Pan Am Stadium will likely be ready for Ticats, but not finished
Tim Hortons Field should be ready for the Ticats home opener this season — but fans shouldn't expect much in the way of frills.
"Ready" in the definition of the stadium's builders just means the facility will be "safe for the public," Coun. Lloyd Ferguson told CBC Hamilton Wednesday.
It's too bad the stadium won't be all finished, as you only get one chance for a first impression.- Coun. Lloyd Ferguson
He was commenting after Gareth Barkey, site supervisor for Ontario Sports Solutions, told the Pan Am Stadium precinct committee Tuesday that the $145 million facility should be ready for a July 26 completion date- the date of the team's first home game of the season.
"That's their definition," he said, adding that likely the kitchen, concession areas, and skyboxes won't be finished. The stadium's field would be ready, along with essentials like emergency lights and handrails.
"It's a relief, but I look at that site and there's a lot of work to be done yet," Ferguson said. "I'm not sure if all levels will be open [for the home opener] yet. It's unclear."
Not having concessions and kitchens ready would leave the team scrambling to come up with temporary fixes for fans for food, drinks and beer.
"It's too bad the stadium won't be all finished, as you only get one chance for a first impression," Ferguson said. "But that's the risk you take when they chose that location. If it had been the waterfront, they could've played at Ivor Wynne until it was done."
The 22,500-seat facility will host 32 soccer games for the 2015 Pan Am Games, and is the future home of the Tiger-Cats. The Ticats’ new lease agreement includes a clause that says Ontario Sports Solutions would have to pay the Ticats $1 million for each home game missed because of a delay in constructing the stadium.
Representatives from the Ticats have said the team has prepared a "contingency plan" in case the site isn't done on time, but they haven't revealed what that plan would look like.
In late April, the Ontario Sports Solutions consortium announced they expect the stadium to be in a state of “substantial completion” in time for the home opener against the Ottawa Redblacks. The team is also scheduled to play an exhibition game against Montreal on June 14 at Ron Joyce Stadium.
Pressure continues to mount for Ontario Sports Solutions to finish the new stadium on time — but contractors have run up against several problems and delays. Last December, the Kitchener-Waterloo masonry company hired to do the brickwork for the site went into receivership. The particularly frigid winter has also caused problems.