By Kevin Werner
The city of Hamilton and Infrastructure Ontario officials confirmed the $145.7 million Pan Am Stadium won’t be ready until the Hamilton Tiger-Cat’s Labour Day showdown with the Toronto Argonauts.
“It’s a good plan, it’s doable,” said Gerry Davis, public works general manager. “We are positive. But the work has got to get done.”
The plan includes allowing workers to be on site from six a.m. to midnight and adding more people. Davis said stadium needs to meet the criteria before the city will issue an occupancy permit.
“Most of the work is internal,” he said. “The people need to be safe.”
Ontario Sports Solutions, the consortium that is building the facility, presented its plan during a July 31 meeting to substantially complete the project to Hamilton officials, Infrastructure Ontario staff and the football club representatives.
“We were very pleased to hear (Ontario Sports Solutions) has a plan in place that will see Tim Hortons Field open for the Labour Day Classic,” said Glenn Gibson, Tiger-Cats President and CEO.
However, that means the team will have to hold its Aug. 16 home game against the Calgary Stampeders at McMaster University’s 6,000-seat Ron Joyce Stadium. The university has already hosted two Ticat home games in July because of the delay in construction.
“Those games were very successful,” said Gord Arbeau, McMaster University’s director of public and community relations.
He said the university is familiar with the size of the crowd, and was able to mitigate any potential parking and traffic problems.
On its website, the Tiger-Cats stated fans that have tickets for the Aug. 16 game will be issued a credit or refund for the full value of the game. Season ticket holders will be provided further details about how they can access tickets for the game at Ron Joyce Stadium.
City officials have already stated there won’t be any additional costs to Hamilton taxpayers for what could be a two-month delay in opening the stadium. The contractor had been contractually obligated to “substantially complete” the facility by June 30.
Infrastructure Ontario officials revealed last month the province is withholding about $89 million out of the $119 million from the contractor in an effort to get the job finished. About 580 workers are at the construction site daily, Ontario Sports Solutions says.
The developer is also contractually obligated to pay the Tiger-Cats $1 million for every home game missed to cover the team’s losses.
The club is entitled to recover all “provable damages resulting from delays and looks to the city to pursue those damages,” states a clause in the lease agreement the city signed with the club earlier this year.
In early February Infrastructure Ontario warned councillors and the Tiger-Cats to prepare contingency plans in case the facility wasn’t ready in time. In April the contractor promised to meet a July 26 deadline, the Tiger-Cats first home game, by double-shifting workers and working six days a week to make up for the estimated six weeks of lost time due to the severe winter.