Bob Young is a rich man used to getting his way. That he apparently won't when it comes to the location of a new stadium in Hamilton, a building that would theoretically house his perenially lousy Tiger-Cats, has to be really bugging him.
After all, it wasn't that long ago that Young was touted as a civic hero for buying the Cats out of insolvency, an Ancaster boy who said he was realizing a dream by buying the football club he grew up loving.
Well, the love affair ended a while ago. Young has done a lamentable job of bringing winning football back to Hamilton - the team hasn't been to the Grey Cup since 1999 - and his attempt this week to try and scare Hamilton city council to put the stadium designed for the 2015 Pan-Am Games at his desired location has apparently fallen on deaf ears.
Hard to say who is right in this debate. As a born and bred Hamiltonian, I have seen the downtown core deteriorate drastically over the past 40 years, nothing like my youth when we'd go ride the classic elevator at the Right House near Gore Park just for fun. The West Hamilton bay location where city fathers would like the stadium to go has slowly improved over the past 20 years, but it's not easy to get to. They want it there in hope that it might, maybe, help revitalize the downtown core. Look around, and it's happened that way in more than a few North American cities.
Young, meanwhile, couldn't care less about downtown revitalization. He wants the stadium on the east mountain, in the burbs, really, where new highways have created access and visibility. That makes some sense, too. His frustration with the process is understandable in a city where politics have created all kinds of development issues.
But this was always going to be a negotiation, and while Young can huff and puff, his football team supplies nine dates a year out of 365 days, although if he could organize a team capable of making the playoffs he might manage another one or two. That might make him the main tenant, but running a money-losing team that usually loses more than it wins does not exactly give him a big hammer to wield. That tiny Regina has built a strong team on community ownership during the same period where Richie Rich has turned the Cats into a consistent cellar dwellar doesn't exactly speak to his expertise.
So Young threatens to what, move the team? To where, exactly. Not Burlington. Ottawa? They're slated for expansion, and nobody really knows if even that will happen. Then there's Quebec City and Moncton and a bunch of other places, and we're supposed to believe a CFL team is going to abandon southern Ontario and Hamilton, and the new stadium that will apparently be built one way or another, for another Canadian city where no stadium exists? C'mon.
Young may not like the West Hamilton location but he undoubtedly doesn't like where Ivor Wynne is, either. Maybe he knows better, but maybe he doesn't. Maybe he knows how to run a CFL team - he's been botching the job on this one since 2004 - and maybe he doesn't.
But apparently he isn't likely to get his way on this stadium. If he doesn't want to be part of the Tiger-Cats future, he can sell the team. Or try to. But moving it? Not a chance. Teams fold in the CFL and sometimes come back, but they don't move. No viable markets, you see. So Young should swallow his pride and ego, cut his best deal or get out. Empty threats are a waste of everyone's time.
If he does decide to conclude his ownership of the team, it's not exactly like a golden era in Hamilton football will come to a close.