4 years later, Hamilton's Tim Hortons Field stadium still isn't finished

It's been nearly four years, the city says, and Hamilton's Tim Hortons Field stadium still isn't finished. And the lawsuits rage on.

The building leaks continue, and the lawsuits rage on

Tim Hortons Field stadium still isn't done, the city says. Neither are the post-construction lawsuits. (Aaron Lynett/The Canadian Press)

It's been nearly four years, the city says, and Hamilton's Tim Hortons Field stadium still isn't finished.

There are still leaks to be fixed, and a railing to be replaced, said Rom D'Angelo, the city's director of energy, fleet and facilities. There are also problems with the sound system. All of these issues are linked to the stadium's original build.

"We're still working through a number of deficiencies," D'Angelo said.

The existing railing adheres to the local building code, he said, but the city wants it higher for "health and safety" reasons. As for the leaks, the city divided the stadium into four phases for those, D'Angelo said. It's fixing the third section now.

"These are all what we consider deficiencies, or latent defects."

The full extent of the city's work on the stadium, and the cost, remains to be seen. The building, which has a history of issues that include obstructed seats and falling speakers, is at the focal point of numerous lawsuits between the city, the province and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

The city is about to change how bookings are done at the stadium. Coun. Matthew Green says it's the equivalent of privatizing it. (Kelly Bennett/CBC)

But the recent work is just the latest chapter in a debacle that has dated back to 2012. Hamilton agreed to contribute $40 million to the $145-million stadium, which would host soccer for the 2015 Pan Am Games. Infrastructure Ontario hired construction consortium Ontario Sports Solutions, comprised of Bouygues Building Canada Inc. and Kenaidan Contracting Ltd.

History of deficiencies

The target opening date was June 2014. The actual opening came months later, causing the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to play several games at another venue. The province handed the building over to the city when it reached "substantial completion."

The city says it's been fixing deficiencies ever since. That came to a head in 2016 when a speaker the size of a bar fridge dropped from a faulty bracket and damaged 30 empty seats.

Meanwhile, another debate is brewing over how the stadium is booked — or as one councillor calls it, a fight to keep the building public.

City staff want to hire Spectra by Comcast Spectacor, current manager of FirstOntario Centre and FirstOntario Concert Hall, to book the stadium too.

Under the plan, the city would pay Spectra about $5,000 a month for the next 10 months to book events and community rooms. A city staffer is temporarily doing stadium bookings now.

'It makes absolutely no sense'

The city would consider stadium bookings to be part of Spectra's existing contract for the other two facilities, D'Angelo said, so no other companies would bid. That contract can then be extended in December for another five years. 

Matthew Green, Ward 3 councillor, says this is the equivalent of privatizing the stadium.

"The booking is the key," he said. "It's the keys to the house. They're going to determine who gets what rooms and how, and that's problematic for me."

"I cannot for the life of me understand a business plan that would result in us paying Spectra $5,000 for the exclusive rights to book our $150 million stadium. It makes absolutely no sense."

The Ticats, under their 20-year licensing agreement with the city, have exclusive rights to book four non-football events a year. This year, that includes an Arkells concert in June.

About the Author

Samantha Craggs

Reporter

Samantha Craggs is a CBC News reporter based in Hamilton, Ont. She has a particular interest in politics and social justice stories, and tweets live from Hamilton city hall. Follow her on Twitter at @SamCraggsCBC, or email her at samantha.craggs@cbc.ca