Hamilton getting an all-sports radio station (likely TSN)


Hamilton’s media world will move into a new universe Thursday afternoon when it’s announced that the city will be getting its first all-sports radio station.

The Spectator has learned that the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are partnering with an as-yet-unnamed media group in establishing the new station and that the partnership will be made public Thursday.

“I have no comment, ” Ticats chief executive Scott Mitchell said late Wednesday afternoon.

While the identity of the Ticats’ partner is not known, it almost certainly has to be TSN, which is owned by Bell Media. It also owns Hamilton radio stations Funny 820 and CKOC, and is the sole TV broadcast partner of the Canadian Football League.

It is not likely the team would invest in such a major partnership with any competitor – such as Sportsnet – of TSN, the national all-sports network that has helped to completely change, for the positive, the financial fortunes of the CFL over the past decade.

TSN has all-sports stations in several major Canadian cities, and some of them hold them hold the broadcast rights for the local CFL team. Last week, TSN’s parent company, Bell Media, and Toronto businessman Larry Tanenbaum bought the Argonauts from Hamilton’s David Braley. Their games were already being broadcast on TSN’s Toronto radio station.

The Tiger-Cats have not renewed their radio broadcast-rights contract with CHML for the 2015 season, so it’s anticipated that part of Thursday’s announcement will be that Ticat games will be on the new station, on a long-term basis.

The CFL is holding a major meet-and-greet with major supporters, partners, advertisers and sponsors Thursday night at Toronto’s Exhibition Place, and it’s expected the new Hamilton station will be a major topic of conversation there.

The Spectator has so far been unable to determine when the new station will launch its full all-sports format, but it will be sometime this calendar year.

And it’s anticipated that Ticat games will be carried by the new station from opening day, regardless of whether the rest of the station’s formatting has been established. That format is still a work in progress.

As The Spectator reported last year, the Ticats have also been central to investigating the potential of developing either a new men’s professional soccer league for Canada or a Canadian division of an existing pro league. TSN fits that need, too. It’s broadcasting the 2015 Women’s World Cup, and would likely look favourably upon partnering with a new soccer league, as it does with the CFL.

Combined with this summer’s Pan Am Games, improving GO Service, the building boom downtown and the switch from quaint but unprofitable Ivor Wynne Stadium to the modern economics of Tim Hortons’ Field, an all-sports radio station would be another important part of the emerging portrait of the New Hamilton.