City steps in to fix leaky Tim Hor­tons sta­dium

New­est water prob­lem to cost mu­nic­i­pal­ity $500K

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - MATTHEW VAN DONGEN

The city will spend up to $500,000 fix­ing per­sis­tent sta­dium leaks and sound sys­tem is­sues as le­gal wran­gling con­tin­ues over who is to blame for a laun­dry list of post­con­struc­tion prob­lems.

The lat­est re­pairs — this time to leak­ing ex­pan­sion joints and mal­func­tion­ing floor drains that dam­aged fifth-level sta­dium suites — could push to­tal city spend­ing on re­pairs and safety is­sues since last year to al­most $2.5 mil­lion.

The city still has to “tweak” a glitch-prone sta­dium sound sys­tem, said fa­cil­i­ties head Rom D’Angelo, but that project bud­get is not yet public.

Since the $145-mil­lion sta­dium was handed over late and un­fin­ished ahead of the 2015 Pan Am Games, the city has stepped in to fix ev­ery­thing from leaks to miss­ing draft beer lines to un­safe rail­ings to rain-dam­aged tele­vi­sion screens.

It also in­stalled for­got­ten water sta­tions (a city over­sight), paid to power the sta­dium with emer­gency gen­er­a­tors af­ter a trans­former blew and com­mis­sioned a safety au­dit af­ter a tower speaker plunged into the empty stands last sum­mer.

The city main­tains it will be re­im­bursed by the sta­dium builder and In­fra­struc­ture On­tario — ei­ther via ne­go­ti­a­tion or through a law­suit — for any money spent fix­ing “de­fi­cien­cies and la­tent de­fects.” (The for­got­ten water foun­tains will stay on the city’s tab.)

Coun. Lloyd Fer­gu­son, who chaired the city’s Pan Am sta­dium com­mit­tee, said he’s “com­fort­able” with the on­go­ing spend­ing be­cause the city with­held mil­lions of dol­lars in pay­ments to builder On­tario Sport So­lu­tions as a re­sult of the ini­tial prob­lems.

“We’ve held a lot of money back to en­sure that sta­dium is com­pleted and in an ap­pro­pri­ate state of re­pair,” he said. “That’s worth do­ing and I’m com­fort­able we won’t be left on the hook for the cost.”

The city con­firmed it had $6 mil­lion in with­held pay­ments avail­able in late 2015, but it’s not clear how much of that cash re­mains. City lawyer Bryan Bood­hoo said Tues­day he can’t re­veal any in­for­ma­tion about the hold­back cash be­cause of on­go­ing lit­i­ga­tion.

The in­fa­mous de­lays and de­fi­cien­cies at the sta­dium spurred tens of mil­lions of dol­lars in du­elling court claims filed in the spring of 2016, be­tween the city, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, sta­dium builder and pro­vin­cial project over­seer In­fra­struc­ture On­tario.

The par­ties con­tin­ued try­ing to ne­go­ti­ate an out-of-court settlement and city coun­cil­lors were pre­sented a range of op­tions be­hind closed doors late last year. But Fer­gu­son said Tues­day he un­der­stand the ne­go­ti­a­tions “aren’t go­ing any­where” and sug­gested it’s pos­si­ble the dis­pute will have to be set­tled in court.

That view is at odds with the re­cent por­trayal of ne­go­ti­a­tions by Ke­naidan Con­tract­ing, a part­ner in the build­ing con­sor­tium, which re­cently sug­gested a settlement was ready to be signed.

In a brief state­ment, In­fra­struc­ture On­tario said Tues­day all par­ties are “work­ing hard” to reach a settlement. Tiger-Cats rep­re­sen­ta­tives didn’t re­spond to queries about the lat­est re­pairs or the state of ne­go­ti­a­tions Tues­day.

But the sta­dium lease agree­ment re­quires the city to pur­sue Ti­cat claims of fi­nan­cial losses re­lated to the de­layed con­struc­tion with the builder and In­fra­struc­ture On­tario. No pro­posed settlement can go ahead with­out agree­ment from the team.

Team CEO Scott Mitchell told The Spectator in March there “hasn’t been any pro­gres­sion” in ef­forts to set­tle the law­suit.

The le­gal stale­mate is af­fect­ing the city in other ways, even if lo­cal tax­pay­ers re­main off the hook for the on­go­ing pa­rade of re­pairs.

The lit­i­ga­tion is ef­fec­tively pre­vent­ing the city and Ti­cats from team­ing up on a Grey Cup bid un­til at least 2019. Sim­i­larly, coun­cil cited the law­suit as a rea­son to pass on the chance to part­ner with team owner Bob Young and a lo­cal con­sor­tium in­ter­ested in in­stalling an all-sea­son dome over the sta­dium.

On the up­side, Hamilton is in good com­pany when it comes to sta­dium-re­lated tri­als and tribu­la­tions.

Win­nipeg’s new $210-mil­lion sta­dium also opened months later than ex­pected in 2013 and re­quired ex­ten­sive post-con­struc­tion re­pairs, prompt­ing a slew of du­elling law­suits. In Ot­tawa, a $140-mil­lion­plus ren­o­va­tion of TD Place sta­dium was paired with mas­sive res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial re­de­vel­op­ment. The sta­dium was com­pleted in 2014 but re­sulted in a web of le­gal squab­bles be­tween the new own­er­ship group, prime con­trac­tor and sub­con­trac­tors over billing and cost dis­putes.

We’ve held a lot of money back to en­sure that sta­dium is com­pleted ... COUN. LLOYD FER­GU­SON STA­DIUM COM­MIT­TEE CHAIR

HAMILTON SPECTATOR FILE PHOTO

Tim Hor­tons Field has been the sub­ject of lit­i­ga­tion over de­fi­cien­cies and de­lays.

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