Talks continue in Tim Hortons Field dispute

The province hopes to settle Tim Hortons Field disputes outside the courtroom despite tens of millions in threatened legal claims, says the head of Infrastructure Ontario.

The provincial agency oversaw construction of the $145-million stadium that was turned over to the city unfinished and nearly a year late last May. Building repairs remain outstanding seven weeks before the Hamilton Tiger-Cats’ first home game.

Duelling notices of action filed in Superior Court by the football team and the city name each other, the province, contractor Ontario Sports Solutions and Pan Am Games organizers.

But Bert Clark, president of Infrastructure Ontario, said in a statement Friday the threatened claims won’t derail ongoing talks to “find a positive path forward.”

He said the filing of notices is “a normal part of the legal process to prevent expiry of limitation periods and does not necessarily mean a lawsuit will follow.” Clark said the legal process forbids him from discussing the particulars of negotiations.

But the city’s threatened claim — $35 million against the contractor and province — specifies damages over constructions delays, disputed contract items, “non-compliance” with the contract, warranty failings, minor deficiencies and unspecified IT work.

A representative from Ontario Sports Solutions did not respond to requests for comment.

The city also asks for $14 million on behalf of the Ticats for damages and missed games — while also claiming $4.5 million from the football club in unspecified delay damages.

The Ticats’ notice of action claims damages against the province, contractor and city, but does not specify dollar amounts. The notice does say the city breached “express and implied contractual obligations” under the stadium licensing agreement.

None of the allegations have been tested in court.

The city and Ticats clashed last summer over when the 20-year licensing agreement actually kicks in. The agreement triggered new rent payments and the provision of a $1.4-million letter of credit, among other things.

Both city manager Chris Murray and a team statement emphasized the legal notices are simply meant to preserve their legal rights as negotiations continue. Both sides say the legal wrangling hasn’t affected the relationship between landlord and tenant — but it has forced a clampdown on basic information about the stadium.

Murray and team spokesperson Aaron Gogishvili both declined to answer questions about what work is left to be done in the stadium, or how specific problems would be fixed in time for the start of the football season in June.

Last year, outstanding problems listed by the city that fans would notice included:

•missing draft beer and soft drink lines;

•32 television screens in the outdoor concourse destroyed by rain;

•allegations by the Ticats that several hundred seats have “obstructed” views, despite Infrastructure Ontario’s opinion all 22,500 seats have a “continuous” view of the field of play;

•cracked concrete and broken automatic taps and toilets;

•non-functional drains that left some fans sitting with feet in pools of water.

Murray said work continues to prepare the stadium for football season. He said Friday he can no longer talk about specific deficiencies, but “In terms of beer continuing to be sold at the stadium, the simple answer is yes.”

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