The news media in Canada, and in particular my hometown of Hamilton, has been buzzing about the possibility of an NHL team moving into our Copps Coliseum. This very blog has featured my argument in favour of moving more teams to Canada. On Tuesday word leaked, or was announced, that Jim Balsille would invest $30 million to improve the arena in downtown Hamilton. That is great news for HECFI. He also announced that he will seek government support to pay the additional $120 million or so needed to fully upgrade that facility. It is at this point that I depart the “let’s bring a team to Hamilton” train. I support infrastructure investment when it will demonstrably improve our community. Highways, roads, parks, hospitals, housing, shelters, utilities, and even cultural institutions are some examples of prudent government investment. I am also in favour of putting more money into eliminating poverty in our country, which has been at an unacceptable level for over 30 years. Our health care system has issues, and according to a recent Hamilton Spectator series, childhood mental illnesses are dangerously underfunded. I could make a list of 50 other programs, services, or projects that should get $130 million of government money before Copps Coliseum. Politicians like the good publicity of large scale projects like arena improvements, but all too often they end up as loses on the ledger book, and fail to provide the expected boost. The argument that having an NHL team will somehow spur on the Hamilton economy is, based on all available research into this topic, a fantasy. I am in favour of moving a hockey team into this city if it is fully supported by private money. Jim Balsille is a very wealthy man and since he seems to want a team in his own backyard, he should pay for that privilege. Local hockey fans will have to pay for the joy of seeing his team in action, we should not have to pay to improve the arena for his use. Save taxpayer money for cash strapped services that improve the quality of life for Hamiltonians, Ontarians and Canadians.
I Make The Dough And You Get The Glory