Hamilton poised for a big-league sports team
For the better part of the last ten years, the city of Toronto has made leaps and bounds towards becoming a big market for major professional sports. The introduction of the Toronto FC to the growing Major League Soccer and the continuing initiative to bring an NFL team north of the 49th parallel are encouraging, at least within the greater Toronto area. However, for Canadian sports fans that don’t live in the 416, the picture is not as colourful.
There are a variety of questions being asked, and the answers seem simple enough to nullify most excuses for non-existent franchises. What exactly does it take to become an attractive destination for North America’s professional sports leagues? If the argument is strictly fiscal, Fort McMurray in Alberta could support a team or two on its own.
If the argument is based on population, then any city of comparable size to Winnipeg should be able to sell out an arena, no problem. Though, if that were the case, a city like Hamilton would be a great fit for a big pro franchise.
Not to take away from the loveable Tabbies, who have a new stadium on the way as they play out their final days at Ivor Wynne this season, but a new professional franchise could do wonders for the rejuvenation of Canada’s Steel City.
Let us be real for a second; if not for the green-eyed leadership of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the Hamilton ‘insert name here’ could be playing at the newly renovated RIM Centre. Furthermore, a new Ti-Cats complex could double as a home for the MLS – just to throw some ideas out there.
The city of Hamilton definitely has the heart and soul of any faithful fan base; after all, McMaster’s Ron Joyce Stadium sells out each home-game Saturday to the tune of some six thousand fans.
Even aside from the 700,000 people in Hamilton’s metro area, there are millions of people west of the Hammer whose only taste of pro sport requires either a pricey trip to the nation’s financial capital or a decent wait at the border just to catch a glimpse of the beautiful city that is Buffalo, New York.
It seems almost shameful that one of the most prosperous countries in the world is home to a disproportionate amount of teams. Some cities are far from ready, but have potential. Others, like Hamilton, lie waiting for their chance to shine.
Not to be forgotten are the abysmal attempts of the NBA’s Vancouver Grizzlies and MLB’s Montreal Expos to endure. The departure of those franchises left Toronto as Canada’s sole representation in both leagues.
Should one city really be the only representation of an entire country? The fact that Canada, geographically speaking, is the world’s second largest country makes this even more embarrassing.
Though there is great risk involved, professional sports should be a focal point of municipalities from coast to coast. And, yes, logistics can be argued tooth and nail, but there isn’t a person in Hamilton that wouldn’t be proud to join the ranks of big-league sports in North America.