The early morning fire at Hamilton’s Tim Hortons Field won’t affect whether the stadium will be ready for Monday’s Labour Day Classic between the hometown Tiger-Cats and the Toronto Argonauts, investigators have concluded.
A fire broke out in a mechanical room on the third floor of the venue's west stands early Saturday, said Dave Christopher, a spokesman for the Hamilton Fire Department. Overnight security staff called firefighters to the stadium, located at 75 Balsam Ave. N, around 3:40 a.m., he said.
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Crews extinguished the flames "within a few minutes," Christopher said. While no one was injured, the fire caused an estimated $25,000 in damage.
However, on Saturday afternoon, as workers scurried to prepare the stadium for Monday's game, authorities announced that the fire won't have hampered construction efforts.
“There was no structural damage that will affect Monday's game,” Hamilton police Staff Sgt. Greg Doerr told CBC News.
The Ontario Fire Marshal is still investigating the cause the fire, but said the incident is "non-suspicious."
Ticats still planning to host Monday's game
Saturday's fire has raised further questions about whether the Tim Hortons Field will be ready for Monday’s game. Safety inspectors still have to issue an occupancy permit for the stadium. That won’t happen until at least Sunday afternoon, city officials say.
'At this point in time, we don’t believe there will be impact in any way on game preparations at the stadium, including any of the inspections,” —Mike Kirkopoulos, City of Hamilton
But both Tiger-Cats management and the city say the fire won’t affect the rush prepare the venue for CFL action.
“At this point in time, we don’t believe there will be impact in any way on game preparations at the stadium, including any of the inspections,” Mike Kirkopoulos, a spokesman for the city, said earlier on Saturday.
Glenn Gibson, the Tiger-Cats’ president of business operations, called the fire “a small event” and said it won’t affect the team's plan to host the Labour Day Classic on Monday.
“Nothing’s changed from what was being said yesterday," said Gibson, who noted that dozens of workers were at the site Saturday morning working on the stadium.
Backup plans are in place if $145-million stadium isn't ready for the 1 p.m. kickoff. The Ticats have said the game could be postponed until 7 p.m. or held instead at Toronto's Rogers Centre, the home field for the Argonauts as well as the Toronto Blue Jays.
Even if the city grants an occupancy permit, Tim Hortons Field, which will eventually have permanent seating for 24,000 spectators, won’t be running at full capacity. Sections of the stands that will house around 6,000 seats will still be off-limits, the team says, and a number of VIP and entertainment areas won’t be ready either.
Plagued with delays
Tim Hortons Field was originally slated for a June 30 opening. But the surprisingly cold winter and problems with building subcontractors have resulted in delays.
Ontario Sports Solutions told city officials earlier this month that they modified the stadium’s design during construction, but said it’s hard to tell whether the changes led to any delays.
Postponing the opening of the stadium has forced the Tiger-Cats to play three home games this season at McMaster University's Ron Joyce Stadium.
That facility has permanent seating for 6,000 people and can accommodate an additional 6,000 temporary seats.