We’re on a roll with Pan Am windfall

SCOTT THOMPSON
The Hamilton Spectator
(Nov.10 2009)


Congratulations Hammer you got a win! Congratulations Hamilton you are part of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games!

This is probably the first time Hamilton feels good about being on the same team as Toronto. Ironically one of the main reasons this Pan Am bid was so strong is that it represented the entire ‘Golden Horseshoe’ and not just one city.

Because of that, the financial responsibility and the legacy will be spread out from Niagara to Durham.

Where were you and what were were you doing when you heard the news?

When I started the show at 4pm last Friday on News/Talk 900 CHML, I was fully prepared to go live to the Discovery Centre on Hamilton’s waterfront for the big decision gala at 6pm.

There was a palatable anxiousness in the air. “Cautiously optimistic” was the most muttered phrase under the city’s breath. Hoping for the best but fearing the worst, again.

You can imagine how surprised we all were when just after 4:30pm newsman Ted Michaels breaks in and unveils, “We’ve got the Pan Am Games!”

We were speechless! Tom Cooper, freelance writer for the Spec and whose column is above this one, was with us on air when the news came down. For months we were talking and dreaming about it, now we had nothing to say! We were stunned.

After years of cheerleading, you wonder if you will ever be heard. Hamilton was heard loud and clear.

David Adames, Executive Director of Tourism Hamilton, was equally surprised by the premature news telling listeners it was like “having a baby early!”

While were talking to him guests were arriving at the Discovery Centre not expecting to hear “We got the games” before the festivities even started. We over heard the mayor’s wife ask David if the decision was made and after hearing the great news started cheering and wishing him well. It was incredibly exciting radio!

Despite knowing the “bid was solid” Adames said you can never predict the “politics” of these events. This will put Hamilton on the world stage when it comes to sports training and tourism.

Scott Mitchell president of the Hamilton Tiger Cats told us, the city was “long over due for renewed investment especially in sports infrastructure.”

Mitchell said,”We’ve done all we can with Ivor Wynne, it’s not the best facility to work out of.”

When I asked him what characteristics he would like to bring from Ivor Wynne to the new stadium he said the “great sight lines and close proximity of the fan to the field”.

Another bonus in getting a new stadium is the CFL loves to show them off with Grey Cup Games. Mitchell expressed to owner Bob Young, Hamilton is “long over due to host two Grey Cups!” let alone one. Those championships bring millions of dollars to the host city.

The Mayor of Hamilton Fred Eisenberger said he was “over the moon” and “we deserved to win”. He was right. He said many times, “You have to be in the game to win!”

Justifying the new stadiums expense Eisenberger said “Hamilton may have to put out $60 million but we’re getting about $300 million in infrastructure.”

With the west location of the new stadium we’ll see redevelopment downtown and along the waterfront. This plus enhanced pubic transit, Go and LRT lines is sure to help aid Hamilton’s hotel woes. Not to mention the ‘priceless’ world wide exposure the city will bask in for the duration of the games.

The Mayor also points out the new velodrome is the “sleeper in this bid,” and will train athletes from all over North America as will the new aquatic centre at McMaster.

So the next time someone says, Hamilton can never get ahead, remember this moment.

It’s not when we turned the corner, it’s when we crossed the finish line first!

Now, let’s get working on that NHL team again… I think we’re on a roll!

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The Scott Thompson Show airs weekdays from 4-6pm on News/Talk 900 CHML.
Visit his website at www.ScottThompsonTalk.com