NEWS

No public water fountains at Hamilton's new football stadium

09/11/2014 12:10 EDT | Updated 11/11/2014 05:59 EST
If you want a drink of water at Hamilton’s brand new football stadium, you’ll have to pay for it.

And no one involved in the project seems to know why.

Tim Hortons Field, home of the Tiger-Cats and the soccer events at next summer’s Pan Am Games, has no public water fountains. Fans looking for water will have to buy it from the concession stands, where under a 20-year licence agreement with the city, the Tiger-Cats take the bulk of the profits.

Gerry Davis, the City of Hamilton’s general manager of public works, said when the $145-million stadium is finally completed, it will only have fountains in the dressing room and office areas.

The entire stadium will have drinkable water, Davis said, but bans on bringing in bottles would make it difficult to fill up at a bathroom sink. Davis said the stadium’s site design plan, agreed to by the city, didn’t include fountains.

Nobody would definitively say why the stadium, built by Ontario Sports Solutions (ONSS) with funding from all three levels of government, isn’t equipped with fountains.

Teddy Katz, spokesman for the Pan Am Games, said TO2015 organizers are aware of the lack of fountains, and are making arrangements to address the issue during the games.

"We hope to have water trucks for spectators there at games time," Katz said in an email.

The soccer matches are set to be played between 5 and 10 p.m. in mid-July, when the average daily temperatures is around 27 C.

Earlier this week, Hamilton Tiger-Cats President and Chief Operating Officer Glenn Gibson said he had “no idea” about fountains at the field.

“You’re the first one that’s asked that question,” Gibson told CBC News.

“That’s a question that someone else would probably have to answer, either at the city or ONSS.”

After this story was published, CFL spokesman Jamie Dykstra said in an email: “It’s our understanding that the Ticats are addressing this issue.

When asked to elaborate on what the club was planning, Dykstra declined to comment.

“We don’t speak on behalf of the Ticats.”

CBC Hamilton is seeking an updated comment from the Tiger-Cats.

Coun. Lloyd Ferguson, who heads the city’s Pan Am subcommittee, was surprised to hear about the absence of fountains, and said he wanted to look into the issue before commenting.

According to the city’s licence agreement with the Tiger-Cats, “the stadium is intended to become a community asset,” that will serve as a gathering space for “health, wellness and family fitness programming.”

Concessions ran out of water

During the first-ever event at Tim Hortons Field — the Labour Day Classic between the Ticats and Toronto Argonauts — concession stands on both concourses briefly ran out of bottled water ($3.50 for a 591 millilitre bottle of Dasani) minutes after kickoff and stadium staff were forced to scramble to restock.

Scott Mitchell, the Tiger-Cats President, said the stadium "in no way" ran out of water during the game, but said there may have been moments where concessions had to be re-stocked.

Without the use of the building’s elevators — still under construction at game time — employees carried cases of water up the main stairways as the temperature climbed above 27 C.

Gibson said he heard about the water shortage, but chalked it up to playing a game in an unfinished stadium.

“You’ve got to remember the elevators weren’t working. We were restricted with what we could bring on to certain levels,” he said.

Gibson said he didn’t receive any complaints about the availability of water.

The stadium never ran out beer, which sells for $9 per can.

Not the case elsewhere

Infrastructure Ontario, the Crown corporation owned by the province that oversaw the stadium’s development, said other new Pan Am facilities — including Milton’s velodrome, which will host track cycling events, and Scarborough’s new aquatic centre, which will host swimming and diving — both have public water stations.

Other major sports facilities in the GTA, including the Air Canada Centre, Rogers Centre and BMO Field, all have public water fountains where fans can fill up.

Most have some rules over what kind of bottles can be brought in, but clear plastic bottles are normally OK.

Hamilton’s FirstOntario Centre, however, doesn’t have public fountains either.

Tim Hortons Field is set to host its next game on Sunday, when the Tiger-Cats play the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Country star Keith Urban is set to play the first-ever concert at the stadium on Sept. 27.

If you have information about this story, please contact John Rieti.

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