Was that the future of sports in Hamilton we were watching?

Community May 30, 2015 by Steve Milton The Hamilton Spectator

Friday night at the new yard was not just about Friday night, or just about the new yard.

From the Hamilton Tiger-Cat experience last year we already knew that Tim Hortons Field is going to make a difference, and when it temporarily becomes CIBC Hamilton Pan Am Stadium next week, it will make a difference, too.

Friday was a stepping stone — more like a segue, actually — to July's Pan Am Games, but also to a host of other things between now and 2030.

Why pick that far-off date, you might ask? Because that's the centennial of the first Commonwealth Games (nee British Empire Games) which were held in Hamilton on the very site that Friday night's game was played, but in a stadium facing the other direction.

And, yes, there is already talk in some Hamilton quarters that we should be bidding for those Games. Besides the historical symmetry, we have to get a pool and a track somewhere, and there's plenty of time to financially plan.

With the new joint sold out for Canada vs. England Friday night, and the old joint downtown setting North American attendance records last month for synchronized skating, this city has its sports-host groove back.

Back in the late 1980s and for all of the '90s, Hamilton was the go-to place for almost all of the major national and international sports events — Canada Cup, Memorial Cup, Leafs and Sabres exhibition games, Figure Skating's Grand Prix, three national figure skating championships et al. — and that was without the Tiger-Cats being anywhere close to what they are today.

And what they are today is not just a sports franchise but a very successful business franchise, with many arms looking for more places to reach into.

They'll have a soccer team soon, and therefore will get as well-versed in the business of that football as they are of their own brand of football. If the city is looking to become an international player again, and we are, the Ticats will always be involved.

The Cats, with their last two crazy years and undefeated record on the coffee grounds, have created a feeling about the east-end stadium that was continued by Canada's favourite soccer team Friday night. The place was sold out, and we're guessing that fewer than half the tickets went to people who live here and in Burlington.

That, folks, is a good thing over the long run.

"The important part for the Pan Ams is that we know we don't have to depend upon just Hamilton sales to fill the place," says Nick Bontis, business professor at Mac and co-chair of Toronto2015's soccer committee.

"Having the first big soccer event in Hamilton in this generation, there will be a carry-over. The buzz has started with this, for the Pan Am Games. There's momentum and the Pan Ams, and the Women's World Cup, have now had what I call a 'blast' event.

"And having shown that we can sell out an event like this in Hamilton will really help. We want to host World Cup (qualifying) events at the stadium, Olympic qualifying events, all kinds of big soccer events."

That's ambitious, but it's surprising what momentum can do. And what we want is ambitious. Remind us again what Hamilton's nickname was in its hey day? Oh yeah, Ambitious City. Bontis says the stadium functions beautifully for the Beautiful Game and it's now a matter of acclimatization.

The Pan Ams themselves should be another stepping stone to one of the things we want for this city, which is sporting tourism for major events. (Hamilton is already developing a strong reputation in sporting tourism for participatory events).

We will have a sports-volunteer base list, established by Toronto2015 and augmented by the local organizing committee.

We also have more hotels downtown, and within easy driving distance, which addresses the shortcoming the city had when it lost the Figure Skating Worlds to Edmonton in 1996, and other events didn't even consider coming here because of the dearth of rooms.

We have a lot more than we had when we were the cheaper alternative to Toronto, but drawing from the same sporting audience.

The soccer, the Pan Ams, the Ticats: the sporting future could be here, if Hamilton plays it right. Strong emphasis on the last part.

smilton@thespec.com

905-526-3268 | @miltonatthespec

Was that the future of sports in Hamilton we were watching?

Community May 30, 2015 by Steve Milton The Hamilton Spectator

Friday night at the new yard was not just about Friday night, or just about the new yard.

From the Hamilton Tiger-Cat experience last year we already knew that Tim Hortons Field is going to make a difference, and when it temporarily becomes CIBC Hamilton Pan Am Stadium next week, it will make a difference, too.

Friday was a stepping stone — more like a segue, actually — to July's Pan Am Games, but also to a host of other things between now and 2030.

Why pick that far-off date, you might ask? Because that's the centennial of the first Commonwealth Games (nee British Empire Games) which were held in Hamilton on the very site that Friday night's game was played, but in a stadium facing the other direction.

Related Content

And, yes, there is already talk in some Hamilton quarters that we should be bidding for those Games. Besides the historical symmetry, we have to get a pool and a track somewhere, and there's plenty of time to financially plan.

With the new joint sold out for Canada vs. England Friday night, and the old joint downtown setting North American attendance records last month for synchronized skating, this city has its sports-host groove back.

Back in the late 1980s and for all of the '90s, Hamilton was the go-to place for almost all of the major national and international sports events — Canada Cup, Memorial Cup, Leafs and Sabres exhibition games, Figure Skating's Grand Prix, three national figure skating championships et al. — and that was without the Tiger-Cats being anywhere close to what they are today.

And what they are today is not just a sports franchise but a very successful business franchise, with many arms looking for more places to reach into.

They'll have a soccer team soon, and therefore will get as well-versed in the business of that football as they are of their own brand of football. If the city is looking to become an international player again, and we are, the Ticats will always be involved.

The Cats, with their last two crazy years and undefeated record on the coffee grounds, have created a feeling about the east-end stadium that was continued by Canada's favourite soccer team Friday night. The place was sold out, and we're guessing that fewer than half the tickets went to people who live here and in Burlington.

That, folks, is a good thing over the long run.

"The important part for the Pan Ams is that we know we don't have to depend upon just Hamilton sales to fill the place," says Nick Bontis, business professor at Mac and co-chair of Toronto2015's soccer committee.

"Having the first big soccer event in Hamilton in this generation, there will be a carry-over. The buzz has started with this, for the Pan Am Games. There's momentum and the Pan Ams, and the Women's World Cup, have now had what I call a 'blast' event.

"And having shown that we can sell out an event like this in Hamilton will really help. We want to host World Cup (qualifying) events at the stadium, Olympic qualifying events, all kinds of big soccer events."

That's ambitious, but it's surprising what momentum can do. And what we want is ambitious. Remind us again what Hamilton's nickname was in its hey day? Oh yeah, Ambitious City. Bontis says the stadium functions beautifully for the Beautiful Game and it's now a matter of acclimatization.

The Pan Ams themselves should be another stepping stone to one of the things we want for this city, which is sporting tourism for major events. (Hamilton is already developing a strong reputation in sporting tourism for participatory events).

We will have a sports-volunteer base list, established by Toronto2015 and augmented by the local organizing committee.

We also have more hotels downtown, and within easy driving distance, which addresses the shortcoming the city had when it lost the Figure Skating Worlds to Edmonton in 1996, and other events didn't even consider coming here because of the dearth of rooms.

We have a lot more than we had when we were the cheaper alternative to Toronto, but drawing from the same sporting audience.

The soccer, the Pan Ams, the Ticats: the sporting future could be here, if Hamilton plays it right. Strong emphasis on the last part.

smilton@thespec.com

905-526-3268 | @miltonatthespec

Was that the future of sports in Hamilton we were watching?

Community May 30, 2015 by Steve Milton The Hamilton Spectator

Friday night at the new yard was not just about Friday night, or just about the new yard.

From the Hamilton Tiger-Cat experience last year we already knew that Tim Hortons Field is going to make a difference, and when it temporarily becomes CIBC Hamilton Pan Am Stadium next week, it will make a difference, too.

Friday was a stepping stone — more like a segue, actually — to July's Pan Am Games, but also to a host of other things between now and 2030.

Why pick that far-off date, you might ask? Because that's the centennial of the first Commonwealth Games (nee British Empire Games) which were held in Hamilton on the very site that Friday night's game was played, but in a stadium facing the other direction.

Related Content

And, yes, there is already talk in some Hamilton quarters that we should be bidding for those Games. Besides the historical symmetry, we have to get a pool and a track somewhere, and there's plenty of time to financially plan.

With the new joint sold out for Canada vs. England Friday night, and the old joint downtown setting North American attendance records last month for synchronized skating, this city has its sports-host groove back.

Back in the late 1980s and for all of the '90s, Hamilton was the go-to place for almost all of the major national and international sports events — Canada Cup, Memorial Cup, Leafs and Sabres exhibition games, Figure Skating's Grand Prix, three national figure skating championships et al. — and that was without the Tiger-Cats being anywhere close to what they are today.

And what they are today is not just a sports franchise but a very successful business franchise, with many arms looking for more places to reach into.

They'll have a soccer team soon, and therefore will get as well-versed in the business of that football as they are of their own brand of football. If the city is looking to become an international player again, and we are, the Ticats will always be involved.

The Cats, with their last two crazy years and undefeated record on the coffee grounds, have created a feeling about the east-end stadium that was continued by Canada's favourite soccer team Friday night. The place was sold out, and we're guessing that fewer than half the tickets went to people who live here and in Burlington.

That, folks, is a good thing over the long run.

"The important part for the Pan Ams is that we know we don't have to depend upon just Hamilton sales to fill the place," says Nick Bontis, business professor at Mac and co-chair of Toronto2015's soccer committee.

"Having the first big soccer event in Hamilton in this generation, there will be a carry-over. The buzz has started with this, for the Pan Am Games. There's momentum and the Pan Ams, and the Women's World Cup, have now had what I call a 'blast' event.

"And having shown that we can sell out an event like this in Hamilton will really help. We want to host World Cup (qualifying) events at the stadium, Olympic qualifying events, all kinds of big soccer events."

That's ambitious, but it's surprising what momentum can do. And what we want is ambitious. Remind us again what Hamilton's nickname was in its hey day? Oh yeah, Ambitious City. Bontis says the stadium functions beautifully for the Beautiful Game and it's now a matter of acclimatization.

The Pan Ams themselves should be another stepping stone to one of the things we want for this city, which is sporting tourism for major events. (Hamilton is already developing a strong reputation in sporting tourism for participatory events).

We will have a sports-volunteer base list, established by Toronto2015 and augmented by the local organizing committee.

We also have more hotels downtown, and within easy driving distance, which addresses the shortcoming the city had when it lost the Figure Skating Worlds to Edmonton in 1996, and other events didn't even consider coming here because of the dearth of rooms.

We have a lot more than we had when we were the cheaper alternative to Toronto, but drawing from the same sporting audience.

The soccer, the Pan Ams, the Ticats: the sporting future could be here, if Hamilton plays it right. Strong emphasis on the last part.

smilton@thespec.com

905-526-3268 | @miltonatthespec