HAMILTON, Ont. -- Hamilton's new stadium isn't quite half finished with just seven months before it's scheduled to open, but Pan Am Games CEO Ian Troop and Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina vow it will be done on time and on budget.
"You bet," Troop told reporters Thursday during a tour of the construction site. "We're right on track."
The CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats are slated to move into the $145.7-million state-of-the-art facility on June 30, 2014.
"We started it with that in mind and we're right on track," said Troop, who heads up the organizing committee for the 2015 Pan Am Games.
The stadium, which will host all 32 men's and women's soccer games at the Pan Ams, is being built on a 5.45-hectare parcel of land where the historic Ivor Wynne Stadium once stood. Bratina said if there are things that aren't completed by June, they will be minor and won't threaten the scheduled opening.
"There may be some washrooms that need painting or something like that," Bratina said. "With several months to go and assurances from contractors we're looking good, I'm sure it will be minor cosmetics that may be left over.
"But certainly I think by the end of June we'll be playing football and soccer in this stadium."
Hamilton will want to avoid the issues Winnipeg had with its new stadium, which was scheduled to open for the 2012 CFL season but didn't see any football until 2013 due to construction delays.
The Pam Am Games organizing committee says the stadium is more than 46 per cent complete and "progressing on time and on budget." The structural steel frame is roughly 96 per cent done while more than 80 per cent of the high voltage electrical work has been finished.
The committee says pre-cast concrete installation (over structural steel frame ) is 22 per cent done, more than half of the underground mechanical and electrical work is complete, masonry block installation on the west and south sides has begun, steel decks for pedestrian areas are more than 90 per cent finished and foundation work is also complete.
Pre-cast concrete will be complete early in the new year, the organizing committee said, while seating and turf installation will happen in the spring.
The stadium will feature two tiers of seats on both sides of the field with an initial seating capacity of 22,500. But that could expand to 40,000 seats for major events like the Grey Cup. It will meet all the technical requirements of both the CFL and FIFA, soccer's governing body.
The new field has shifted 90 degrees to a north-south axis from Ivor Wynne's east-west format. The move is designed to minimize the effect of the sun on athletes and reduce wind inside the facility.
"You think in terms of the old Ivor Wynne and you come here and start realizing what's being built here is quite an impressive facility," Troop said. "You can see the size and height and the nature of what's going to be here and your mind quickly wanders to what it's going to be like when you've got the championship soccer games during the Pan Am Games."
It will have a seating capacity of roughly 24,000 for Ticats home games and also feature 700 club seats, 400 group sales suites seats, 30 VIP suites, six elevators, larger seats, updated press and broadcasting facilities and concession stands on all levels.
The stadium will be able to host professional and amateur sports competitions as well as cultural events. There will also be a public plaza in the south end.
The federal government is footing $69.3 million of the bill. The city of Hamilton is paying $54.1 million with the province chipping in the remaining $22.3 million.
Bratina understands people doubting the project will finish on time and on budget but said he's sensing a shift in public sentiment regarding the stadium.
"Overriding that is actual pride in the building," he said. "I'm hearing less concern and more,'Wow.'
The stadium is located in a residential section of the city but Bratina says it's a welcome addition to the neighbourhood.
"The neighbours are all excited about it and some of them are even saying their property values have gone up so there's another conversation going on I don't think it's as strongly oriented towards budgeting and time," he said.