Investors Group Field to get $35M in repairs thanks to loan guarantee from province
It's not yet three years old, but Investors Group Field will get millions of dollars worth of repairs thanks to a $35.3 million loan guarantee from the province.
The repairs will mean all the concourses in the recently completed stadium will be torn up and replaced, said Andrew Konowalchuk. Konowalchuk is the chair of the board of Triple B Stadium Inc., which is the consortium overseeing the construction and operation of the stadium.
The Investors Group Field we built is the Investors Group Field the building owner ordered.- Evan Johnston
Konowalchuk said the building is safe for use at all times, but the work is necessary to make sure the stadium can be used for many years to come.
"It's an important public facility and [delivers] top-notch fan experience. This is a valuable community asset and we want it to last as long as possible," Konowalchuk said.
"The deficiencies that were discovered really are issues related to the longevity of the building."
Konowalchuk could not estimate how much the repairs would cost, but said Triple B would be putting out a public tender for the work in the near future.
The work will start shortly after Winnipeg hosts the Grey Cup this fall, be carried out in the off-season and take three years to complete, Konowalchuk told CBC News on Monday.
Triple B is made up of the governments of Winnipeg and Manitoba, the University of Manitoba and the Winnipeg Football Club.
Triple B ordered a small portion of one concourse in the stadium torn up last spring to investigate poor drainage and water seeping into the structure below. A waterproof membrane and insulation was replaced, the concrete underneath was re-sloped and re-poured and the top layer of concrete was replaced with paving stones.
A similar process will now begin for all the concourses in the stadium.
Dogged by delays, cost-overruns
Construction of the stadium was dogged by delays and cost-overruns and has become the subject of massive lawsuits between Triple B and construction firm Stuart Olson and architect Ray Wan.
I was really pissed at the time, and I still am.- Ron Lemieux
The legal counsel for Stuart Olson provided the following statement to CBC News on Monday via email:
"We built the stadium to the specifications of the building owner, just like we do with every project. Throughout construction, we raised potential issues with the building owner, and the building owner ultimately decided whether changes would be approved or not," Evan Johnston — vice-president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Stuart Olson — wrote in the statement.
"The Investors Group Field we built is the Investors Group Field the building owner ordered. We continue with our vigorous legal defence on this matter based on these facts."
The final price tag for the 33,500-seat facility at the University of Manitoba was $208.5 million. Triple B had already spent $4.7 million in repairs to fix cracks, drainage problems and leaks at the stadium.
Minister Lemieux 'still pissed' about repairs
Tourism and sport Minister Ron Lemieux said he's still disappointed how the stadium construction ultimately rolled out, adding the amount of the loan guarantee indicates the scale of the repairs that are needed.
We hope the NDP government comes clean on what transpired with the stadium planning and construction.- Heather Stefanson
"I was really pissed at the time, and I still am. Take a look at the kind of work, because you are talking about a loan guarantee of $35 million. Now we may be getting closer to the amount that is going to take to repair it and it's really disappointing," Lemieux told CBC News.
But the minister denied anyone in the Manitoba government pressured contractors or officials connected to the project to rush the work.
"No I don't believe anyone went out there and pressured anyone, quite frankly, to get out there and do it," he said. "I mean, we wanted to get a stadium ready; the other stadium was still being used and we wanted to get into a new stadium. I think all Manitobans told us that — get into a new stadium, we want a new stadium."
'We hope the NDP government comes clean'
Manitoba's Progressive Conservatives reacted to the loan guarantee with a statement:
"We have learned through an order in council, recommended by the minister of finance, that the government of Manitoba will guarantee a loan of up to $35.3 million to Triple B Stadium Inc. to pay for repairs to the stadium as a result of mismanagement of this issue," PC Heather Stefanson, opposition critic for the City of Winnipeg, said in a statement.
"This is exactly why we have asked the Auditor General to investigate this stadium issue further. We know that third parties have alleged the NDP government rushed the project on the eve of the 2011 provincial election.
"We hope the NDP government comes clean on what transpired with the stadium planning and construction. The government has to be accountable to taxpayers on this project."
The Grey Cup will be played at IGF on Nov. 29.