City councillors in Hamilton have received a “cautionary letter” warning that the Pan Am soccer stadium’s construction might not be finished by its June 30 deadline.
"We believe the worst case scenario would represent a delay of six weeks," project manager Samuel Gandossi wrote in a letter to Bruce Gray, vice-president of Infrastructure Ontario. That letter was forwarded to city councillors Friday, Coun. Lloyd Ferguson told CBC Hamilton.
“It caught me by surprise,” Ferguson said, adding that when he toured the facility three weeks ago, he was told it would be finished on time.
"Please be assured that every effort is being made to avoid this occurrence, however we feel it is prudent to provide this notification now to allow all stakeholders to be apprised and to initiate discussions as to how, collectively, we can take measures to mitigate the potential delay,” the letter reads.
The 22,500-seat stadium will host 32 soccer games for the 2015 Pan Am Games, and is the future home of the Tiger-Cats. A six-week delay would cost construction companies $2 million. The Ticats’ new lease agreement includes a clause that says Ontario Sports Solutions consortium, the team of builders working on the project, would have to pay the Ticats $1 million for each home game missed because of a delay in constructing the stadium.
The project has seen its share of road bumps. In December, the Kitchener-Waterloo masonry company hired to do the brickwork went into receivership. The project has also been dogged by persistent rumours, including the notion that the footings are on unstable soil, which contractor Kenaidan Contracting Ltd. dismissed last month. Our particularly frigid winter has also been causing problems.
The Tiger-Cats are scheduled to play their first home game in the new stadium July 26, with the second set for the week after. A preseason game is scheduled for Ron Joyce Stadium at McMaster University.
Ticat President Glenn Gibson told CBC Hamilton the Ticats were notified about the possible delay Friday, and the team has already talked to season ticket holders. "We're working on a contingency plan," he said, though he wouldn't elaborate on what that included.
"We would've liked better news," he said. "But we're very positive about things."
Ferguson says he feels the letter was sent to “mitigate issues” and he “isn’t panicking yet."
“We need more information,” he said.
The matter will be discussed at a stadium subcommittee meeting this Tuesday at city hall.