Ticats investing extra $5M into Tim Horton's stadium

The Ticats announced a $5 million investment into the new Tim Horton’s stadium Tuesday amidst strong ticket sales for next season. The team expects an update on potential stadium delays next week.

Team expects update on potential stadium delays next week

Ticat officials are still hopeful the new Tim Hortons field will be ready for next season's first game on July 26. (Cannon Group) (Courtesy of the Cannon Group)

The Ticats announced a $5 million investment into the new Tim Horton’s stadium Tuesday amidst strong ticket sales for next season.

The money will go towards team facilities like locker rooms and training areas, said caretaker Bob Young at a Tuesday afternoon press conference. “This is $5 million on top of all the money we’ve invested in the Ticats over the last ten years,” Young said.

We’re very encouraged by our sales to date.- Glenn Gibson, Ticats chief operating officer

The team also announced that several sections of the new stadium including new premium seating areas and corporate suites are already sold out.

“We’re very encouraged by our sales to date — fans are clearly excited to be a part of the inaugural season at Tim Hortons field,” said Glenn Gibson, chief operating officer. “We have sold out of 11 of 15 price points and expect to sell close to 5,000 new season seats by the end of June.”

The first home game at the new stadium is scheduled for July 26. Gibson told reporters the team expects to hear more about any potential construction delays at next Tuesday’s Pan Am subcommittee meeting at city hall. City councillors received a “cautionary letter” warning that the Pan Am soccer stadium’s construction might not be finished by its June 30 deadline last month.

“But the messaging we’re getting is we’ll be ready on the 26th of July,” Gibson said.

Delay possible: stadium project manager

"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.  "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 22,500-seat stadium will host 32 soccer games for the 2015 Pan Am Games in addition to being the future home of the Tiger-Cats.

A six-week delay would cost construction companies $2 million, as 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 slowed by a frigid winter and dogged persistent rumours, including the notion that the footings are on unstable soil, which contractor Kenaidan Contracting Ltd. dismissed.

Alternative site planning in the works

Gibson says the team has “things in the works” for an alternative site if the stadium isn’t ready, but wants a more “definitive prognosis from contractors before really exploring those avenues.”

“It’s a concern, and in the background we’re working hard on contingency planning,” he said. There are about 320 workers now putting in overtime on the site, as expanded daylight hours are enabling second shifts, he said.

This map shows new parking options announced by the Ticats Tuesday. The sections in yellow represent existing team parking, while the sections in red represent new parking brought in by partners. Some of the new parking lots are a 12 to 15 minute walk away from the stadium, according to Google maps. (Hamilton Tiger Cats)

The Ticats also announced Tuesday that 4,000 parking spaces have been made available in the stadium precinct for home games. That’s over five times the amount of spots the team controlled in 2012 — but some of those parking spots are a 12-minute walk away from the field.

Gibson says he doesn’t think the walk will inconvenience fans too much. “I liken it to going down to Toronto to go to a Leafs game and you end up walking like two miles to get to the game,” he said. I think what we need to do is focus on what that 12 minute experience looks like, and is there a way to brighten it up.” Revenue from parking lots made available to the team by the school board and ArcelorMittal Dofasco will be donated to local foundations and charities, Gibson says.

He didn’t have an estimate as to how much parking will cost, but told reporters it “would be reasonable.”

The team also announced a “legacy wall” slated for the new stadium that will bear the names of fans who purchase season seats by June 30, 2014. It will be unveiled prior to the first home game of the season.

Sports and entertainment company Levy restaurants was announced as the stadium’s food and beverage vendor for the new field Tuesday. Gibson expects the company to hire 450-500 people to work at Tim Horton’s field.