September 29, 2007
With news of renewed demands for a new stadium to replace the old Ivor Wynne, I was looking through the archives and came across a story from almost 15 years ago. It could easily be an article written in the present:
It’s an area sorely in need of attention. The stadium search North-end catalyst?
The Hamilton Spectator – February, 03 1993
Hamilton’s search for a potential stadium or “multi-use professional sports complex,” focused on the waterfront, has advanced with city council’s decision to study possible sites in the west harborfront.
Council approved a $300,000 feasibility study, in the capital budget, to examine vacant or under-utilized industrial properties in the bayfront area west of Victoria Avenue. The study will include long-range economic, transportation and leisure plans for what’s being described as the “west harborfront precinct.”
Some eyebrows could be raised with the city’s decision to reject possible stadium sites further east, and the fact that potential alternatives in the suburban municipalities won’t be studied.
Some good arguments, however, can be made for a potential facility in the west harborfront. The area is touted as having the best potential along the bayfront, partly because of proximity to downtown. Together with the waterfront parks and marina complexes now taking shape in the west harbor, a stadium could be a catalyst for investment in a part of the city which sorely needs it.
Industrial properties east and west of Bay and north of Barton are possibilities. That would put the project close to the new Harborfront Park, the impressive new open space on the western shoreline being established on the former Lax property. We trust that in their enthusiasm for a stadium with a waterfront ambience, as developed in some American cities, the politicians don’t get the idea of attempting to put the sports project in the new park.
Alderman Terry Cooke, who first proposed a waterfront sports complex last year, says the Harborfront Park isn’t being considered as a locale. That’s good, but it would be reassuring if the new park is explicitly excluded when the study gets under way.
Any stadium in the North End raises major questions of proper access, adequate parking, and potential problems with the use of industrial lands which could be contaminated. In regard to the latter problem, Mr. Cooke sees a sports complex as one way to tackle the issue of a degraded environment head-on. He believes the future of the entire bayfront will be compromised if the problems of contaminated waste aren’t addressed.
As for an alternative locale in the suburbs, Mr. Cooke doesn’t preclude the idea. However, he suggests that if public money is involved in the project, there’s a stronger case for spending it in the west harborfront than in the suburbs. His perspective could make for interesting debate at the region.
While a new stadium has long been seen as inevitable in ensuring a better future for the Tiger-Cats and other professional sports franchises in Hamilton, the right place for the facility is another question.