Suitor: New stadiums are about more than just the CFL

Glen Suitor

6/26/2010 11:30:01 AM

As a resident of the Lower Mainland in Vancouver I am constantly reminded of the tremendously positive impact the 2010 Olympic Games had on this province and our country.

Recently, I asked some kids on the street to what they dreamed of doing when they grew up, and I was amazed at how many said their dream was to represent their country at an Olympics. Their words sounded so sincere. Every athlete's accomplishments first begin with a dream.

Occasionally I get a chance to drive the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler and drive by the new skiing facilities and infrastructure that has been left behind for every Canadian, as well as any guest to our country, to enjoy for many years to come.

Maybe most importantly, not a day goes by when someone doesn't bring up how patriotic they felt when Alexandre Bilodeau raced down the mountain to the Gold Medal or Sidney Crosby scored that famous, “Golden Goal.”
The Olympics were so much more than a sporting event; they inspired our youth and united our country.

I bring it up because on a somewhat smaller scale, but no less important, there are currently two stadium projects being negotiated in Canada that are so much bigger than the football teams that will play in them.

In Ottawa they are at the goal line on a project that will not only give the city and Ontario a new state of the art stadium, but will create a jewel on the bank of the Rideau Canal at Lansdowne that will make the entire country proud. There have been some contractual issues crop up in the deal, where by an outside businessman voiced some concerns about a clause in the paper work which would give the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment group a monopoly on the building of any new stadium. This has some local politicians sounding a little panicked. Meanwhile the OSEG has said it is not set in stone, there is a reason for it, but it is negotiable, and it can be worked out.

In Hamilton negotiations continue, not on whether or not to build a stadium for the Pan Am games, but where to build it. It seems both sides are getting closer and are optimistic, but this one is a real head-scratcher. The funds have been put aside and agreed upon and local business in the form of the Ti-Cat ownership wants to partner up in the project. It's basically a go, yet it may not happen because the two sides can't agree on where to build it, and apparently there are numerous locations to choose from.

Sports unite our country. Just look at what happened in Vancouver in February.

To those sitting at the negotiation table in both Hamilton and Ottawa, please keep that in mind. This is not just about the return of CFL football to Ottawa or a new facility for the Ti-Cats. It is about creating an environment that inspires the youth of our nation, by building facilities that can bring families together and encourage kids to get active, and be proud of their cities.

Sporting events are a chance to cheer for the home team, which can unite families, and can bring together a city, a province, and eventually a country.

To all the politicians involved: get these projects done. You will not regret the decision. In fact you will watch as facilities like these inspire our youth, generate tourism and revenue for your city, attract major events, and bring our country together, transcending political beliefs or geographical boundaries. If you do, I truly believe you will agree that you did the right thing for your community. Cut through the red tape and improve your city. There are private businessmen putting in hours of their time and millions of their dollars to help, but ultimately it is up to you.

The dreams of our kids are depending on you to do the right thing.