Stadium Stalemate

The Phase 2 report has now been received and will be considered by city council on Tuesday evening.

As expected the primary focus is on questions of location and design. The consultant’s report, supported by the Steering Committee, has made a sensible argument that Dartmouth Crossing is the best location and has provided a design that meets FIFA requirements while allowing for possible future uses.

But the report is perhaps most noteworthy for what is not there. The more fundamental questions are ignored or are barely acknowledged:

  1. Where are the other sources of capital? No sponsor has been identified and neither of the other two levels of government has made a commitment. Clearly HRM cannot do this on its own. So to keep the project alive it is proposed that the Canadian Soccer Association be asked for a six month extension on Halifax’s decision to be a candidate.
  2. And what would happen if (surprisingly) this was granted? At the moment the cost to build is only estimated at a Class C level. This is useful for distinguishing alternatives but not for providing a firm sense of cost. Can the six month interval be used to improve the estimate? Yes, but it would require detailed design and materials estimates. Creating these would cost more than twice the amount of money already spent , and firms are unlikely to do the front end work needed to bid on a design/build contract on a project that may not happen.
  3. If a go decision was not made until mid 2012 it would increase the already substantial risk that the facility would not be ready in time for the 2015 event.
  4. The report continues to use event and attendance figures after 2015 that are highly speculative. The most useful possible resource would be experience at similar facilities in Canada but these seem not to have been researched. An inspection of the websites for those facilities reveals little event activity.
  5. Inexplicably the pro forma forecasts do not include the operating projections for major events. Acquiring the FIFA games will require $2,250,000 in cash and in kind services and significant special facilities. Other national and international events will have similar requirements in proportion to their attendance potential. Are those considered in the numbers?

It is to be hoped that HRM Council will not spend any more money in pursuit of the FIFA timetable. But perhaps a good case can be made for a community facility with 1,000 to 2,000 seats in the preferred Dartmouth Crossing location.