Builders have promised that the new Tim Hortons Field stadium will be finished by Labour Day, but a city councillor and veteran of the construction industry says he has his doubts.

Coun. Lloyd Ferguson of Ancaster heads the city’s Pan Am subcommittee. He took a tour of the stadium last week after the opening date was delayed until early December — the latest delay in a $145-million project.

Based on what he saw, Ferguson estimates there’s only a “75-per cent chance” the stadium will be done for the Labour Day Classic, when the Hamilton Tiger-Cats play the Toronto Argonauts.

“There’s so much work there,” said Ferguson, who spent more than 30 years in the construction industry. “There may be less than a 75-per cent chance.

“I was surprised by how much work there is left to be done.”

The consortium Ontario Sports Solutions (OSS) is building the 22,500-seat stadium, which falls under Infrastructure Ontario (IO). The stadium replaces the former Ivor Wynne stadium. In addition to being the home base for the Tiger-Cats, it will host the soccer games for the 2015 Pan Am Games.

Organizers first reported a two-week delay in January, citing issues with subcontractors and a late December ice storm. That estimate lengthened to six weeks over the spring. By the June 30 deadline, OSS hoped the stadium would be finished by the first Tiger-Cats home game on July 26. OSS now estimates it will be open by Labour Day.

In the meantime, the Tiger-Cats are playing at McMaster University, which caused the team to miss out on a major ESPN broadcast. An agreement dictates that IO pays the Tiger-Cats $1 million per missed home game. As of Aug. 16, they will miss three.

If the stadium opens by Labour Day, Ferguson said, there’s lots that won’t be done. For example, he said, there won’t be concession stands. The priority now is health, fire and safety.

“It’s going to be a real stretch to be ready,” he said. “I’m not saying it won’t. I’m saying it’ll be a stretch.”

Maintenance and electrical workers are doing double shifts to ready the stadium, said Terence Foran, IO spokesperson.

IO is withholding $89 million of the project until OSS completes it, he said. That’s the only penalty currently in place for the late finish.

“Based on conversations with OSS, they’ve assured us they’ll meet the Labour Day Classic game,” he said.

Outstanding work includes:

  • Guard rails and hand railings.
  • Electrical systems such as broadcast cabling and mechanical systems such as bathroom fixtures.
  • Elevator installation.
  • Concessions (food services) equipment installation.

If the stadium isn’t ready for by Labour Day, Ferguson said, he’ll be upset.

“That’s putting it mildly,” he said. “I’m upset anyway. They made it clear in their contract that it would be ready by June 30, and they’re not.”