Illustrated by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday August 23, 2014
Two-Thirds of the New Stadium for Labour Day Classic
At so many steps along the way in the endless saga of Tim Hortons Field, it’s been easy to come to the conclusion that things couldn’t possibly get any more ridiculous.
Apparently they could.
While it’s certainly encouraging to hear that progress is being made and the place may be partially ready for the Labour Day game — a final decision will be made early next week — the fact that the word partially is included in that sentence is just another head-shaking moment in a long string of them.
Honestly, who opens a brand-new stadium halfway? These moments come along once every generation or longer in most cities.
You’d have to be 92 years old to have been alive the last time a new stadium opened here. So it’s a big deal. Yes, even historic.
Can you imagine any other major city unveiling its largest construction project and one of its centrepieces when it’s not yet done? Neither can we. Yet in Hamilton, it appears we’re going to ease our way into it as if we’re moving into our new house but can’t use the unfinished master bedroom, dining room and kitchen.
If the word embarrassing hadn’t been so overused, we’d throw it out here again.
On the flip side, what other choice is there? Blame the Ticats all you want for refusing the West Harbour, but that’s old news now. At this point, the team has been backed into a corner and has no choice but to do what it can with this situation.
If the city says the stadium can be used, the Cats probably can’t refuse to play there and still expect the contractor to pay them $1 million a game in penalties. Not without a fight. Besides, where would they play instead?
Back at Mac? They’re going to turn down 18,000 seats to go with 6,000? Even if they wanted to do that, the Marauders have the field locked up for their opener, which starts at the exact same time. Right as thousands of students are trying to move into their residences, which would create traffic havoc on campus.
Could the Cats go back to Guelph? Possibly, though there are only 4,500 seats, so most fans would have to stand or sit on the hill around the field. That said, the university’s athletic director has expressed his willingness to make something happen if needed. (Source: Scott Radley, Hamilton Spectator)
Crucial stadium inspection will take five days
The city building department expects to spend five days inspecting the city’s new football stadium before pronouncing it ready — or not — for a fast-approaching Sept. 1 game.
That timeline adds to the deadline pressure facing the beleaguered builder of the $145-million stadium as well as the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats. The team doesn’t have a local backup venue for the much-anticipated Labour Day classic.
Chief building official Ed VanderWindt said Monday he has two inspectors “on call” to begin a marathon study of the 22,500-seat stadium as soon as the contractor applies for an occupancy permit.
“There is a lot of ground to cover … It’s not just one big walkabout and you’re done,” said VanderWindt, who has scheduled five days for the inspection.
While inspectors could eyeball the stadium in two or three days, the city’s building boss said the extra time accounts for document review and any required repairs.
The two inspectors will roam the city-block-sized venue dozens of times, said VanderWindt, because each critical element — sprinklers, fire exits or hand rails, for example — requires a dedicated walk-about.
VanderWindt said it’s not practical to assign more eyes to the stadium because not all parts of the building will be ready to inspect at the same time.
But he noted a team of in-house engineers will simultaneously be reviewing documents certifying everything from electrical work to structural integrity to fire safety.
The chosen inspectors — whom VanderWindt declined to identify — have a history with the building, including one dedicated to the stadium full-time.
“What I can say is our staff feel very privileged to be part of this project. I think everyone recognizes the pressure there is to make sure everything is done on time, but for our part I can say we’re keeping on top of it and looking forward to getting it done.”
The contractor, Ontario Sports Solutions, maintains the building will be ready for Sept. 1, but the building department hadn’t received an occupancy permit application by the end of the business day Monday.
But VanderWindt said building inspectors will work weekends if necessary, meaning a permit could still be granted by next Monday. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)
OTHER NEWS SITES
This cartoon is posted on Yahoo Canada News.
Tim Hortons Field won’t be ready for first two Ticat home games
Two weeks ago, the vice-president of Infrastructure Ontario was asked if there was time to get Tim Hortons Field done in time for the Tiger-Cats’ July 26 home opener, assuming good weather and no bankruptcies by subcontractors.
Apparently there wasn’t.
As if to put an exclamation point on a project that has divided, excited, angered, intrigued, frustrated and baffled Hamiltonians for the past half-decade, it was announced Monday that the building wouldn’t be ready for the Ticats’ games on July 26 and 31 after all. Instead, those two contests will be played at McMaster’s Ron Joyce Stadium.
“All partners, including IO, confirmed today that the stadium would not be ready in time,” said Infrastructure Ontario communications adviser Mandy Downes.
While news of the announcement came suddenly — following the second long meeting in a week involving all the principals — it can’t have been much of a surprise to anyone who’s driven by the site lately.
There’s definitely been some progress made over the past few days. Most of the steel frame for the huge scoreboard has gone up since late last week. The turf isn’t ready for action, but it’s been laid. Other work has been done under the stands in the bowels of the building where it can’t be seen.
However, these incremental improvements were clearly moving at a slower pace than the hands on the stopwatch are spinning toward D-Day. With just seven days to go until the building department was going to be asked to begin its inspection toward granting an occupancy permit, there’s still more than a little to do.
According to Infrastructure Ontario, tasks remaining to be completed include: “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.”
Sound like a lot? Walk around the site and it sure looks like a lot.
“They just haven’t been able to progress as they thought they would,” says Hamilton general manager of public works Gerry Davis.
So there’s another delay and another twist written into one of the most convoluted narratives this city has ever produced.
Even in its current state, this stadium looks like it has the potential to be really nice when it’s finally finished. Until now though, it’s been an ongoing migraine that flares up at regular intervals, with Monday being a Tylenol 3 day. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)