Hamilton stadium spending for Pan Am Games OK'd

BILL LANKHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:52 AM ET

Hamilton City Council yesterday voted in favour of spending $60 million for construction of a stadium and velodrome complex for the Pan Am Games.

Whether that morphs into a 27,000-seat stadium for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats remains in economic limbo.

"What we had to do today was approve the spending for a Pan Am Games stadium. They don't care if the Ticats play there -- but we do," councillor Bob Bratina said.

The province and federal government is providing $54 million each for construction of a 15,000-seat stadium for track and field. The city, meantime, is looking for private investors, like the Ticats, to expand the project.

Bratina sees two eventualities.

"If the economy stays in the pits and there's no extra money we open a 15,000 seat stadium in 2015," he said. "But what we can do is leave space in the end zones so we can add temporary seating to get to the 25,000 number if we can't build the bigger structure.

GOT THE VOTES

"Our hope is we get public/private commitments ... and we're quite a ways away to be honest, to design a 27,000 seat stadium even before the Pan Am Games."

Yesterday's vote passed 12-3.

"I'm delighted," mayor Fred Eisenberger said. "It shows ... an economic understanding of our needs relative to our aging Ivor Wynne Stadium."

The preferred site is a 30-acre plot comprised of abandoned factories.

"It would be a real opportunity," Bratina said, "to clean up an area that otherwise isn't going to be developed for years."

Its biggest hurdle could be passing environmental assessment.

"It might say no, so you've got to have a Plan B," Bratina said. "That would be the airport, which we really don't want to do. But we own the land. It'd be simple. It's a green field; dig a hole and build. But you don't go to a bar there afterward; you'd just get in the car and go home."


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