Silent funder might inflate velodrome hopes
“All I can say is it would be a sizeable help if it comes through,” said Gord Singleton, a former cycling world champion who joined the local velodrome fundraising campaign in the fall.
Singleton said he’s been told not to discuss the source or amount of the mystery money, but Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina said in a radio interview Friday an “interested prospective partner” has surfaced and “several million dollars is being talked about.”
“We’re not out of the game yet in regards to the velodrome,” he said in the interview.
That was news to Milton Councillor Mike Cluett.
Pan Am officials appeared to rule out Hamilton as a velodrome site earlier this month when they announced Milton as the preferred host pending the signing of a funding agreement by Jan. 24.
“Milton will have to decline (the velodrome) before Hamilton would ever be considered,” said Cluett via email. “Mayor Bratina now realizes that with all (council’s) dithering around they lost the opportunity … Hamilton had many opportunities but didn’t get the job done.”
The Spectator couldn’t reach a Pan Am official Tuesday to comment on whether a beefed-up Hamilton bid would be considered.
Hamilton started out as the preferred velodrome location but lost that status in October after Pan Am officials rejected the city’s $5-million offer towards a facility that could cost $45 million.
Milton plans to commit even less taxpayer cash to the facility, but has announced close to $9 million in private pledges from firms and foundations headed by Mattamy Homes president Peter Gilgan.
Singleton said he thought the secret funding boost under discussion locally could “swing the momentum back” to Hamilton, noting the Milton bid and funding sources aren’t finalized.
News of the funding boost had yet to widely circulate at City Hall Tuesday. Several councillors said they were unaware the extra funding had been secured, while others said they weren’t pleased to learn of the project’s resurrection.
“I believe this unaffordable velodrome is an unfortunate expense and cost to the residents of Hamilton,” said Councillor Sam Merulla. “Milton is geographically close enough for Hamilton residents to access without having to spend $5 million.”
The Spectator couldn’t reach Bratina Tuesday for additional information about the mystery funding. His chief of staff, Peggy Chapman, said the mayor wouldn’t be available for an interview until January.
Mark Chamberlain, the chair of the fundraising cabinet, didn’t respond to requests for an interview Tuesday. Vocal campaign cabinet member Andrew Iler wouldn’t confirm or deny the donation report, but said the group hasn’t given up on winning the velodrome and continues to chase donations big and small.
The fundraising cabinet, which includes several high-profile cyclists such as Singleton, Curt Harnett and Clara Hughes, announced earlier this month it had raised more than $1 million through smaller donations.