Ticats won’t bid for CFL Week until stadium litigation resolved

Hamilton Tiger-Cats fans, having waited 21 years (and counting) to host a Grey Cup, will need to show some patience when it comes to CFL Week as well.

The second annual event was held in Winnipeg over the weekend and the league says attendance surpassed the numbers set by Regina last year. While there’s still room for improvement – the evening events saw less than stellar crowds – the off-season showcase clearly has some momentum.

Multiple teams are said to be preparing bids to host the 2019 edition, but Hamilton won’t be one of them says Ticats CEO Scott Mitchell.

“There’s no question, we’d love to be a potential host for CFL Week. I think the CFL and the cities involved have done a great job and set a really high bar for it,” he said. “But like many things related to a number of great opportunities for Hamilton, we need to get some things behind us, including our current litigation.”

The city, stadium contractor Ontario Sports Solutions and Infrastructure Ontario have been locked in a lawsuit over delays and deficiencies at the $145-million stadium and that litigation – which is also holding up a possible Grey Cup bid – needs resolution.

“CFL Week has turned into an event that requires a lot of cooperation between the municipality and the team and what we’ve been told is that it’s going to be hard for the city to do that until the litigation is resolved,” Mitchell said.

While the city clearly has the facilities to host the non-football events like the Canadian Football Hall of Fame gala and the Fan Fest, finding a suitable spot for the CFL combine could be a challenge.

The venue needs to be indoors and have a suitable playing surface for the testing and one-on-one drills while also having space for spectators, team personnel and media.

The Ticats use the Players Paradise Sports Complex in Stoney Creek on occasion but its location, a 30 km drive from downtown, makes it less than ideal. In both Regina and Winnpeg, most of the CFL Week events were held in a centralized location.

Mitchell says the team has a solution but says it, too, is being held up by the lawsuit.

Last January, city council said it wouldn’t consider the a team-funded plan to erect a massive air-supported dome over the playing surface at Tim Hortons Field which would make it usable by the Ticats and community year-round.

“The dome would be a difference-maker and would be a huge advantage if we bid for a CFL Week,” Mitchell said. “That was one of the premises of us being willing to invest in the dome … The challenge is that cities will bring full turn-key solutions to CFL Week and there’s not a facility that would meet the standards for a bid.”

With Hamilton out of the running, one of the early front-runners is the Edmonton Eskimos. Team president Len Rhodes took to Twitter Sunday afternoon to stake a claim for next year.

“We have expressed interest to bring CFL Week to Edmonton in 2019,” Rhodes wrote. “Our market would love to host this hot new CFL property.”

Ottawa, who hosted the Grey Cup last November, is also said to be interested and Halifax would become an instant contender if the city is awarded a franchise this summer.

Given the success of the first two years, commissioner Randy Ambrosie said the league is “very committed” to CFL Week and will be establishing a framework for potential host cities.

“What are the criteria we would use to evaluate bids? Should we, like we do at Grey Cup, have an implied rotation?” he said. “This is just another step forward in making the CFL a 12-month league. You can’t be out of touch with your fans.”

Mitchell said he remains optimistic the lawsuit can be resolved and that the team will be able to move forward in bidding for both the Grey Cup and CFL Week.

“Everybody is doing what they can but we still need to make some progress. I think we’re at a critical juncture where it’s either going to be resolved or it has to move the courts. Let’s hope we can resolve it before it gets to that,” he said. “Hamilton fans have expressed an appetite for CFL and Grey Cup and we’re very confident they could be successful in Hamilton.”

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards

Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.
Drew Edwards
Drew Edwards
About Drew Edwards (1570 Articles)
Drew Edwards is into his eighth season covering the CFL and the Ticats for the Hamilton Spectator. He is the founder and editor of 3DownNation.

27 Comments on Ticats won’t bid for CFL Week until stadium litigation resolved

  1. Wingback // March 26, 2018 at 8:53 pm //

    It’s got to go east next year. Ottawa seems like the safest choice, but I say Montreal. A heavy presence of Laval and Montreal players could hopefully spark interest.

    Congratulations to Winnipeg on a successful event.

    • Have to agree. Eastern fans are unlikely to to travel west to attend such an event leaving a portion of the CFL market *out in the cold* when it comes to CFL week. Edmonton has the 2018 GC so moving CFL week to the east should be a priority – providing there is a team bidding to host it.

  2. Players Paradise is definitely not 30kms from downtown Hamilton. Id be shocked if it were even 20kms.

  3. Billinburlington // March 26, 2018 at 8:58 pm //

    I’m not surprised that the litigation is also holding up CFL week in Hamilton too. It is a ball and chain around this team, the stadium and the City of Hamilton since problems began.

    Drew… please do an article on the status of the legal issues and the time line for a resolution. Let us know how long this sordid affair will continue to hold the team and City back.

    I think McMaster would be a good location for the combine; although I’m unsure of the public seating area. Copps Colleseum/ First Ontario Centre might also work; not sure THF would be suitable without the dome.

    • You can’t have a combine at a University in the middle of the school year, the gym and facilities will all be in use.
      Maybe at the arena? they are running 40 yards which can be run inside.

  4. Always was always will be a tale of 2 cities …mountain and lower city council has never been able to agree or get along to bring this city together as one doesn’t seem like any of this litigation is moving forward and I for one am not getting my hopes up for the cats and the city to host anything in the near future . I’m now waiting for my opportunity to check out the festivies from another cfl city when my cats make it to the big game . Hopefully this Nov!

    • most lower city councillors have never been up the mountain, they have no idea whats going on up here. in case one of them can read and they read this…3/4’s of hamiltons population is now on the mountain and growing! give that timbit stadium to some soccer players and build a proper professional stadium on the mountain with parking ya morons!

      • I have a piece of Ivor Wynne bench in my garage if you want to come over and sit on it for three hours…THF is a pretty good upgrade…sure there could have been more but you hillbillies were unwilling to pay into it.

  5. Kinda cool this CFL Week has taken hold. A nice publicity generator for the league and some cash for the clubs… everyone wins. I think this was the past Commissioner Jeffery Orridge’s brainthrust. He did a lot of good things… perhaps a little too fast for the Board of Governors liking.

  6. creekerbob // March 26, 2018 at 9:24 pm //

    Edmonton? Get the CUP and CFL WEEK in the same year. NO, No, NO, spread the wealth except for Hamilton that deserves zilch due to the city fathers because they will screw it up.

    • Green&Gold // March 26, 2018 at 11:08 pm //

      I have to agree. Its a small league. Spread the wealth and don’t overdo it in one place.

  7. I agree Drew, the host football club needs to do a better job in marketing the evening events. They were poorly attended both nights. Had the Bombers emailed season ticket holders and offered some door prizes like single game tickets or signed jerseys I bet the crowds at night would have been better. You can’t just leave it up to the CFL office to market the evening events. Wade Miller knows better than that

  8. It wouldn’t make much sense to have CFL Week in Halifax just yet. Just focus on the current franchises for now

  9. Get this lawsuit bullshit over and done with! Us tax paying citizens are losing money missing out on these events!! Greycup, CFL WEEK!! Enough is enough!!

  10. thats Hamilton for you are they still holding out for a NHL team bring on the CFL draft and get the season underway..

  11. The stadium!! What a joke.I know who’s making money and doesn’t want this to end……LAWYER’S

    • The litigation will probably drag on for another five years. A Grey Cup bid could be for the 2023 season.

  12. Edward Leslie // March 27, 2018 at 5:44 am //

    timbits: Hamilton might just get an NHL team finally… Ottawa’s! Back when they gave Ottawa the Senators, most figured Hamilton would get the team. They had the new Copps Coliseum, while Ottawa just had the old Ottawa Civic Centre.
    They only gave the team to Ottawa because they didn’t want to anger nearby Toronto and Buffalo. Now the old Copps Coliseum probably isn’t suitable, nor is Ottawa’s rink.
    Good thing both cities have nice new football stadiums anyway.

    • Seriously? an NHL team………
      The arena which was built in 1984 is outdated with no private boxes and not NHL ready. They would have to build another arena somewhere.
      Even Ottawa’s arena built in 1998 is outdated and they are going to build a new one.
      The Sens are not moving, yes their attendance is down but to still get 14k or 15k for a last place team that is out of the playoffs at the ridiculous high prices is pretty good. Quebec City has just spent $500 Million on a new arena, they would be a logical place for a re-location of the franchise if it was moving.
      There is no way that Hamiltonians would pay those prices to watch the NHL, especially if the team was out of the playoffs.

      • The last time that Hamilton had a professional hockey team, the AHL team, they were averaging around 1,500 fans per game!! they folded/moved.
        No way that the NHL would award or approve a team in Hamilton even with a new state of the art arena

        • Steve J. // March 28, 2018 at 1:18 pm //

          London Knights of the OHL average about 9,000 per game. I know the new Hamilton Bulldogs OHL franchise are having a great season, and are averaging three times what the AHL team drew (4,250 per game). Still, not enough to entice a potential NHL franchise.

    • No, the NHL gave the 1990 expansion teams to Ottawa and Tampa Bay because they were the two teams that didn’t object to or try to renegotiate the $50 million expansion fee.

      According to Gil Stein’s book (he was the NHL president after John Ziegler and before Gary Bettman took over), Hamilton’s expansion’s presentation wowed the expansion committee, had them excited and made Hamilton the front runner. Then Ron Joyce took over and said to the expansion committee, “”$50 million? Never gonna happen. Let’s talk about a realistic figure.” Hamilton’s bid never had a chance after that.

  13. My season tickets are on hold until this organization shows the fans a series of moral and ethical decisions ! Last year has put a cloud over this franchise that will have long term ramifications !

  14. Hamilton is great city, but still seems like a tough place to do business.

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