up to an estimated 1,500 parking spots would be created.
Construction would begin in 2012 with completion set for 2014.
Young said this was not the best solution for the team, but given the deadlines and budget, he had to make some concessions, primarily with access and visibility. He said he felt the site was close enough to a main access road off the Queen Elizabeth Way, and to rail lines, that they could make it work.
Ian Troop, the CEO of the 2015 Toronto Pan American Games, said in a statement that he wouldn't comment until the plan had been evaluated.
The municipalities of Mississauga and Brampton still plan to submit plans for a soccer stadium for the Pan Am Games before the Feb. 1 deadline, while Markham has withdrawn its expression of interest.
Troop said the deadline for submission of plans won't be extended.
Bratina said that proposed future Light Rail Transit in Hamilton and expanded GO Train service into Niagara could alleviate access problems.
While the proposed new stadium would have fewer seats than the current Ivor Wynne, Young said teams are now counting on more revenue coming from broadcast rights, which makes a larger stadium unnecessary. He also feels it is big enough to host a Grey Cup.
Bratina said he contacted city councillors about the agreement earlier Tuesday morning.
"This (the building of a new stadium) should have been a fun thing over with a year ago, and we're still arguing about it," said Bratina, the former radio voice of the Tiger-Cats who has just begun his first term as mayor.
Under the terms of the deal, $70 million will be available from Hostco and $45 million from the Hamilton Future Fund.
The Tiger-Cats wouldn't specify their contribution to the renovation, although team president Scott Mitchell said three corporate partners -- Molson Coors, Primus and Tim Hortons -- were committed financially to helping with the project.