Ticats' political cat fight

Hamilton Tiger-Cats owner Robert Young has apparently said there will be no team in Hamilton next...

Hamilton Tiger-Cats owner Robert Young has apparently said there will be no team in Hamilton next year. (ERIN RILEY/QMI AGENCY)

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:17 AM ET

He has taken his money and gone home.

Is Bob Young's next step to uproot his Hamilton Tiger-Cats and settle down the QEW in Burlington, or in Quebec City as the Montreal Alouettes' main rival, or in Moncton, a town which is salivating at the thought of playing host to the Argonauts and the Edmonton Eskimos next month?

The ugliness that has become the bitter dispute between Young and Hamilton mayor Fred Eisenberger appeared to take on an air of finality on Monday afternoon when Young, in a letter to Eisenberger that the Ticats made public, said he was pulling out of discussions and negotiations regarding the site of the Pan Am Games stadium, and lamented that "after next year (when the Ticats' lease at Ivor Wynne Stadium expires), there will be no home for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the city."

The crumbling Ivor Wynne has to be replaced, and Young put forth a compromise that would see a new park on the city's East Mountain.

Eisenberger wants it closer to downtown, and, in a perfect world, Young wanted it to be built at Confederation Park.

But fed up with the squabble, Young, who had pledged $15 million toward the East Mountain site, is done.

It's hard to believe the city would be stubborn enough to chase away a Hamilton native who breathed new life into the Ticats franchise, yet that could be the case here. It will be interesting to see whether this is just a bold act of posturing on Young's part, or that it really is the first significant step to securing a one-way ticket out of Steeltown.

Hamilton city councillor Sam Merulla wasn't waiting to find out, telling reporters that a source at Queen's Park indicated the Ticats would be re-locating to Quebec City. Merulla said that Young's insinuation that the Ticats would be done in Hamilton after the 2011 season is "nothing short of extortion at the expense of the public purse."

"This team, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, has been subsidized by this city by the tens of millions of dollars," Merulla said. "They are literally on welfare and for them to try to extort us at the eleventh hour, it's a sad, sad day.

I have great respect for Mr. Young, but I never expected he would stoop this low.

"We subsidize them $1.3 million a year and we make absolutely no revenue from them. They keep all the revenues and we pay all the expenses. The fact that the Tiger-Cats would expect the city of Hamilton to give them a blank cheque is absurd."

Reports now say there is no deal in place for the Ticats to move to another Canadian city, including Quebec City, which allegedly had agreed to a $17-million deal to bring the Ticats in.

Tiger-Cats president Scott Mitchell did not respond to a request via e-mail for an interview.

Canadian Football League commissioner Mark Cohon refused to comment, other than to have a statement released saying that "We will continue to work with the Tiger-Cats to find a solution."

Former Ticats owner David Braley, who now owns the Toronto Argonauts and the B.C. Lions, said it would be unfair for him to speculate on the situation and therefore would not comment.

Young, a Hamilton native, said in the letter that "you know that the Tiger-Cats have invested more than $30 million into this team and community over the course of the past seven years. We were vitally interested in being part of a stadium solution to replace Ivor Wynne.

"It is painfully apparent that you remain fixated on the West Harbour Stadium ­ using 'best practice' criteria, this proposed stadium would rank dead last in North America in terms of usability for tenants."

Hamilton city council is scheduled to vote on the stadium site today. Late last week, it was revealed that the federal and provincial governments would provide funding for the 2015 Pan Am Games stadium only if was built at the East Mountain.


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