By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Hamilton politicians and city officials are looking to the provincial government to cover up to $2 million in lost revenue to the city and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats if the new Ivor Wynne Stadium isn’t ready by its July 1, 2014 completion date.
City officials have talked to Tiger-Cat representatives about the possibility that the club may have to miss a home game if the $154-million facility isn’t ready by the July 1 date.
Scott Mitchell, president of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, said the club could lose anywhere between $1.6 million to $2 million in revenue, while the city would forego about $200,000 from one home date.
“It would be a big impact on the city to lose (the money),” said Mitchell. “The city is concerned. But nobody is anything but positive that the stadium will be ready in time. (The request to the province) is a smart thing to do.”
Tony Tollis, Hamilton’s treasurer, asked during a Pan Am Precinct sub-committee meeting March 26, if Infrastructure Ontario could guarantee the city it would be reimbursed in any lost revenue or added expenses if the stadium isn’t ready on time.
But John McKendrick, senior vice president, AFP and Major Projects for Infrastructure Ontario, said he didn’t have the authority to make that guarantee to the municipality.
“It would require the commitment of the minister of Infrastructure Ontario,” said McKendrick.
Ward 3 councillor Bernie Morelli urged the subcommittee to approve a motion to ask the provincial government to indemnify the city for any costs in case the stadium isn’t ready.
“What we are trying to do is save us an expense that could occur if (the stadium) goes south,” he said.
The motion is expected to be debated at the March 28 council meeting.
McKendrick insisted that everything is being done to make sure the stadium and all the other venues for the 2015 Pan Am Games, will be ready by the deadline.
He reiterated the province and Toronto 2015 Pan Am organization committee’s statement that the games are being conducted “on time, and on budget.”
The province has already guaranteed it will cover any cost overruns of the games.
He said for instance, the companies that are awarded contracts for the venues, will need to borrow the money to begin the work. If the company doesn’t meet the deadlines that the province has established, the province won’t them for any work done, he said. And since the companies will still have to pay the interest on the loans they have taken out for the capital projects, the financial penalties could be very steep, he said. McKendrick estimated companies could be facing at least $25,000 per day in interest if they don’t meet the deadline.
“When you get $25,000, $50,000 per day in interest charges, you tend to get focused,” he said.
The timeline to build the stadium and the other venues remains tight. The provincial government recently extended the request for proposals process on the stadium, velodrome and athletic facility from the end of March to May 24. The province will evaluate the RFPs over the next two months, with a bid being awarded in June. It will be another two months for the winning company to sign the contract with the province, expected sometime in September. The Tiger-Cats will still play out their 2012 season, but they will have to vacate the venue by Dec. 2, 2012. The construction will be monitored by the city, IO and Toronto 2015 to make sure all targets are met.
“I think we have lined up all the ducks, to make sure (missed deadlines) are highly unlikely,” said McKendrick.
Meanwhile, city officials revealed it will cost less to oversee the Pan Am 2015 activities in Hamilton that was previously proposed. Initially, the city was told it would cost about $2.8 million in operating costs over the next four years for the Pan Am Games. But Coralee Secore, manager of Pan Am Initiatives, said it will not cost about $1.5 million.
For 2012, the cost is estimated to be $340,300, which will include two full-time employees. In 2013, the budget dips to $299,250, but in 2014, the budget jumps to $389,700, and three full-time staff. In 2015, the budget is projected to be $463,500.
The subcommittee approved the 2012 Pan Am budget, which will now go to the next government issues committee meeting.
The money is for administrative expenses, including a new office, and mileage. It does not cover the cost to provide a practice facility or dressing rooms for the Tiger-Cats.