(CBC Hamilton welcomes guest opinion columns. Terry Ott is a Hamilton resident and freelance journalist who has followed the Tiger Cats since 1963, and reported on the team for VIEW magazine during the 2001 season.)
Regarding recent stories about the demolition of Ivor Wynne Stadium and the building of the new Pan Am stadium, I’m skeptical to say the least that the new stadium will be ready for football by July 2014.
Consider the fact that there was an unexpected six-month delay for the BC Lions to re-enter BC Place Stadium after originally being slated to play in temporary stands for one year. Then there’s the recent delay of more than one year for the new Winnipeg stadium.
'It would not surprise me in the least if the Pan Am stadium were still under construction well into the 2014 CFL season.'
Notwithstanding these delays in other cities, there are engineering observations that a new facility like the one proposed for Hamilton cannot possibly be completed in approximately one year.
And historically, construction projects in Hamilton are rarely "as advertised."
Perhaps I am too cynical, but in my view one would require a busload of faith to believe that the new facility, which after all is really first and foremost a soccer stadium that has to be ready by June 2015 for the Pan Am games, would be completed well before that date. This just does not seem to be a top priority for the province of Ontario.
Furthermore, there is some question as to whether the city of Hamilton would be responsible for any of the inevitable cost over-runs on the project past the $30 million or so the taxpayers are already on the hook for.
So it would not surprise me in the least if the Pan Am stadium were still under construction well into the 2014 CFL season.
I have also read reports that when (and if) the Ti-Cats finally begin playing at the new facility, the team will be kicked out for about six weeks during the beginning of the 2015 CFL season and will be on the road for many of their early season games due to the commencement of the Pan Am Games soccer tournament.
Then there are the questions surrounding Alumni Stadium in Guelph, where the Tiger Cats will be playing the 2013 season. From my canvassing, many long time season ticket holders are not renewing because many fear that "good" seats between the 30 yard lines will be very limited.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote to Sam Kosakowksi, the director of Alumni Stadium, asking for details regarding how the venue will be brought up to CFL standards by June. Among other things, I asked about:
a) What the actual capacity of the stadium will be for CFL games.
b) Dressing room details.
c) Whether the press box would be able to accommodate the usual complement of cameras as employed by TSN on most broadcasts.
So far, there’s been no reply.
So consider the current fiasco of proposed play by the Cats in a totally sub-par venue at the University of Guelph for the 2013 season, the likely probability that the new stadium will not be ready for some of the 2014 season, and the vanquishing of the team for part of the 2015 season.
I'd say the Tiger Cats have a potential PR disaster on their hands.