Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Cracks in stadium cosmetic

Concourse concrete being repaired

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Cracks have been found in the concrete floors and sidewalks at Investors Group Stadium.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Cracks have been found in the concrete floors and sidewalks at Investors Group Stadium. Photo Store

Cracks have emerged at Investors Group Field that have nothing to do with the Blue Bomber O-line's ability to protect quarterback Buck Pierce.

The concrete slabs on the concourse of Winnipeg's new $200-million football stadium are beset with cracks, described as cosmetic by the chairman of the organization responsible for the new home of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and University of Manitoba Bisons.

"It's all part of natural shrinkage," said Phil Sheegl, president of BBB Stadium Inc., a tax-exempt, non-profit entity created in 2010 to develop and build Investors Group Field on behalf of the city, province, university and football club.

There are no structural concerns regarding the cracks in the slab concrete, Winnipeg Football Club spokesman Darren Cameron said in a statement. The building passed inspections and was granted an occupancy permit, added Sheegl, who's also the City of Winnipeg's chief administrative officer.

Cosmetic cracks on outdoor facilities can lead to more serious problems over time, given the long-term effects of moisture on concrete after a number of freeze-thaw cycles. Some of the cracks on the stadium concourse have already been filled.

Sheegl said the Winnipeg Football Club will not be on the hook for maintaining the concrete. A guaranteed-maximum-price agreement between BBB Stadium Inc. and Stuart Olson Dominion will require the construction firm to maintain the concrete under warranty, he said.

Stuart Olson Dominion did not respond to requests for comment.

The stadium was built with the help of a $22.5-million provincial grant, a $7.5-million city grant, a $10-million BBB Stadium loan and a $160-million provincial loan. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers plan to use revenue to repay the entire BBB Stadium loan as well as $85 million of the provincial loan. Property taxes from new developments at the former Canad Inns Stadium site will cover the remaining $75-million cost.

Premier Greg Selinger said he is not concerned about concrete cracks he described as "small items" that will not have a significant effect on a structure he said will serve "as one of the finest stadiums in the country" for years to come.

"These minor items need to be cleaned up and they will be cleaned up. As long as the stadium is safe and accessible and used by as many people as possible, it's a good investment," Selinger said Thursday.

He also dismissed the notion a guaranteed maximum price for the building could result in deficiencies in the structure.

"Every method of contracting has its strengths and its issues with it. When you have a guaranteed maximum price, it puts full pressure on everybody to deliver value," Selinger said.

"Sometimes lawsuits emerge out of that, but what's important is to get the best value for everybody that's contributing to the cost of the new stadium and to have a good, safe, facility. Everything I've heard so far is that safety is not compromised by any of these issues."

The stadium opened to the public in May after a year-long construction delay initially attributed to high winds during the winter of 2011-12.

Stadium contractor Stuart Olson Dominion laid the blame for the delay at the feet of structural-steel contractor Structal Heavy Steel Construction. Structal blamed Stuart Olson Dominion for building the foundation too late. A lawsuit over the delay and resulting costs is tied up in the courts.

bartley.kives@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 21, 2013 B1

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Updated on Friday, June 21, 2013 at 6:56 AM CDT: replaces photo, adds links, adds fact box

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