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By Ted Michaels, CFL Editor - Archive - Email
Time to move on
Hamilton, ON (Sports Network) - It's never easy in Hamilton.

Give someone in this city one reason why they should do something, and they'll give you 10 reasons why they won't.

On Friday, plans for the new Pan Am Stadium were announced.

The new venue, to be built at the site of the current Ivor Wynne Stadium, will have around 24,000 permanent seats for football and soccer, which will be the event that will be played during the 2015 Pan Am Games.

The cost of the new stadium will be $145.7 million, with the federal government contributing $69.1 million, the province of Ontario paying $22.3 million and the city of Hamilton's forking out $54.3 million.

Of the $145.7 million, $119.1 million is the amount to design, build and finance the project. The remainder is comprised of capital expenditures for equipment, transaction fees, project management and other ancillary costs. It is on budget and construction is starting on time.

So, on a day when everyone in the city should have been excited, the fly in the ointment turned out to be some Hamilton politicians.

They complained that Infrastructure Ontario, which was overseeing the bidding process, kept everything confidential, and they weren't given any details of the stadium, before the public announcement later that day.

One councilor even had the temerity to try to restart talks to get the location of the new stadium moved to Hamilton's West Harbour, a site that caused so much controversy and discussion, it cost the Mayor of Hamilton his job in the 2010 election.

However, when the plans of the new stadium were unveiled, it was hard not to get excited.

The winning bidder, Ontario Sports Solutions, a consortium of developers, builders, designers and contractors, will turn the tired, 80-year-old stadium, into a modern showcase.

The architect, Canon Design, will take the current stadium, which runs east- west, and rotate it 90 degrees, to run north-south and best account for sun and wind to comply with FIFA stadium guidelines.

"By rotating the stadium, we're allowing the stadium to capture the escarpment, a fine feature of the city of Hamilton, and create that escarpment as part of the experience of being in the stadium," said Robert Johnston of Cannon Design.

"Sight lines have been perfected to allow every seat in the house gives you fantastic views of the field."

Spectators also will get a view of the field from a large plaza on the south side, that will host events and act as a fan gathering spot.

In addition, there will be 30 private suites and 700 club seats.

And, Hamilton fans will be happy to know, the days of sitting on old, hard benches are gone.

The new stadium will feature the largest average individual stadium seats of any outdoor facility in Canada. Every seat in the new stadium will be an individual seat. Seat sizes will range from a minimum of 21 inches to a maximum of 24 inches depending on seating sections.

Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young said having a smaller venue with permanent seats as opposed to what Ivor Wynne holds now (29,600) is not problematic.

"We can fit 24,000 people into the stadium as it is, without having to do anything special to it," he said. "If our season ticket-holder base grows big enough, you won't be surprised to find the stadium growing."

And, Young added, if you grow the stadium, the Grey Cup game could be back in Hamilton, where it hasn't been played since 1996.

"The foundations will be laid in both end zones for expanding the stadium to 40,000 for Grey Cup games and other major events."

Not only will the new stadium have a world-class high-definition video board and restaurant-quality concessions, but it also will include dedicated fitness rooms and change rooms for the general public. In addition, youth football, soccer, lacrosse and rugby teams will be welcomed.

Add it up and the stadium could be in use, in one form or another, for 365 days a year.

After the announcement, some Hamiltonians immediately weighed in, with complaints ranging from the design of the stadium to parking issues to the assumption that ticket prices will skyrocket.

The current Ivor Wynne Stadium will be demolished in December at the end of the current CFL season.

The new stadium is to be completed in July 2014.

One can only hope, by that time, all the neigh sayers will have moved on.

RUMOR MILL

In the last few weeks, one big question has remained unanswered: With Ivor Wynne slated to be demolished, where will the Tiger-Cats play their home games in 2013?

While neither the Tiger-Cats nor the CFL have commented, citing confidentially, rumors persist that McMaster University in Hamilton will host some, if not the bulk, of the home games in 2013.

An official announcement as to the plans for 2013 will be made in the next few weeks.

Ted Michaels is the host of the Fifth Quarter on AM900 CHML.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? ted@900chml.com


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