City councillors are backing a last-minute plan that will keep the Ticats in Hamilton, erase the stadium funding gap, and put an end to the divisive debate that has preoccupied the city for the past year.
Ticats caretaker Bob Young and Mayor Bob Bratina have struck a deal to renovate Ivor Wynne instead of building a brand new stadium for the 2015 Pan Am Games. The plan will go to a largely receptive council Wednesday for final approval.
It’s an unusual and unexpected turn in a debate that swallowed hours of staff time, cost the city millions of dollars and forced Hamilton’s often-toxic negotiations with the Cats into the national limelight.
The proposal, which was announced at a press conference Tuesday morning, calls for the north side of Ivor Wynne to be refurbished and a complete renovation for the stadium’s south side.
In exchange for renovating the stadium, the Ticats would agree to play at Ivor Wynne for 20 years. Young also said the franchise’s private partners – Coors-Molson, Primus, and Tim Hortons – are interested in investing in the new stadium.
“There’s been a lot of work done on it, there’s a lot of work still to do, but the good news is we have a footprint where all the zoning works, all the environmental issues work, we know that this location will work for a stadium,” Young said Tuesday.