Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Renovating Ivor Wynne Stadium

Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina and Hamilton Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young reached an agreement Tuesday morning that would see the city and the club co-operate on funding for the creation of a 25,000-seat facility on the site of the 80-year-old Ivor Wynne Stadium.

The Ticats are expected to sign a 20-year lease with the city to play at the site, which also would be one of the locations for Pan American Games soccer games in 2015. The proposal will put before Hamilton city council Wednesday.

Young and Bratina say the refurbishment will cost $115-million. Under the terms of the deal, $70-million will be available from the Pan AM Host Corporation and a further $45-million from the Hamilton Future Fund. Young said team corporate partners Molson-Coors, Primus and Tim Hortons have agreed to provide funs for the project, but didn’t give specific dollar amounts.

"I want to thank Mayor Bob Bratina for finding a way to win the substantial funding of the Pan Am Games for Hamilton and to ensure the Tiger-Cats will continue to play in Hamilton in the future," Young said in a release. "I am especially pleased that the 'sacred ground' of so many great Tiger-Cat Football moments will remain our home in a new, state of the art facility that will be a showcase in Canada's league.

“Our goal from the beginning has been to ensure the Tiger-Cats will be on sound financial footing in the future and we believe this deal accomplishes that.”

The proposal calls for demolition and reconstruction of Ivor Wynne’s south stands and renovation of the north stands. Young said there may be opportunities to build more parking on vacant industrial land near the stadium. Ivor Wynne is located in a residential area of town. Young suggested that the Ticats might play in Toronto during the construction phase, although there are options, including playing the first half of the schedule on the road while the new stadium is being completed.

The Ticats’ previous preference was for sites on the CP Rail Yard and Confederation Park but both were shot down by council in December. Council was to consider a West Harbour site Wednesday, but the football club had already said that site was not acceptable and was looking elsewhere to relocate.

Toronto 2015, the Pan Am organizers, will comment later Tuesday on the latest offer. Hamilton city council would need to approve its end of the project.

The IWS site did not originally meet the Pan Am requirement to provide a 20 acre warm-up track next to the stadium, but Toronto 2015 resolved the issue when it moved track and field events to Toronto’s York University and soccer to Hamilton.

The new Ivor Wynne plan would leave no money from Toronto 2015 or the Future Fund to expand a planned Pan Am velodrome into a permanent facility, however.

Toronto 2015 has said Hamilton must present a complete proposal by February 1. Toronto 2015 also said Pan Am stadium money must go to a new facility.

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