By Kevin Werner, News Staff
The Pan Am Stadium should be “substantially completed” by July 26, the home opener for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats this season, say officials building the $145.7 million facility.
But the consortium constructing the stadium, Ontario Sport Solutions, acknowledges the project remains about three weeks behind schedule because of the severe winter weather, and current spring rain that has delayed needed work on the project.
“We have gone through extraordinary weather,” said Garreth Barkey, site supervisor, during a media briefing April 29 at the stadium site. “We are not were we want to be in zero delays.”
Stadium officials had earlier announced a stadium tour for city officials and media, but it was cancelled due to the wet and rainy weather. Barkey said some work can continue inside the stadium while it rains. But if it persists over a number of days, problems could arise, he said. The consortium also had to replace earlier this year a well-known contractor, Waterloo-area Kappeler Masonry after the company went into receivership.
A few months ago officials had stated the project would be substantially completed by June 30. Substantially completed, as defined in the contract with InfrastructureOntario, said Barkey, means occupying the facility without safety or health concerns. But Barkey acknowledged that date is now gone. Officials are now targeting July 26, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats first home game, against the expansion Ottawa Red/Blacks, as the stadium’s completion date.
“That is our single and only goal, to make this building game ready on the 26th,” said Barkey.
And even then work is expected to continue up to two months to complete the project, he said.
The majority of the work at the stadium involves mechanical and electrical. There are about 350 people on site, with about one-third involved in mechanical or electrical projects, said Barkey. He said trades people are working up to 12 hour days, including Saturdays.
Tiger-Cats officials remain upbeat they will be playing their home opener in late July. Glen Gibson, president of the Tiger-Cats, said even though they have a contingency plan in case the stadium isn’t ready, they don’t expect to use it.
“We always said we weren’t going to get involved (in talking about the contingency plan) because we didn’t expect we would ever use it,” said Gibson. “We maintain we will be playing on the 26th of July in that stadium. We will do everything we can to make sure that happens.”
Hamilton’s General Manager of Public Works Gerry Davis remains “optimistic” the stadium will be completed on time. City officials, including building and permit personnel are overseeing the work, he said.
“Progress is happening,” he said.
The entire project is being quarterbacked by InfrastructureOntarioand any missed deadlines will be up to the provincial organization to solve.
John McKendrick, executive vice president for major projects, echoed Barkey’s goal of finishing the project by July 26. If the developer doesn’t meet its obligations, the contract stipulates the developer must pay the Tiger-Cats $1 million for every home game missed.
Ancaster councillor Lloyd Ferguson, chair of the Pan Am Stadium Precinct sub-committee, remains concerned about the delays.
“It’s going to be a tough push (to meet the July 26th deadline),” saidFerguson. “This is not going to be easy.”
For instance, even though holes were being drilled into the pre-cast concrete for the stadium seating, and before the seating can be installed a coating on the pre-cast concrete needs to be done first. Ferguson says it needs to be dry for the coating to be done. The weather forecast for the next few days includes rain.
Meanwhile, Gibson announced the football club will be giving two tickets to each person who worked on the stadium in a show of appreciation. The offer, which expires May 7, will allow a person to attend the July 31 game against the Blue Bombers, Aug. 16 against Calgary, or Sept. 20 contest against Edmonton.