Hamilton’s Ivor Wynne to be replaced, not rebuilt

While we’re in Canada, it was announced last week that Ivor Wynne Stadium, home of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, won’t be getting a renovation as approved last February, but instead will be completely demolished and replaced. The rebuild, city officials promised, could be done under the same $152 million budget, so why not buy a new stadium instead of keeping half an old one?

It sounds reasonable enough, except for the bit where this was apparently decided back in April but not made public until now. As the Hamilton Spectator editorialized last week:

By the way, how does it happen that a complete rebuild will cost the same as rebuilding the south and renovating the north? Again, we’re told, don’t worry your little heads about it. According to senior city staff, more study on the project resulted in a more “refined” cost estimate. So the original estimate was too high? But why? And since city council made the Ivor Wynne decision based on the original cost and project description, doesn’t this mean the decision was made on inaccurate information?

So the north stands will go from benches to seats. But how much money could have been saved by sticking with the original plan — $5 million, $10 million? Shouldn’t council have had the option of making that decision instead of being presented with a fait accompli? Shouldn’t council have had the chance to decide between applying the savings to other projects — say the increasingly expensive velodrome — or putting the money back into the Future Fund where it came from originally?

Apparently not. The decision was made and communicated to a bewildered city council. Poof. New stadium. Don’t worry, be happy.


7 comments on “Hamilton’s Ivor Wynne to be replaced, not rebuilt

  1. Never been there but from what I have read, the $20M CDN stadium called Empire Field in Vancouver is quite a 27,000 seat stadium. I don’t know how much more it would cost for bells and whistles, but why aren’t more of these kinds of stadium proposed?

    Heard that so taxpayers in Vancouver wouldn’t get upset with what was paid to redo BC Place, it was deliberately decided not to spend an additional $10M to really make Empire Field looks spiffy.

    I write all that to say, Ivor Wynn redone by the people who put Empire Field together might have been a better option.

  2. Never been there but from what I have read, the $20M CDN stadium called Empire Field in Vancouver is quite a 27,000 seat stadium. I don’t know how much more it would cost for bells and whistles, but why aren’t more of these kinds of stadium proposed?

    Heard that so taxpayers in Vancouver wouldn’t get upset with what was paid to redo BC Place, it was deliberately decided not to spend an additional $10M to really make Empire Field looks spiffy.

    I write all that to say, Ivor Wynn redone by the people who put Empire Field together might have been a better option.

  3. Christopher;

    Empire fields is a very nice stadium, however it is entirely ‘temporary’ in nature. There are no permanent toilets, concession facilities etc. the stands are all “scaffolding style” structures wrapped in fabric to give the illusion of being a fixture (if you’ve ever been in a temp stand at a golf course or temporary racetrack, you’ve seen exactly what this facility is).

    That said, I agree with the idea in principle. There is no practical reason that a sporting facility can’t use temporary stands and seating, so long as it’s regularly maintained and inspected. But I think even the most BC Place-phobic of fans will admit that permanent bathrooms and actual concourses aren’t optional.

    I’d say a proper “hybrid” stadium that features a couple of permanent administration/concession/locker room buildings that lead out to stands composed mostly (or entirely) of temp seating could be built, and probably for less than $40m. In fact, Glenn Suitor (TSN commentator) suggested that this exact thing would be uniquely suited to the CFL.

    I can’t wait for someone to try it, particularly for football (where less comfortable seating is not as big an issue as with ‘every day’ sports, for example). Some of the savings would certainly be eaten up by increased maintenance and workforce requirements, but when you are saving $110-120M (or 75% of construction cost), you can pay a lot of extra wages and still be money ahead.

  4. One item I’ve never been able to track down but would love to is line-item cost breakdowns for major stadium and arena projects. I know the first time I visited Red Bull Arena in New Jersey, I was stunned that the place cost $200 million given that it’s mostly just a bunch of aluminum bleachers with a small half-roof. Not that that’s a criticism of the design – 20,000 soccer fans stomping in time on aluminum is pretty awesome – but I do wonder where all the money went when other MLS stadiums cost under $100 million.

  5. It’s an interesting question, Neil. I know from residential construction that hiring a full time construction management firm tends to add somewhere between 15-25% to the total (at least here, they charge a flat fee and then a percentage on all work they manage). Any time you are dealing with a full time architectural firm, I’d add another 10% at least (not a fan).

    In RBA’s case, I would suggest that the land contamination and prep (they had to remove a bunch of old concrete under the site that “no-one” knew about) probably added $10-20m, not least because of delays.

    But $200m is steep, even for a great facility like that (I still think it’s the best MLS stadium so far, you?). RSL built a very good stadium (I think anyway) for just over half that, though I’m not sure whether that included the land or not? Balanced against that, we have BMO field – built for about $70m including add ons after the fact. But the ‘missing’ $30m shows: the place is best described as spartan.

    Still, like Crew Stadium ($30m as I recall) or whatever they are calling Rochester’s facility these days, there really is nothing wrong with the bargain basement stadia. They are purpose built soccer facilities and really, if you can’t handle sitting in plastic seats on aluminum grandstands 15-18 times a year, you’re probably not that interested in the sport anyway. On the ‘continuum’ of fan experiences, I’d rather watch soccer on a dedicated pitch in a cheap plastic chair than watch it in an NFL stadium in comparative comfort.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.
NOTE: Personal attacks on other commenters are not allowed in comments, and will be deleted.

HTML tags are not allowed.

755,814 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments