The Hamilton Spectator
Brantford council giddy over Bulldogs
‘Everywhere you look, it’s nothing but a win,’ the mayor says
Can you tell I’m excited? Thank you for choosing Brantford. RICHARD CARPENTER BRANTFORD COUNCILLOR
Watching Brantford city council debate — though that really isn’t the right word since it was essentially an acclamation — bringing the Hamilton Bulldogs to town for at least three years was something.
Tuesday night’s meeting was smiles and laughter and one councillor even wearing a hockey sweater during the discussions. It was unbridled exhilaration at the city’s good fortune for the next few seasons. Maybe beyond.
Quite simply, it was joyful. You’d really have to dig into the dark recesses of your memory to find anything that Hamilton council has embraced so wholeheartedly and thrown its unanimous support behind with an equal level of enthusiasm that bordered on giddiness. Sports or not.
Hey, Brantford council can be as dour and cantankerous and divided as ours. But not this night. It was — brace yourself for this — actually excited about having a hockey team. Councillors cheerfully talked about all the good things it would bring and how thrilled the locals were to have an Ontario Hockey League squad back in town after 40 years.
Rather than being treated as an afterthought or even a nuisance, Bulldogs owner Michael Andlauer and some staff were treated like royalty as they sat in the gallery.
“Welcome,” offered Coun. Greg Martin.
“Can you tell I’m excited?” asked Coun. Richard Carpenter in his hockey sweater. “Thank you for choosing Brantford.”
“Happy to have you here,” said Coun. Michael Sullivan.
“A very, very warm welcome to Brantford,” said Coun. Linda Hunt.
“You’ve been renovated out of your facilities and we’re renovating you into our facilities,” said Coun. Brian Van Tilborg. “And we’re so happy to do that.”
“It’s going to mean so much to our community to have the Bulldogs come,” said Coun. Mandy Samwell.
“Looks like our hockey town is finally going to get our hockey team we can rally around,” said Coun. Rose Sicoli.
“Many people, even those who don’t closely follow hockey, I see them beaming,” said Mayor Kevin Davis.
“Not only with just enthusiasm but community pride. Because it’s clear that there’s few things that bring us together like sports,” Davis said.
It went on and on. Unsurprisingly, the motion to adopt the team passed 11-0. Which all made a viewer wonder, who’s missing the mark here?
Is it the nearly rapturous group who some might believe is a little too excited about getting a team? Or is it the crew back in our city hall who generally appear to have about as much concern for the Bulldogs as they do for the perilous plight of the Yangtze finless porpoise?
No doubt some will say it’s the latter. It’s just a junior hockey team. Relax.
Perhaps. But, as that city’s councillors started talking about civic pride and community building and a winning team and economic benefits and having someone pay to keep the lights on in the arena and hundreds of thousands of dollars donated by the franchise to local charities, you couldn’t help but think, this isn’t a small deal to them.
Nor to the local fans. In just a few hours on Wednesday, the team had expected more than 1,000 deposits for season tickets — nearly matching the total for this year in Hamilton. That total will easily be surpassed.
Watching all this, Andlauer must’ve felt like he was in another dimension. Or that maybe somebody had spiked his coffee with something strong and rather delightful. Being appreciated isn’t his default position. This had to be quite wonderful.
“It’s a win, it’s a win, it’s a win,” the mayor said. “Everywhere you look, it’s nothing but a win.”
As he said this with the zeal of a preacher, you wondered if he and his colleagues are simply a little overexcited. Or if they recognize something that we never have.