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Oshawa nixes plan for Pan-Am soccer stadium

Oshawa city councillor Robert Lutczyk sees a Pan-Am soccer stadium in a city cornfield. But he might be the only one.

Oshawa city council's strategic initiatives and development committee failed to pass a motion Monday put forward by Mr. Lutczyk that would have declared Oshawa a willing host of the 2015 Pan-Am soccer stadium.

Representatives from Oshawa City Hall said that no fixed address had been set for the proposed stadium that would serve as a temporary host for the Pan Am Games, but Mr. Lutczyk described a cornfield near the corner of Thorton Road South and Champlain Avenue in Oshawa's west end, just north of the VIA Rail station, which he calls "absolutely the best location bar none that's being looked at."

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He hopes the cornfield will become a permanent home for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the CFL team still roaming after disputes between team owner Bob Young and Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger have so far seen them unable to settle on a suitable location for a new stadium in Hamilton.

Mr. Young announced Monday that he would consider an alternative home for his Ticats in another area of the Hamilton, calling the previously proposed West Harbour district location unsuitable.

Councillor Lutczyk wants to keep Oshawa in the running, hanging his hopes on a second proposed motion to the development committee: to investigate the feasibility of a stadium. This move was inspired by a page-long letter from concerned citizen Kelly Maika, outlining in eight points the reasons the city should build the 25,000-seat soccer stadium, including short- and long-term job opportunities and the city's resident sports fans.

In her letter, Ms. Maika expressed regret that she could not attend the Monday morning council meeting. The letter criticizes the city for cancelling the first proposed special meeting that was to occur last Friday and lists reasons a soccer stadium would bode well for the city. The motion to investigate the feasibility of the stadium passed, with city staff set to get back with their findings on Sept. 7.

But some citizens aren't as keen as Mr. Lutczyk. Although 40-year Oshawa resident David Stewart is a football fan (he referees for the Oshawa Hawkeyes), and would like to see a large-capacity stadium in the city, he says, "It's not likely to happen any time soon. Talking about something and actually doing it are two different things."

Resident Gerry Linton, an accountant, moved to Oshawa from Port Perry just over one year ago, and he too expressed hope for the Oshawa CFL sports franchise but had little faith in city bureaucracy and money management.

"These are the same councillors who mismanage our property taxes. They can't manage the funding and construction of a stadium," he said.

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Councillor Lutczyk says his next step will be a personal invitation to Bob Young to come check out his proposed location - the cornfield, where the crop is already about six feet high.

Four other Pan-Am events are already scheduled for Oshawa, to be housed in existing facilities.

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