Waiting for Details on Ivor Wynne Rebuild Plan

By Ryan McGreal
Published July 15, 2011

this blog entry has been updated

Is Ivor Wynne Stadium being partially or fully rebuilt? It is not yet clear exactly what work will be done as the stadium site is prepared for the 2015 Pan American Games and for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats thereafter.

On Wednesday evening, Hamilton Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young posted a comment on a Ticats Forum discussion that was titled "Ivor Wynne Stadium upgrade" in which he wrote that the plan is not to "upgrade" Ivor Wynne but to "build a brand new stadium" in its place.

Young changed the title of the discussion from "Ivor Wynne Stadium upgrade" to "New PanAm stadium" and wrote:

I had to step in here to fix the title to this thread in order to be very clear: We (the City, the Province, and the Feds, and the Ticats) are not "upgrading" anything. The commitment is to build a brand new stadium on the site of the old Ivor Wynne.

This is news. The plan that Young and Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina presented to Council in January proposed a partial rebuild: the South Stands would be demolished and rebuilt, while the North Stands would be refurbished. That plan may be changing.

RTH contaced Young for clarification on what this means. In an email response, Young wrote:

Everyone is keen to build the most stadium for the money available. The timing is that IO [Infrastructure Ontario] are in the middle of the process of selecting architects and construction companies. Until those teams have had a chance to analyze the site, and current construction costs, we simply don't know how much can be built for the funds available. But it is clear that $150 million (or so) will build a lot of stadium.

The point I was making on the Ticat forums is that this project is much more than simply an "upgrade" of Hamilton's existing Ivor Wynne stadium.

The Pan Am host corporation is not providing any details either. Carlene Siopis, a spokesperson for Toronto 2015, responded in an email to RTH that the stadium project is "currently in RFQ and there are no details that can be shared."

Councillor Lloyd Ferguson, who co-chairs the Pan Am Stadium Subcommittee with Councillor Bernie Morelli, responded to an inquiry from RTH by writing:

The City has not had a request to do anything different than was approved by Council when the Ivor Wynne site was approved. There has been no mention of any potential changes at the committee.

RTH contacted Infrastructure Ontario for more details on the RFQ process. In an email response, Terence Foran confirmed that IO is currently undertaking a request for qualifications and added that IO is "not in a position to share further information" until the details have been finalized.

We are still in the request for qualifications stage. Until the request for proposals is issued, we are not in a position to share further information as details have not been finalized. All groups involved in this project – Infrastructure Ontario, TO2015, the City of Hamilton and Tiger-Cats – are having amicable and productive discussions to develop the request for proposals.

Update 1: This blog entry was updated to include a response from Councillor Lloyd Ferguson, which RTH received on the morning of Sunday, July 17. You can jump to the added paragraph.

Update 2: This blog entry originally defined an RFQ as a Request For Quotations, which is normally the practice of inviting contractors to bid on the units of work to be completed. However, as one commenter pointed out, RFQ can also mean Request For Qualifications, in which potential contractors demonstrate that they are qualified to bid on work that has not yet been finalized. RTH is still waiting to hear back from Infrastructure Ontario on the details of the RFQ process underway for the Pan Am Stadium.

Update 3: Infrastructure Ontario responded by email on the morning of Monday, July 18. You can jump to the added paragraph.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.


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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted July 15, 2011 at 14:26:42

I get the impression that this is spin - that because they're fixing up half the stadium and replacing the other half, "upgrade" would downplay the extent of the work being done.

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted July 15, 2011 at 15:57:58 in reply to Comment 66242

I think this is spin as well. Trying to get people out of thinking "renovation" as in a fresh coat of paint.

I think of what they are doing is more like on "American Hot Rod" when they take a car down to its frame and chassis and basically rebuild from scratch.

Closest examples on this side of the pond are Everbank Field in Jacksonville which was built using sections and infrastructure of the old Gator Bowl

or "New Soldier Field" which retrofitted a stadium OVER the existing Greek Columns

For the more adventurist, how about this for a funky design? St. James Park in the UK. The team has been playing on the same site for longer than Ivor Wynne (1880!). Like New Ivor Wynne, it will have one side taller than the other bit I love how they brough tthem together! You certainly cna't accuse it of being cookie cutter.'_park/87.php

Lastly, here is an interesting tidbit found on Larry Pattison's Save Ivor Wynne site in the youtube clip- They may close off Cannon between Balsam and Melrose to make it a "true precinct". I would be SHOCKED if that went through (pleasantly shocked though)!

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By Robert D (anonymous) | Posted July 15, 2011 at 14:48:54

"But it is clear that $150 million (or so) will build a lot of stadium."

Really? Huh...that's funny, I seem to remember it being necessary that the province, city, etc. toss in "extra" money in order to reach the magic number that would make a stadium all of a sudden we're buying "a lot of stadium"...did Hamilton city council sign onto that? Did the province?

If I were city council I'd consider putting some money back into the future fund if they're talking about building something "over and above" what was discussed...

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted July 15, 2011 at 16:02:57 in reply to Comment 66244

Depends on the MoE I guess...

If it is underbudget do they finish under budget or do they "bell and whistle" it to $150mm?

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By Steve (registered) | Posted July 15, 2011 at 15:13:45 in reply to Comment 66244

Why would they want to put money back in the Future Fund, that would go against their goal to fully deplete the "perpetual" funding generator.

With the Mac Building getting the final chunk of the FF money, the goal of killing the FF is easily achievable, and now within reach.

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By JasonAAllen (registered) - website | Posted July 15, 2011 at 16:02:09

I think $150 million is a great investment for a team that hasn't won a game all year, and shows no sign of being able to do so...

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted July 15, 2011 at 16:10:16 in reply to Comment 66253

If that was the case the Leafs and Raptors would regressing to play at Mutual Street Arena!

Team record should have nothing to do whether these things are built.

Using a business model would be a better argument. The Cats are in better shape but still lacking overall. Makes it harder to justify a $45mm handout

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By rednic (registered) | Posted July 15, 2011 at 16:59:52 in reply to Comment 66255

45 million handout are you telling me bob young is putting up 105 million ? As i read the stories qbout this the tiecats are putting in pretty much zilch, zero , nada ....

As far as i know (unless you are a teacher) none of your money was spent building maple leaf gardens so the record of the leafs is not really of much import in this story. For the money the city is putting into this , they should offer bob young a dollar and tell him to catch the first bus out of town and run the Tiecats as a community team ..

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted July 15, 2011 at 22:50:08 in reply to Comment 66259

Since this site deals primarily with City of Hamilton Transactions, I refered to their portion of the bill only.

I only wanted to make a point that $$ should not be based on wins and losses but based on their business. They leafs are cash cow and get private investment.

The cats- not so much. They should have taken the public money offered and said thanks.

Comment edited by Vod_Kann on 2011-07-15 22:52:53

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By TnT (registered) | Posted July 15, 2011 at 16:14:24

The most worrisome thing about this is how much power Bob Young is wielding. It may have seen like a simple change of phrase can cost a lot of money. 150 million is just walking around money. It could have built alot stadium at west harbor.

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By rednic (registered) | Posted July 15, 2011 at 16:52:20 in reply to Comment 66256

Well thats it when 150 million of OPM ( other peoples money) its chump change , when 150 million of your money its a fortune.

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By TreyS (registered) | Posted July 15, 2011 at 20:16:28

No one will know anything wrt what the stadium will look like until architects start designing. Stay patient, designers are at work. There is plenty of money to build a first-class stadium. And the architects that win the contract will definitely want to have this in their portfolio as a show piece that they will also be proud of. After all it's not every day that an architect gets to work on a multi-purpose stadium.

No one will be able to recognize Ivor Wynne once it is built. To call it a reno/half a stadium/paint-job is really just being silly sour grapes. Just wait and see, this stadium will be awesome, Hamilton will be proud.

Comment edited by TreyS on 2011-07-15 21:03:21

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted July 17, 2011 at 14:13:26 in reply to Comment 66264

I agree with your points Trey. That is sort of how I seen Bob's bomb that he dropped late that night just before I went to bed, that left a few late night forum-goers scratching their heads.

I can see why he wants to avoid the comments that you see so often, about half a stadium build and such and as you stated and as Bob later talked about the next morning on the Cats forum, about how until they (IO) see exactly what they are facing with regards to the north stands, it could be much more of a new build or total north stands new build, than was originally anticipated.

I don't think anyone is going to complain if there is enough money in the kitty to do it all properly and just start anew. It was more the way Bob dropped a bomb and went to bed that bothered me. He is likely tired of misconceptins but then he leaves half a message which in turn, opened up more what if's and well, if he would have given us the entire message up front much speculation could have been avoided.

Trey, you are a graphic artist. Mahesh might also be able to add more to this specific question as well, but would it be out of the question if they were to open up the design process on this to everything from students, back-yard designers and small firms to large firms, to see what everyone could come up with to give us the best bang/design for our buck, possibly bringing back some historic features like the concrete wall/entranceway that once lined Beechwood in the Civic Stadium days. Or a design that would allow us to keep 30,000 seats and some kind of semi-permanent endzone that doesn't feel like cheap bleachers, yet would still be able to add the extra endzone seating required to host a Grey Cup?

If this is a commmunity stadium, wouldn't it be a great way to start this project and planning of a stadium district, by opening up the design process to the public and see what comes out of it? The architects will all be able to decipehr won't won't work and of course IO will have to approve of the plans, but just wondering.

I know nothing of this sort of process. I understand RFQ's in both forms (quote/qualification) as I have been involved in a few major ones myself, but nothing to do with the buildilng of a stadium or anything of the likes.

I know with cable, every firm that wants to submit a proposal does their own design with a general idea having been provided to them, of what is required. If the city, citizens, Cats, IO etc. all listed their requirements and nice to haves and of course the budget/timeline is known, than why would we limit this to just major firms. Just because some high school student who is a great designer and has had a weird facination with books on building planning, codes and guidlines and safety standards, bu doesn't have a degree in architecutral design, why shouldn't he have a crack at a drawing? The firm who wins the build portion of the RFQ, could fix any minor erros in the design and give it their stamp, etc.

This is a big thing for Hamilton, Cats fans, and even the CFL in general. I just want this to be something special. I know in many ways it will be either way, but I would like to see the fans and citizens of this city, have some input. What don't they want to lose? What haven't we had that we would like to see? What can we sacrifice and we won't miss it? Do we really need some of the bells and whistles that would cause us to lose out on keeping such and such?

At the end of the day the powers that be will make the final decisions but I think we go a long way in opening up this whole process more as everyone is asking what is going on. Be a little more transparent here if we can. That's all I am personally asking. What is the next step in a little more detail. How does this RFQ process work from initial designs, to who will build it.

The public owns/will continue to own this stadium, so where is their money going and how is this thing their taxes (municipal, provnincial, and federal), being built?

We aren't talking about private cable companies here. We are talking about something being built FOR citizens. We have been talking about Open Data for quite awhile now. If you can't open a door, then why?

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By Vod_Kann (registered) | Posted July 15, 2011 at 23:08:14 in reply to Comment 66264

That's the hope- something transformative for an area that could use it.

Went to the exhibition game a couple of weeks ago and going to Ivor Wynne IS a great city experience. the walk through the neighbourhood with people on their porches, drumlines outside the park really gets you in the mood better than hanging at Skytomb (and is world's better than an East Montain stadium lodged between Leon's and Home Depot).

We must keep on council AND the Cats to build something amazing but also keeps the neighbourhood stadium feel (that is getting rarer and rarer in the sports world).

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By Caroline (anonymous) | Posted July 15, 2011 at 21:03:10

An RFQ can be either a "Request for Quote" or "Request for Qualifications", In the case of this stadium, TO2015 is doing a "Request for Qualifications". Simply put, they are only asking for companies to show interest in the project so they can pre-qualify them (i.e. check finances and similar project builds) to see if they are possibly capable of doing the job.

So, TO 2015 is still at the stage of designing what $150 million can buy - and agreeing with the previous poster, it will buy a lot more than an upgrade to Ivor Wynne (most people with construction experience would know that right from the beginning). While getting a pretty new full stadium is a positive thing, it's such a shame that decisions get forced using faulty information. Realistically, it will never be known the actual cost for any of the locations - it was all pie in the sky without any real plans. And yes, of course, Bob wins big time in this.

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By Nord Blanc (anonymous) | Posted July 16, 2011 at 13:56:09

I'm sure that $150 million won't go nearly as far as they hope. I would not expect construction contractors to pass on a chance to juice the taxpayer for a bit more dosh, especially when we've also thoughtfully furnished them with a credible excuse for doing so: A constricted project timeline.

"Cost overruns are extremely likely in stadium projects. Overruns often run to 40% and can run as high as 500% -- a recent study cited by New York magazine of fourteen stadium projects revealed an average construction cost overrun of 73%.(5) Of the four cities that have most recently construction major sports facilities - Seattle, Denver, Houston and Pittsburgh - the costs have exceeded even what independent analysts predicted. The potential danger to local taxpayers, however, only exists only when the public sector participants are expected to pay. Safeco Field in Seattle, the first baseball stadium with full retractable roof, was built at a cost of $517 million, and was more than $100 million over projections. At the same time, the Seattle Mariners were responsible for cost overruns, so the public was protected."

No mystery as to which partner has the greater commitment (and exposure) on IWS 2.0.

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By SpaceMonkee (anonymous) | Posted July 16, 2011 at 15:27:21

The more Bob Young speaks, the more of a snake he seems to me.

"We (the City, the Province, and the Feds, and the Ticats) are not "upgrading" anything"

"we simply don't know how much can be built for the funds available"

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By RichardDenOtter (registered) - website | Posted July 17, 2011 at 09:46:14

I seem to remember the council was complaining about "padded" numbers used by IO. The $150M figure was basically pulled out of the air, given the time constraints under which the cost estimates had to be produced. In my mind they are currently asking the architects & builders to present their proposals of what can be done within that budget. Then a decision will be made how much of an "upgrade" this will be. The uncertainty around construction costs might be one of the reasons why the council is hesitant on the LRT.

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