Ever had one of those days where you think to yourself, “Wow, I’m terrible at my job”? Well never fear, you can make yourself feel better in the most human of all ways – by pointing and laughing at someone who’s even worse at their job than you are at yours.
I’m talking, of course, about Hamilton Ontario City Councillors. And the Mayor.
Here’s the scenario: The 2015 Pan Am Games are awarded to the Greater Toronto Area. As part of the deal, the corporate entity hosting the games (“HostCo”) negotiates a deal with the federal and provincial governments, securing funding assistance for the building of certain venues. Among these venues is a multipurpose stadium suitable for soccer events. There’s one important proviso: money will be available from the feds and province for a soccer stadium provided the planned new stadium has a “legacy tenant”, somebody to use the fucking place after the 2 week Pan Am games are over. Hamilton gets targeted for, among other things, some of the soccer events.
The timing of all of this is like a gift from heaven for the City and its professional football franchise, the Hamilton Tiger Cats, because the Ticats currently play in an aging and decrepit facility that is difficult if not impossible to retrofit, and because it was unlikely the City and football team would be able to swing the construction of a new facility on their own. Everything is falling into place: other governments are willing to help build an already needed stadium, provided things can be worked out to get the team that needs the new stadium to play in the planned new stadium. Shouldn’t be hard, right? All that remains is for the City of Hamilton to choose its proposed stadium site.
Cue the lunacy. Ten sites are identified as possible Hamilton locations for the new stadium. One of them – the West Harbour location – is identified as most beneficial to the City in terms of assisting with downtown redevelopment, but absolutely the worst for the Ticats. The Ticats commission several studies, all of which tell them that they will struggle financially – or more accurately continue to struggle financially – if they go to the West Harbour location. The Ticats express the importance of choosing some other location to the City. They express a preference for a location at Confederation Park. The City resists. A facilitator is appointed to mediate the dispute. The facilitator agrees with the Ticats that the West Harbour site is not feasible for them, and recommends an alternative compromise site, something called the “East Mountain” site.
The Ticats are not thrilled, but indicate they are prepared to make it work. The owner of the team even indicates he’s prepared to put $15 million on the table to assist with the funding, and to arrange for $59 million in additional funding to sweeten the pot for the City.
The City still wants its West Harbour site.
The owner of the team says in no uncertain terms that the Ticats will not play at the West Harbour site.
City Council votes and chooses – you guessed it – the West Harbour site.
So Council has recommended the one site that does not meet with the basic funding requirements, because it cannot boast an anchor or legacy tenant. No legacy tenant means there is a very real chance that no funding for the stadium will be forthcoming. No funding means no stadium. No stadium means no Pan Am games events and no economic development of any kind. Aside from the profound embarrassment for the City that would result from a failure of this nature, such an outcome would represent a failure to move forward that is unlikely to be overcome in a generation. City Council has made the one decision that results in the opportunity of a generation leaving town, likely to York University.
City Council has also thoroughly pissed off the Hamilton Tiger Cats and their owner. As someone who’s been involved in a lot of community fundraising over the years, I can tell you this is horribly unjust as the Ticats, under the stewardship of Bob Young, have been tremendous corporate citizens and very responsible and caring contributors to the community. The Ticats have a year and a half left on their lease at the charming, but inevitably obsolete Ivor Wynne Stadium. The hope they had of moving to a new, more economically feasible, modern stadium in this City has been extinguished by the ridiculously short-sighted vote of City Council. There is now a realistic chance that a team with 141 years of history in this city will be pushed out for no good reason.
“But wait, we can get a soccer team! They’ll play at the new stadium!” So sayeth the West Harbour types. Not going to happen. Bob Young, the owner of the Ticats, owns the rights to NASL soccer in this town. The City better not be holding its breath for Bob to come riding in on a stallion to save their sorry behinds.
“But this is a victory for democracy! It’s about city-building, not a site for a football team!” So sayeth the West Harbour types. Terrific and full of lofty principle, but it ignores the fundamental truth that there isn’t going to be a West Harbour stadium. No stadium, no city building. How is an embarrassing failure to achieve any of the objectives on the table a victory for democracy?
Ridiculous. Embarrassing. Ludicrous. Hamilton politics all the way.
So go ahead, dear reader: walk in to your job tomorrow, drop your trousers and hop up on the photocopier glass. Make a few thousand Xeroxes of your hairy ass and distribute them to your superiors. Answer your phone by barking into it. Answer each and every customer inquiry with the phrase “Robots. Killer robots from the future did it.” Remove your pants entirely. Do the Stanky Legg every third step you take. Insult a passenger, steal a beer and depart via the inflatable chute at the rear of the aircraft. You can do all these things secure in the knowledge that, as bad as you are at your job, Hamilton’s Mayor and City Councillors are even worse at theirs.