Lessons Learned from the Construction of Tim Hortons Field

In 2012:

  • Ivor Wynne Stadium – while it had its charms and 84 years of history inside of it – was badly outdated and in dire need of replacement.

In 2014:

  • With much fanfare and anticipation, Tim Hortons Field opened as a civic and sporting jewel all Hamiltonians could take pride in.

Image courtesy of StadiumDB.com

But the years leading up to and in between the closure of Ivor Wynne and the opening of Tim Hortons Field were anything but smooth sailing.

If you recall:

  • The Hamilton Tiger-Cats threatened to leave the city.
  • West harbour was preferred by the city while the team wanted something near the airport.
  • There was talk of building the stadium near Confederation Park.
  • Numerous delays pushed the planned opening date back by months.

Even today, it seems everyone still has an opinion on the issue, ranging from the stadium’s location and design to its amenities.

So, what are the lessons Hamilton-Halton Home Builders’ Association members (and citizens at large) can learn from all this?

Getting it done on time vs. getting it done right.

As mentioned at the top of this blog, Tim Hortons Field opened in 2014.

However, as of 2018, the stadium still isn’t finished according to the terms of the contract.

According to the CBC:

  • There are still leaks at various locations throughout the stadium.
  • Stair railings must be updated for health and safety reasons.

That doesn’t include past issues like a giant speaker falling and crushing empty (thankfully) seating.

As a home building professional, you pride yourself on getting the job done right and on time. You wouldn’t sacrifice quality and safety just to meet a deadline.

And you certainly wouldn’t put yourself at risk to meet a deadline which you have zero input on.

Sure, the stadium opened on time (sort of), but what good is it if there are known issues like obstructed seats?

Perhaps the lesson learned here is that the timeline for this project was unrealistic. Part of that was compounded by the fact that the stadium needed to open in time for the Pan Am Games.

Nobody can or wants to move in until all issues are resolved

Did you know Hamilton is supposed to have a soccer team in the brand new Canadian Premier League (CPL)?

In fact, Hamilton is considered a “founding city”, along with Winnipeg and York Region (Vaughan).

But there’s a chance the team will never actually play a game in Hamilton.

That’s because the city will not lease Tim Hortons Field to the team (which will be owned by the Tiger-Cats) until the ongoing lawsuit between the following parties is settled (Source CBC):

  • The Tiger-Cats.
  • The City of Hamilton.
  • Ontario Sports Solutions.
  • The organizing committee of the Pan Am Games.
  • Infrastructure Ontario.
  • Kenaidan Contracting.

Now, who is suing who for what is a giant, tangled web.

While the Ti-Cats are contractually obligated to play at Tim Hortons Field (they have nowhere else to go), the non-existent soccer team can’t even negotiate lease terms until all the lawsuits are settled.

How long will that take? After all, it’s already been 4 years.

As a builder (and homeowner too), you would not expect anyone to move into – or live at – a place which has some much legal uncertainty.

For example, let’s say there’s a faulty appliance in a newly built home:

  • The home buyer blames the builder…
  • …the builder says it’s the supplier…
  • …the supplier blames the distributor…
  • …the distributor points fingers at the manufacturer…
  • …and on and on it goes.

The lesson learned here is that if people don’t deliver what they promise, there are consequences which directly impact other parties.

The building design for the stadium changed mid-project

Image courtesy of ArgoFans.com

Changing the design of a new home while it’s being built isn’t ideal.

So you can well imagine the potential problems the builders of Tim Hortons Field had to deal with when they changed their initial designs (Source CBC).

Some of the design alterations included:

  • Reinforcement of support footings.
  • Structure strengthening.
  • Opening brick walls to install new duct work.
  • Improving load stress.

Of course, that contributed to stadium delays, as contractors and sub-contractors were taken by surprise with these sudden changes.

Now, in some instances, projects can be built and designed simultaneously. But regarding something as large and complex as Tim Hortons Field, maybe this wasn’t such a wise idea.

Maybe the lesson learned here is that old adage: Failing to prepare is preparing to fail. In this case, there shouldn’t have been the need for such drastic changes.

Have something to add? We want to hear from you

If you have any thoughts on the lessons learned from the building of Tim Hortons Field, we’d love you to share them with us.

Contact us with your comments. We look forward to receiving them from you.