A recent consultant's report shows Ivor Wynne Stadium requires between $50,000 to $75,000 in immediate structural improvements as part of a necessary $15 million upgrade over the next 10 years.
The repair bill has at least one Hamilton politician wondering whether it's time for council to jump-start talks with senior levels of government on a new facility, which could cost as much as $80 million.
"I think the time has come where we should sit with a number of the partners and start to look at all the options. Where do the major users of the facility see this going, how efficient is the place. We're at that point," said Councillor Bernie Morelli, a member of the city's culture and recreation committee in whose ward the stadium sits.
"It needs to be reviewed not only from the perspective of not only providing a safe facility from a structural point of view but whether it serves as a facility that is required in these times and those coming forward, given how football has moved forward," Morelli continued.
A resurgence in fan interest saw the Hamilton Tiger-Cats attract an average of more than 27,000 fans per game last season.
Morelli said there is no question the city will have to make the immediate repairs.
"We have a responsibility to ensure that it is safe because, quite frankly, to do otherwise would be totally irresponsible and probably criminal," he said.
In Hamilton's most recent Commonwealth Games bid, the city's pitch included the cost of constructing a $150 million stadium. But that project died when Commonwealth Games Canada selected Halifax to carry the country's hopes for the 2014 event.
The city recently hired a consultant to assess the 75-year-old facility and found the concrete seating slabs and support steel in the south and east portions of the stands "are beginning to show signs of deterioration" and should be replaced within the next decade.
"The assessment results have further concluded that the steel stairwells in all three bleachers are also showing signs of deterioration and that several stairs need immediate attention," states a recent report from Joe-Anne Priel, general manager of community services.
Cultural and recreation spokesman Dale Wood confirmed yesterday the city-owned facility requires $50,000 to $75,000 for the replacement of the steel stairwells.
"To do concrete repairs and steel repairs down the road it can get up to ... $15 million was the estimate in the report that was prepared. That's over a 10 year period," he said.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats, the facility's main tenant, are entering the third-year of their five-year lease. The club has already spent $3 million on stadium improvements, mainly to the press box and concessions, confirmed Christopher Dean, the club's general manager of business operations.
"We love Ivor Wynne and we want to work in partnership with the city," he said. "I think it's a dialogue we're going to have to have with the city as time moves forward."
The looming stadium repairs would seem to put on hold any plans the Ticats may have of bringing the Grey Cup to Steeltown anytime in the near future.