Cost of Canadian Open wrongly kept from public

This article, from June 27, calls for greater transparency as the City is set to host the 2024 Canadian Open.

Hello Ward 8 Neighbours,

With Hamilton set to host the 2024 RBC Canadian Open at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club, Ward 8 councillor John-Paul Danko believes that details on the financials should be made public.

For more details, please continue reading below…

“I think the discussion about the financials should be public,” Coun. John-Paul Danko told the Hamilton Spectator on June 26.

According to the Spec, Cllr. Danko and a few other councillors argue the public should have been told what it will cost Hamilton to host the RBC Canadian Open in 2024 before staff were directed to firm up arrangements with private organizers.

That’s why he voted against telling city staff to finalize agreements with the PGA Tour event’s organizers earlier this week.

The original plan was to hold the professional golf tournament in 2023 at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club, but that was delayed due to the pandemic.

Danko told the Spec that the city is bearing a “fairly substantial cost” to hold the tournament at the Ancaster club, but those details are enshrouded in the confidentiality of private council sessions.

On June 23, Council voted 11-4 giving staff the go-ahead to finalize arrangements for the June 5 to 11, 2024, tournament.

The RBC Canadian Open, which is organized by Golf Canada and the PGA Tour, has been held at the Hamilton Golf and Country Club six times.

The last time the HGCC hosted the event, in 2019, it attracted 120,000 fans with a North American broadcast audience of about 17 million views, a city staff report noted.

York University public policy expert, Zachary Spicer, questions private talks on the topic.

“Without knowing what the actual contents are, it sounds to me that this is something that should be made public,” Spicer told the Spec.

Spicer also contended the argument that the city could be “undercut” by another municipality “doesn’t really hold up” since each has its “unique set of assets” to offer.

In Hamilton’s case, it’s a “world-class golf course,” Spicer said.

“I don’t think anything nefarious is actually happening here. I think it’s just that there are economic benefits, and if they outweigh the costs, let the public know that” Spicer would go on to add.

Late last year after a private session, at Councillor Danko’s behest, most of council agreed to release financial details of the still-secret RBC Canadian Open proposed event — but after agreements are finalized.

On Friday, a city spokesperson said contracts the city signs with event organizers, including Golf Canada, “are confidential.”

But once staff finish negotiations “later this year,” the event costs will be made public in keeping with council’s direction the spokesperson told the Spec.

Councillor Danko argues that information — which ultimately must be reflected in budget documents — should have been public from the outset, especially if it involves the deep-pocketed PGA Tour.

“When you have a for-profit organization that makes tons and tons of money, that’s being subsidized or funded by taxpayers’ dollars, I think that changes the conversation on the event.” he told the Spec.

Councillor Danko also added that “The last time it was here it was a great event.”

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