Local News - Thursday, August 16, 2007 @ 00:00
The downtown arena will be open and ready by late February - and the builder has guaranteed it.
This morning, the city will announce that the opening date for the sports and entertainment centre is Feb. 22, 2008, when the Kingston Frontenacs hockey team faces the Belleville Bulls.
The opening date would give the team seven home games before the end of the regular season.
"We shouldn't be experiencing any other delays," said project manager Lanie Hurdle. Any further delays that are within the control of builder EllisDon would put it in violation of its contract, she said.
Bob Smith, senior vice-president of design build with EllisDon, could not be reached yesterday.
The contract with EllisDon allows the city to order the builder to spend whatever money is needed to speed up construction at no additional cost to the city. Council has heard the city has invoked the clause once. However, the clause is nullified if delays at the site are caused by labour disruptions beyond the control of EllisDon.
The opening date for the downtown arena had been delayed, according to the city, as a result of two strikes by workers at the site.
Crane operators across the province went on strike for a week while labourers followed with a three-week strike of their own.
The original opening date was to be Jan. 18, when the Frontenacs were to play host to the Ottawa 67's, but delays in construction scrapped that date.
Yesterday, the city received a guaranteed date from builder EllisDon, information it had been waiting on since the strikes came to a close.
Hurdle said the arena will be open a day or two before the first game to give the public access to the facility for tours.
Workers from EllisDon will continue working on the facility after it opens for about a month to ensure things run smoothly, Hurdle said. "The building will be open and operational, but EllisDon will have a few items to wrap up," she said.
Final approval for the building's site plan should come this week as well, Hurdle said. While the city still hasn't received approval for completing construction from its own planning department, it should receive it this week conditional to a final submission from a noise consultant, Hurdle said.
Work on the precast for the seating around the bowl of the arena will continue in the coming weeks and work on the limestone is set to start some time next week, Hurdle said.
The delay will also bring some added costs for insurance and staffing salaries, but the contingency fund for the more than $46.1-million project will cover those extra costs. When city staff assessed the financial risks embedded with the facility, they found that any delays in completion could decrease the amount of revenues at the facility as laid out in the business plan.
"Any delays past the scheduled completion date will create serious risks with respect to the realization of anticipated cash flows and debt repayment schedules," staff wrote in a report dated Feb. 14.
A $2-million fundraising campaign for the arena, which is to help pay for the facility, has raised just over $533,000 since its launch. City staff have said the total money needs to be raised before the arena opens.