Ticats withholding $1.4 million from city over stadium shortcomings


The Hamilton Tiger-Cats won’t hand over $1.4-million worth of payments to the city until several problems with the new stadium are fixed — a stance the city says is unfair.

The Ticats say while the stadium was declared “substantially complete” in May, Tim Hortons Field still has some significant deficiencies — including seats with blocked views and problems with the draft beer lines — that will hurt their business.

As a result, the team says the city isn’t holding up its end of the licensing agreement — and that means the team doesn’t have to, either. As a result, the Ticats have not provided the city with about $1.4-million worth of letters of credit and a $100,000 rental fee to the city for a June pre-season game.

The city, on the other hand, says the stadium meets the team’s requirements. Coun. Lloyd Ferguson says in the city’s eyes, the stadium has reached substantial completion because “it can be used for the purpose of which it was intended.” The deficiencies the Ticats are raising are relatively minor, Ferguson said.

“They’re petty — they’re very, very small,” he said.

Ticats president Scott Mitchell says the deficiencies of particular concern include seats with obstructed views, problems with the point-of-sale system, issues with the audio and video for the stadium, and draft lines for beer and pop.

Mitchell says these issues are “very significant for the operations of the facility.” He adds that once the deficiencies are fixed, the licensing agreement will kick in and the team will happily meet its obligations.

“It’s like being a tenant in a building — you don’t pay rent until you move into the building,” Mitchell said. “It’s either complete as per the licence agreement, or it isn’t.”

At Thursday’s public works meeting, councillors received a closed-door update from staff on the licensing agreement with the Tiger-Cats. A second in-camera discussion about the issue will take place after Friday morning’s council meeting.

Ferguson — who said he can’t go into detail about the in-camera discussion, but agreed to respond to the issues Mitchell raised — says there’s little the city can do to address these issues other than pursue a settlement with Infrastructure Ontario, the provincial agency that oversaw the stadium construction. For example, the obstructed views in some seats are due to a guardrail that was installed for safety reasons.

“The obstructed views can’t be fixed. Period. There’s going to be a settlement that we’ll take up with (IO) afterward,” Ferguson said.

“(Mitchell) agreed to hold our city harmless in all of this. If he has a claim against the stadium being delayed, he needs to direct that through us to Infrastructure Ontario.”

In May, the city announced it was holding back $22 million from Ontario Sports Solutions, the Pan Am Games stadium contractor, due in part to about 800 deficiencies ranging from missing cup holders to the obstructed views the Ticats are concerned about.

As per its contract, the city withheld the value of those deficiencies, multiplied by 200 per cent, until the work is done.

Ontario Sports Solutions had until June 22 to tackle the minor deficiencies. After that cut-off date, the city was permitted to take the millions it withheld and either hire independent contractors or use its own staff to complete the work. Ferguson believes there are 41 deficiencies remaining.