By Kevin Werner, News Staff
The Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games organizing committee put on a show at Ivor Wynne Stadium even before the Tiger-Cats and B.C. Lions could take the field for their Canadian Football League clash Oct. 12.
As the fireworks blasted out from the end zone, 2015 games organizers, city officials, Hamilton Tiger-Cats representatives, and politicians unveiled the new Pan Am stadium that will host 32 soccer matches for the 2015 Pan Am Games, nearly 80 years after Civic Stadium was built for the 1930 Empire Games.
“Over the next 20 months a new stadium will rise from this historic site, a neighbourhood stadium,” said Ian Troop, chief executive officer for the Pan Am Games 2015.
It will cost about $119 million to build, design, and finance the stadium on the 5.45 hectare property, bordered by Balsam, Melrose and Cannon streets, while another $26 million will go towards equipment, transaction fees, and other costs.
The city is contributing $60.4 million to the cost, including providing the property, $4 million for the demolition, and $2.4 million for replacement expenses. The federal government is providing $69 million, while the province gave $22.3 million in a one-time payment.
The site plan for the stadium still has to be submitted to the city for approval. Planning staff have already stated they have “some concerns” about the plans fitting in with the city’s urban design, especially alongCannon Street.
“This will be more than just a football stadium for the Tiger-Cats,” said Ward 3 councillor Bernie Morelli who represents the area where the stadium is located. “We have to make sure the people get to use it to its maximum availability.”
Morelli has been fighting city staff to make sure the facility will be open 365 days of the year, and any facilities within the stadium will be used by residents.
“I have been looking into seeking greater developments for the immediate area,” said Morelli, possibility including a swimming pool, ice pad, and senior centre. Morelli envisions the area as similar in concept toTurnerParkon the Mountain, which has a police station, park, library and YMCA, allowing area residents to walk and enjoy the facilities.
The company tapped to build the stadium, Bouygues Building Canada and Kenaidan Contracting, are scheduled to take over Ivor Wynne Dec. 1. Construction is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2013, with a completion date of July 1, 2014.
To make the stadium fit into the community, architect Bob Johnston, of Cannon Design, said the new facility will be rotated 90 degrees to a north-south axis, that will capture the Niagara Escarpment in the background, enhancing the city’s image. Other accommodations made to reduce any neighbourhood problems include constructing a pedestrian plaza, matching the design of the stadium to what the houses look like by using masonry, matching the surrounding buildings in scale, and sun-angles and shadows have been minimized for local residents.
“It is reflective of the neighbourhood,” said Johnston.
The new stadium will have permanent seating for 22,500 people, with the ability to expand up to 40,000 seats for major events. There will be 30 VIP seating.
“These are sacred grounds in terms of sport,” said Mayor Bob Bratina, recalling how the Ivor Wynne location has served as a spot for international athletes to train. The mayor even said that “some day” the city needs to win the Commonwealth Games so it can return to its birthplace.
“We begin a new chapter of sport on this site that began a century ago,” he said.
Despite the announcement on the 50-yard line of Ivor Wynne Stadium, where hundreds of people turned out, including Prince of Wales school children, there remained questions about the stadium plan and the cost to taxpayers.
“There has been no real discussion of cost,” said Hamilton East-Stoney Creek NDP MPP Paul Miller, who attended the event. “I hope there won’t be any cost overruns, and it meets their deadlines. There was a lot of flash and ceremony, but we haven’t seen any costs that will be there.”
Besides Morelli, other municipal politicians attending the event included Dundas councillor Russ Powers and Ancaster councillor Lloyd Ferguson
Ferguson, the chair of the city subcommittee that oversaw the stadium process, said earlier in the day the process has created “dark clouds” that have kept him awake at night.
“It is what it is,” he said. “I’m powerless to stop it.”