Whiffing on CFL Week another example of Hamilton’s lack of vision

The news last week that Hamilton won’t make a bid to host CFL Week until litigation regarding Tim Hortons Field is resolved was disappointing to read.

Disappointing not just as a fan of the Ticats, but as a resident of Hamilton.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m plenty mad as a football fan in Hamilton who will have to continue to wait for a major CFL event to come to my city, but I am more angry at the fact that the city will miss out on showcasing itself to the country.

I came back to Hamilton in 2009 after spending many years living, working and going to school in Toronto. The transformation I have seen this city take over the last nine years is something I wouldn’t have believed possible when I left in 2002.

Hamilton is a trendy city to live in. Our city is making lists of places to visit. Hamilton has some of the best, hip, innovative restaurants in the Golden Horseshoe. Hamilton is a city that needs to be shown off to the country and hosting CFL Week would have been a great way to do that.

But, sadly, the people who run this city don’t feel the same.

While I don’t like that Hamilton continues to wait to host a Grey Cup — 22 years and counting, in case you forgot — I get it. You kind of need a stadium to host a football game, and I understand the city wanting to make sure everything is settled with stadium lawsuits before we host the marquee event on the CFL calendar.

But CFL Week? Aside from the Hall of Fame announcement, there wasn’t one other event held at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg during last week’s CFL Week extravaganza. So if you can’t, or don’t want to, use Tim Hortons Field, don’t. You can always hold the Hall of Fame announcement somewhere else.

Hamilton is equipped to host all the CFL Week events — do the combine at Players Paradise in Stoney Creek (which is about 30km from downtown Hamilton) and host the fan fest at the convention centre — so it makes no sense to use stadium litigation as a reason to not bid to host CFL Week.

And why not use hosting CFL Week as a way to do a dry run before bidding on a Grey Cup? You can work out any logistical kinks with a lower stakes event and not face the wrath of anyone if things don’t go exactly as planned.

But instead we get reasons why not instead of the forward thinking you would hope would come from a city council who should be proud to show off what has become of the city.

As a Ticats fan, I’m sick of every other CFL community getting to enjoy being a full member of the league as we “wait for our turn” like the good little soldiers Hamilton fans have been for over two decades. I don’t hold it against any other city that gets to enjoy all the perks of having a CFL team, but that still doesn’t mean I’m not tired of having to travel elsewhere to enjoy everything being a CFL fan has to offer.

But as a Hamilton resident, I’m tired of living in a place where the people who run the city treat progress like a disease that needs to be quarantined.

Maybe one day we will get people in power who understand what an event like CFL Week could do for our city. Instead of giving us lame excuses why not, they’ll jump in feet first and we can show what kind of city Hamilton has become.


One day.

But unfortunately that day doesn’t seem to be today.

Josh Smith has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.