Infrastructure Ontario has raised the spectre of longer construction delays at Tim Hortons Field by recommending a football contingency plan in case the $145-million stadium doesn't open on time.
The warning came in a letter from IO executive vice-president John McKendrick to city manager Chris Murray and follows a late January revelation that stadium construction was two weeks behind because of bad weather and a bankrupt masonry contractor.
But Hamilton Tiger-Cats CEO Scott Mitchell said Wednesday night he remains confident the June 30 completion date will be met.
"There's nothing that should come as a surprise from this (letter)," he said.
The Ticats also have some breathing room with a later-than-normal home opener July 26. But the letter from IO is dated two days after the Feb. 12 schedule announcement.
The Spectator couldn't reach a representative from Ontario Sports Solutions late Wednesday, but the letter from McKendrick says the builder "continues to assert" it can make up for lost time and meet the end of June completion date.
"Notwithstanding (the builder's) commitment … I strongly recommend that the City of Hamilton communicate with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to contemplate a contingency plan in the event" of a delay, reads the letter. "It is in the City's best interests in any claim associated with any delay that mitigation strategies were contemplated early."
The letter is good news for Hamilton taxpayers, said public works head Gerry Davis, because it spells out the city is entitled to recover any losses caused by delays in opening the stadium. "Whatever happens, we're not on the hook for additional dollars," he said.
Davis said he hasn't received an estimate from either IO or the builder on how far behind the stadium construction is now, but noted "there is obviously a message" in the letter.
"Everyone can see it's been a tough winter. They lost a good contractor unexpectedly and they were on a tight timeline to begin with," he said. "They're facing some significant challenges in hitting the completion date."
Davis added an "independent certifier" is supposed to report on stadium progress for IO in the coming days.
In late January, stadium site supervisor Garreth Barkey said crews were being double-shifted over six-day weeks to make up the delays caused by a lost masonry contractor and bad weather.
Several councillors told The Spectator Wednesday they thought the massive building project was still making up for lost time. "That was my impression," said Councillor Sam Merulla following a public update and later closed-door session on the stadium lease.
"But I am just thrilled we have it in black and white now, right from the province, that if there is a delay, the taxpayer is protected."
Councillor Lloyd Ferguson, the city's Pan Am subcommittee chair, said he didn't want to "mislead" the public with rosy projections.
"Look, if they get favorable weather, you can get a lot done. But this has always been an extremely aggressive timeline and this has been a brutal winter," said Ferguson, who spent 30 years in the construction industry.
"I'm encouraged (the builders) still say they can get it done by the agreed upon date, but I don't want to mislead anyone. It will be tough."
The stadium is now more than halfway done and has up to 130 workers on site each day, often for extended hours. The project has so far survived delayed steel installation, rumours of soil instability and allegations by a local contractor of corner-cutting on electrical installation.
Scott Mitchell remains confident that the June 30 completion date will be met? LOL. Shades of Garth Buchko. Was the build price fixed or are going to be extra costs by increasing the number of workers and work hrs?
How recent is the pic in that photo? If that's any indication of the current state they won't be ready in time IMO. There's still a ton of concrete work to do. Even the finishes can take a long time.
Aren't they using Mac for training camp and their preseason game? Wondering if they can make it work with McMaster this time around as a failsafe since it would be for less than a full season instead of going back over to Guelph.
This is the most shocking news I've ever heard in my life, I was so sure and had been assured by many that the stadium would completed on time and maybe even with time to spare. /sarcasm
Always going to feel bad for Garth Buchko (in terms of the whole stadium situation), he basically became the face of the stadium fiasco and all he did was tell people what he was told (by the Board and Stuart Olson Dominion). Then again keeping Joe Mack around was just plain stupid.
He did plenty of that on his own. Anyway he's protected, the tax payers have to sponge any of his lost revenues. So they will squeeze McMaster and the Province will have to pickup the 5 to 10 million in lost revenues and cut him a cheque.
Told them last year the place would likely not be ready till the end of August and Labour day would likely be when they would hold their first game and was told I knew nothing and Infrastructure Ontario is always on time and the fines would force the contractor to miraculously have it done on time.
none of this would be an issue whatsoever had the new stadium been placed elsewhere in Hamilton
Depends where that place would have been. For example, if it was at West Harbour where orginally there was a marsh of some sort apparently under the ground as well as soil that is contaminated by the old Rheem plant, who knows how long that might have delayed construction.
But tangledweb's point Earl I assume is that were the new stadium some place else - even with delays - until it was ready the old Ivor Wynne could have been used with no need for an entire season plus possibly more being played in tiny, inconvenient temporary, reduced revenue facilities like Guelph and Mac.
That does not address the funding issue. The reason why it was built on the old site is because there simply was not enough money to build it elsewhere on paper at least.
What the real story in the end will be that if you add the extra funds required to rebuild the entire second stand instead of renovating it ( was "discovered" after construction began), the soft costs associated with relocating the team for a year and the costs of sponging the Ticat losses if the stadium is late. There will be no savings. This stadium when the expenses are aggregated from all the various funding sources will be very close to what the Winnipeg Stadium cost and Young will share part of the responsibility for it.
The only reason it was built on the old site is because every other site they were looking at became a political football and pissing match between the city and Ti-Cats. Over years options were either ruled out by the Cats or the city until it was at a point that the only way they were going to get ANY Pan Am funding for a stadium was to build it where it is where no new approvals were needed as the existing land was already approved for a sports stadium.
We are where we are because they had wasted three years and were at the point that all Pan Am funding was about to be pulled in which case the Cats would have been stuck with the losing money Ivor Wynne Stadium situation they were in - with then a good chance of the team folding or moving because of that. It was a debacle well chronicled in the City and Stadium thread in Ti-Cats chat.
If the final tally on the Ticats stadium hits anywhere near $200 million that would be a huge disappointment considering the design without any roof and the open back doesn't really warrant that high a cost. It's unfortunate too because there seemed to be quite a delay after the old stadium was demolished before work was started on the new design. Maybe that was related to the soil issue? That delay really unfortunately pushed too much work into the winter months and the unpredictability of the weather. I'm thinking about the same as you mentioned earlier HFxTC, I think aside from some finishing touches they maybe open the stadium for the return of the Labour Day game.
But in the end, a new stadium is happening and in a part of Hamilton that can use any help it can get. That is excellent even if this coming year will be problematic and disruptive as was last year although last year was fine with the Guelph stadium. In the long course of years, it will be worth it I think.