Hamilton is looking into becoming the future home of a new Canadian Comedy Hall of Fame.
Staff is looking into a pitch from the Canadian Comedy Foundation asking the Steel City to become home for the new museum, and to host the Canadian Comedy Awards in 2014.
The hall of fame would include a comedy club, as well as space to showcase personalities from film, TV and internet. The project would cost the city $200,000 to $250,000 per year for the next five years but bring an economic impact of millions, said Tim Progosh of the Canadian Comedy Experience and the Canadian Comedy Foundation.
Councillors were skeptical. The foundation has also approached Ottawa, Niagara Falls and a group that operates out of Woodbine racetrack. Coun. Brad Clark of Stoney Creek worried that this was starting "a bidding war amongst municipalities."
Clark and others wanted to see more financial information too, including the millions in federal and provincial funding Progosh said the hall of fame will bring.
Coun. Brian McHattie of Ward 1 said the city has gotten good pitches before.
"We've had similar presentations in the past and they haven't always panned out into something that's real and has tangible benefits for Hamilton," he said. "I hope you take that in the best spirit of what's intended."
Hamilton has trouble funding its own museums, Clark said. And hall of fames don't tend to be big tourist draws.
"They're all interactive and they all suck," Clark said after reassurance that this hall of fame will be interactive.
"Hall of fames don't draw crowds."
But city manager Chris Murray saw merit in the presentation, calling it a wonderful opportunity.
"This is worth our time for sure," he said.
Murray will come back with a report with more financial information. If Hamilton proceeds, he said, it will be conditional on the city being the only prospect for the hall of fame.
Coun. Chad Collins and Coun. Sam Merulla voted against investigating a hall of fame. Collins tweeted afterward that he didn't think the city could afford it.
"We can barely afford the museums we operate," Collins tweeted after the vote.
"I welcome private investment and offer our full support to facilitate their development applications."
"We need to focus on our core services," he tweeted. "Back to basics. No more distractions."