Manitoba minister of sport Ron Lemieux is upset that problems with Investors Group Stadium have culminated in a lawsuit.
"I'm extremely disappointed that that we're discovering all kinds of inefficiences or defective work being done,"
Triple B Stadium Inc., the consortium that owns IGF and funded the construction of the 33,500-seat facility at the University of Manitoba, has filed a lawsuit against construction company Stuart Olson and architect Ray Wan.
The lawsuit argues the home of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers is riddled with problems that will take millions of dollars to fix.
The statement of claim says there are several problems, among them are the issues of leaks and poor insulation.
Lemieux said he was informed of the lawsuit Tuesday, but he knew there were problems with the facility.
"As Manitobans, we work hard for our money and we expect to get what we paid for. That's what's so disappointing about this. And we've had this conversation before, you know there's water leaking and some insulation problems and then you start to get really pissed about this," he said Wednesday in response to news of the lawsuit.
Total government funding for the stadium was $208.5 million, including $171.5 million in loans and financing along with millions in grants and other contributions, according to the province.
Lemieux said he's not even sure all the problems have been discovered yet.
"The investment into this, I'll call it iconic, it's an iconic infrastructure on behalf of all Manitobans, this is a beautiful stadium," Lemieux said. "Why the lawsuit now and the work that needs to be done and the due diligence, I'm not clear whether or not all the problems have been identified yet. I believe they are still looking to find out if there's more."
The minister said part of the reason the province chose not to put money into the old Canad Inns Stadium near Polo Park was because putting the required $50 million into it would have been "pouring that money down the toilet."
He said a new facility would last much longer. But now that's not a certainty, he said.
"We want it to last 50, 60 years. I mean that's what this is all about. It's safe. People don't have to worry about their safety going into the stadium. I've been advised that FIFA's going to take place, people are going to enjoy that particular event. They're going to enjoy the Grey Cup, any concerts that are going to happen. All of that is not going to be impacted," he said. "But the longevity of that place, that stadium, that investment on behalf of Manitoba needs to be assured that that's going to be there."
"Do I think that this is still a great stadium? Yeh, I do. But we want it here for 50 or 60 or 70 years. And the problems that have been identified and what Triple B is looking at is that the construction, we may not get that 50 years out of it and it'll just start to crumble a lot earlier and so these problems need to be taken care of."
Triple B wants contractor, architect held accountable
"There are extensive issues with the way the building was designed and built, specifically related to water drainage and heating that need to be addressed," said Triple B chair Andrew Konowalchuk.
The changes need to be made so the building will be safe 50 years from now and not erode from water leakage or poor heating, states a news release from Triple B.
Already, $4.7 million has been spent in repairs to fix cracks, drainage problems and leaks at the stadium, which has been open for less than two years.
Triple B hired a Winnipeg architectural firm last summer to examine the problems. A report, completed last week, concludes that "during the design and construction of the stadium there was insufficient attention to the management of water drainage and heating, poor execution of critical details and poor construction quality control."
Konowalchuk said the facility is structurally safe and can be used for events but major repairs will have to be done, including improving waterproof membranes under the stadium concourses on both levels, fixing extensive drainage issues and adding insulation to a number of sections of the stadium.
"Repairs underway this winter include insulating the concessions stands that have fixtures and water pipes that cannot be allowed to freeze but were built without sufficient insulation," states the Triple B news release.
"The private suites have consistently leaked in a heavy rain and during spring thaw runoff. The suites were constructed with single pane windows and have minimal insulation making it difficult to keep the room temperature warm enough to protect the piping. In the stands, a lack of drains and concrete that slopes in the wrong direction allows rain to pond underfoot and pool in the concourse."
Triple B said it wants to hold the stadium's architect and contractor legally and financially accountable "on behalf of Manitoba taxpayers, sport fans and concertgoers.
"Triple B believes that the community deserves to have the facility that it paid for and believes that the defendants are responsible to cover those repairs."
The facility officially opened in spring of 2013 but before the first Bomber game was played cracks began to emerge in the concrete, with some as big as a centimetre wide.
As well, some seats had hand rails obstructing fans' views of the field.
That was all after construction was delayed for a year due and two walls being built were blown over by wind gusts.
Statement from Winnipeg Football Club
Wade Miller, president and CEO of the Winnipeg Football Club said the organization fully supports Triple B and its legal action against Raymond S.C. Wan Architect Inc. and Stuart Olson Construction Ltd.
"While we are extremely disappointed that we have had to deal with continuous and ongoing issues since we became the primary tenant in 2013," said Miller, "we believe today is an important step forward in attempting to have them resolved."
Miller added that, according to the statement of claim, the legal action is based on ongoing water infiltration and other issues related to the building design and construction of the stadium.
"The club will work closely with Triple B to ensure that any potential remediation work will not impact in any way on scheduled events, games, or concerts at Investors Group Field," said Miller.
The Winnipeg Football Club will make no further comment on the ongoing legal process while it is before the courts.
Statement of claim