Ticats stadium ready or not? We won't know until Sunday

City officials expect it will be Sunday afternoon before they issue a partial occupancy permit for Tim Hortons Field.
Hamilton is scheduled to host the Toronto Argonauts for the Labour Day Classic 3:09

City officials expect it’ll be Sunday afternoon before they issue a partial occupancy permit for Tim Hortons Field.

But that's still two days after the Hamilton Tiger-Cats say they have to let the Rogers Centre know if they'll play the Labour Day Classic there.

Building inspectors will be on site at the new stadium throughout the weekend to issue last-minute approvals for the health and safety issues necessary to allow fans in for the Labour Day Classic, said Ed VanderWindt, the city’s director of building services.

  • Check out the video at the top of this page to get an early look of what the new stadium is like from the inside.

For example, VanderWindt said, the stadium has four kilometres of guard and handrails, and some still have to be installed before the permit is issued.

That won’t be finished until Sunday afternoon, he said. So city officials can’t approve it until then.

Monday is a key date for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, who are scheduled to play the Toronto Argos in the new stadium on Labour Day. It has two back-up plans — play the game in the new stadium on Tuesday, or play it at the Rogers Centre on Tuesday.

The Tiger-Cats want to let the Rogers Centre know by late Friday if they'll play the football game there, Ticats CEO Scott Mitchell said.

"I think it's fair to say (Friday) we can probably communicate with the Rogers Centre folks on what needs to happen or what could happen on Tuesday."

Despite the gap in the timing of the two steps, Mitchell said he doubted the team would be in a situation where it had both Rogers centre and Tim Hortons Field lined up.

"No, I don't think so. You know, honestly I'm really focused on this situation here at Tim Hortons Field, so as I said, those folks have been unbelievably accommodating and we'll be very respectful."

To host the game, the Rogers Centre would have to convert the stadium following the Toronto Blue Jays game on Sunday, said Jay Stenhouse, vice-president of communications with the Rogers Centre. He doesn't have a definitive time when the Rogers Centre needs to know if it's hosting the game.

The $145-million stadium was originally supposed to open on June 30, but has been delayed several times since. The Tiger-Cats have played their last three home games at McMaster University.

The construction consortium Ontario Sports Solutions is building the 22,500-seat stadium under a contract with Infrastructure Ontario. Under the agreement, the Ticats get $1 million for each home game missed.

The estimated substantial completion date is Oct. 2.

If the city issues an occupancy permit on Sunday, here are the parts of the building that will be inhabitable:

  • The east stands (three levels, 11,500 seats)
  • The first three of seven levels of the west stands (6,500 seats). That leaves the levels for group sales, VIP/private boxes, media and more general seating (6,000 seats) outstanding.

City building officials are testing fire alarm and sprinkler systems on Thursday, said VanderWindt. Staff are purposely setting off fire alarms throughout the stadium to make sure the alarms work.

In addition to handrails, crews will focus on fire separations this weekend, he said.

“They have five crews on Saturday and some on Sunday to finish that work. If that work is done, that’s a major hurdle for them.”

Three building inspectors and two fire prevention officers are on site Thursday, he said. It has not taken away from the department’s other work.

Builders had to change the structural steel design of the project throughout its construction, and the city hired an independent engineering firm to inspect the safety of the design. That’s common, said Gerry Davis, general manager of public works.

“It’s a design build, which means the steel is prefabricated,” he said. “On every design build project, you have modifications.”

As for hiring the engineer, “we planned on doing it.”

VanderWindt says it’s unlikely the modifications contributed to the delay.

On Tuesday, the city's public works committee will vote to spend $60,000 to keep MHPM Project Managers on as project manager for the stadium. The original project management contract ended on July 31. The city has spent about $530,000 so far for MHPM services.


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