The following is the letter from Hamilton Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young to Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger.
Mayor Fred Eisenberger August 9, 2010
City of Hamilton and Members of Council
It saddens me to advise you that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats Football Club is withdrawing from any further discussions and negotiations pertaining to the siting of the Pan Am Stadium in Hamilton.
It is painfully apparent, despite the best efforts of our facilitator, Michael Fenn, the plethora of information from stadium experts, and our own financial submissions, that you remain fixated on the West Harbour Stadium and without a strong political champion in Hamilton, it is impossible to continue our efforts with respect to the East Mountain proposal.
The need to replace Ivor Wynne Stadium played an integral part in the Pan-Am bid process, and undoubtedly we would not be debating this great opportunity were it not for the history and presence of this great franchise. Legacy in the form of an anchor tenant and a business case were part of the criteria that was generally accepted when the Pan Games Stadium was proposed for Hamilton. Simply put, the facility would have to be "sustainable" with an anchor tenant to justify federal and provincial taxpayer's money.
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.
Our facilitator, Mr. Fenn, understood these requirements when he advanced the compromise site on the East Mountain. This site was not our first choice. The most sensible location for a new stadium is on a small part of Confederation Park. The highway visibility would have brought the Tiger-Cats to a breakeven situation. The real development potential within the precinct would have brought jobs and real economic value to the City.
For reasons unknown to us, and the general public, this site was never an option.
Inherent in our proposal was the opportunity to work with senior levels of government to build something at the West Harbour that would be consistent with the planning principles contained in your planning document, Setting Sail.
In my view, this would have been a "win-win" situation. We believe that option was made available but has now been squandered.
As the most recent owner of the Tiger-Cats, I have always believed that my primary responsibility to the organization, the fans and to the memory of my family, who I have honoured with this ownership, was to ensure that the team would remain sustainable moving forward. By that, I mean, ECONOMICALLY sustainable.
The West Harbour option which you personally have driven gives the Tiger-Cats no hope of running a sustainable business. Using “best practice” criteria, and confirmed by leading experts around North America, this proposed stadium would rank dead last in North America in terms of usability for its tenants. It imposes a logistical nightmare for fans, particularly the "regional fans" that Mr. Fenn describes as vital to our survival.
As such, I cannot be part of a process that destines us to financial failure before the first shovel goes in the ground.
As owner of the Tiger-Cats, I cannot and will not be party to such an ill-advised concept.
I regret that over the course of the past year, you have not been sensitive to our concerns as your tenant. My major regret is the harsh reality that after next year, there will be no home for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the City where we shared so much success and positive experiences together. We note that even in the city's own report, that without a tenant you are well beyond $60 million dollars short of building a 25,000 seat facility.
We will play out our days at Ivor Wynne.
I know this letter will be a disappointment to our thousands of fans, particularly those who share our dream as it pertains to a new, sustainable, legacy stadium. We thank them for their continued support and look forward to seeing them at Ivor Wynne Stadium for another great Labour Day Classic against the Argonauts on September 6th.
Mr. Robert (Bob) Young