The latest news on the stadium front has the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in talks with a private interest to build a new stadium in Burlington, east of the Aldershot GO Station. The team would still be called the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The stadium proposal is the latest shot at the can to give the Cats a new home despite not reaching a deal with Hamilton.
According to The Spec, a rep from the Pan Am organising committee has stated the proposal is premature as the city of Hamilton has not formally turned down a stadium. Also residents of Burlington interviewed by CHCH stated they didn’t want any tax dollars going to fund a stadium.
Let us assume for a moment that this site is chosen and a stadium is built, essentially relocating the team across the bay. How will fans from Hamilton get to the game?
I am a heavy user of public transportation in Hamilton and use the HSR to get to and from games. The ‘2 Barton’ bus is often filled to capacity on game days with similar people going to the game, as are other routes that pass near the stadium. Public transportation is heavily used to go to the games.
The city of Hamilton also provides four express shuttle routes, which operate every 20-30 minutes on game day to and from the stadium. The shuttles run from Limeridge Mall (mountain), Eastgate Square (Stoney Creek), University Plaza (Dundas) and Hamilton Downtown to the games.
The shuttles are provided free of charge.
In fact, on game day for a few hours before the game until several hours after the game, a trip on any HSR bus is free to anyone with a ticket to the Ticats game.
Parking is never an issue because the express shuttles also operate as a park-and-ride service. Fans can drive to one of the four points (all with massive adjoining parking lots) and take the bus directly to the stadium. There are no parking troubles or traffic woes.
How will a stadium move affect those fans in Hamilton who take the bus to the game?
I don’t believe that city would continue to operate the Tiger-Cats Express shuttle service were the team to relocate to Burlington. While I don’t know the financial costs (it can’t be cheap to run 8-10 buses free of charge) it wouldn’t make fiscal sense to continue the service. Hamilton would be getting zero economic benefits from the team while continuing to spend on the service. There would be no economic spin-offs from visitors coming into the city, just expenses in busing Hamiltonians to Burlington.
Something would clearly need to be done as, while there is local bus service from Burlington Transit, there isn’t enough service to handle the amount of people going to the games.
Burlington Transit (BT) Route 1 operates from downtown Hamilton to Aldershot GO. This service, during times when games would occur, travels at a frequency of 30 minutes. This would not be nearly frequent enough as the buses are already nearly at capacity with normal use. With an influx of added passengers now wanting to make the trip, Burlington Transit would need to increase the frequency of buses by more than double.
Clearly the only way to get the number of people to the game at an Aldershot location would be to find some sort of deal between Hamilton and Burlington to work out a transit plan for the corridor. Perhaps if GO Transit’s Lakeshore West expansion is on track (no pun intended) by 2015 I could take the GO train from James North GO to Aldershot.
So many ‘if’ statements. Let’s see what happens.