What's still not done at Hamilton's Tim Hortons Field

It’s “questionable” that the delayed construction project at Tim Hortons field will be ready for any games before the Labour Day classic, according to the head of the city’s Pan Am subcommittee.

Ticats' new Tim Hortons Field delayed for at least first two home games

Mechanical and electrical work, field drainage and every public elevator is among the work crews still need to do before the new Tim Horton's Field stadium is ready for football.

Infrastructure Ontario (IO) has released a list of eight items that are examples of the work that needs to be done. Included in that list is sprinkler systems and handrails, installing some seats and "all mechanical and electrical work," the agency said in an email Tuesday.

When it comes to Labour Day and playing Toronto — you want to be in that stadium.- Coun. Lloyd Ferguson

The new $140-million stadium was due to be finished by July 26, which is the first home game of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. But on Monday, officials said it wouldn't be done by the July 26 or 31 home games, and might not be done before the Labour Day classic.

“I think we can make the Labour Day game — but another game in August is probably questionable,” said Coun. Lloyd Ferguson, chair of the city's Pan Am subcommittee.

There's a lot of work remaining, said Gerry Davis, the city's general manager of public works. The heating and cooling systems aren't finished. Much millwork remains, as does some of the stadium's lighting.

Six hours of debate

The city met with IO, Ontario Sports Solutions (OSS) and Pan Am 2015 organizers - the stadium will host Pan Am soccer games - on Monday, Davis said. The decision not to open on July 26 was mutual and came after nearly six hours of discussion and debate.

"We went over the things that needed to be done," Davis said.

"It was collective. Somebody didn’t just go in and say 'we’re not doing it.' We were in for the better part of the day going over what needed to be done."

In the interim, the Tiger-Cats will play at Ron Joyce Stadium at McMaster University, which will be a hit to the organization. The new stadium has 22,500 seats, while McMaster only has 6,000. ESPN is scheduled to broadcast the July 31 game.

Hosting the Labour Day game against the Toronto Argonauts — essentially the spiritual heart of the team’s season — is a necessity, Ferguson said.

“When it comes to Labour Day and playing Toronto — you want to be in that stadium."

Ferguson also reiterated that the city had “no control over this situation” and that taxpayers won’t end up on the hook for cost delays — an estimated $1 million per missed game. Though there’s some uncertainty surrounding that figure as well, as it’s “just a number someone threw out there,” Ferguson said. “We don’t really know what the costs are.”

Ontario taxpayers are “not responsible for additional costs related to the completion of the project,” Infrastructure Ontario (IO) said in a Monday afternoon media release. Instead, construction consortium OSS pays. 

What isn’t clear is just how that money will be collected. Ferguson says the city will “cascade the claim to IO,” and not chase after OSS for any funds. “We simply pass it through,” he said.

While on the Prime Time Sports radio show Monday evening, Ticats president Scott Mitchell said the issue will likely end up in the hands of the organization’s lawyers. “Clearly, we’re looking at some significant litigation here as time goes on,” Mitchell said.

Had the team played games this month, Mitchell said, large sections of the stadium would have been incomplete, such as not having food and beverage stations and washrooms set up. “There were some safety concerns. Between now and then they have to get a lot more railings in that would have to be there in order for it to make code for occupancy permits,” he said.

“It became clear to us that a temporary solution was not only going to be a very poor experience for our fans in terms of a first impression, but that it was only going to further set back the final completion of the stadium.”

Fans to be issued refund

Construction on the new stadium, which replaces the former Ivor Wynne stadium and will host soccer games for the 2015 Pan Am Games, was at least two weeks behind for most of the winter.

By March, Infrastructure Ontario warned in a letter to the city that the stadium was six weeks behind schedule. By late June, the agency said the stadium wouldn't be "substantially completed" until October.

IO attributed the delay to harsh winter weather and the bankruptcy of a subcontractor. It initially aimed to apply to the city for an occupancy permit on July 16.

Fans who have purchased tickets to the first two home games will be issued a credit or refund for the full value of each game.  

There are more than 500 workers on site on a daily basis, IO said. The turf should be rolled out by Sunday.

Some of the work that is still outstanding:

  • Field of play installation
  • Exterior building facade work
  • Sprinkler systems installation
  • All mechanical and electrical work
  • Installation of seats
  • VIP and box suites
  • Installation of broadcast facilities
  • Installation of railings and elevators throughout public areas

Source: Infrastructure Ontario


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.