Generators the latest issue at problem-plagued Tim Hortons Field

A major transformer problem forced Hamilton’s problem-plagued new stadium to run off generator power during Friday’s Tiger-Cats football game.

The city scrambled to bring in a bank of portable generators on a flatbed truck ahead of the Ticats’ game against the Edmonton Eskimos after a transformer failed Wednesday.

The $145-million stadium relies on two transformers, but the city eventually determined there was not enough capacity to handle the game, said facilities head Rom D’Angelo.

“We worked around the clock to ensure we had the appropriate contingencies in place,” said D’Angelo, who added the generators may be used for all four remaining CFL games this year, depending on the severity of the transformer damage. He did not have a cost estimate for the generators immediately available.

The cause of the transformer failure is still under investigation, D’Angelo said.

Regardless, he said the city intends to treat the issue as another in an increasingly long list of stadium “defects” — including a tower speaker that plummeted into the stands last spring — that must be addressed by the builder and Infrastructure Ontario.

“We’re absolutely frustrated,” he said. “We’re talking about a brand new stadium and these are major defects that could impact the safety and operation of the facility.”

Tiger-Cats CEO Scott Mitchell said he didn’t want to talk during Friday night’s game, but sent a brief email response. “This is a city issue. There is no effect on our game day experience,” he said.

The emergency power play was certainly news to Ticats fan Wally Walker, who watched Friday’s game from the second-level stands. “I didn’t notice anything,” he tweeted shortly after Edmonton took a third-quarter 15-11 lead. “All is well … except for the score.”

At one point in the game, TSN lost its broadcast feed and pointed a finger at stadium power problems, but the city disputed the claim.

The stadium was delivered to the city a year late and still unfinished just before the 2015 Pan Am Games. The city has been working to fix a list of deficiencies and latent defects, with the intention of recouping the cost later.

The city, football team, stadium builder and Infrastructure Ontario have been negotiating for months over who is responsible for the fixes and late delivery. All parties are also enmeshed in a related lawsuit that will only proceed if negotiations fail.

D’Angelo said the city is expecting an update report on safety issues in the stadium and a forensic report on the bar-fridge-sized speaker that fell from a tower into the stadium seats this spring. Following that incident, the city paid a consultant to safety-check “everything in the air.”

He said the city won’t know until next week how long it might take to fix or replace the problem transformer. While generators will be needed for Ticats games, D’Angelo said the remaining functional transformer can power the stadium for “day-to-day use.”

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