The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

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Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg. When not breaking exclusive stories, we analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight bias, ignorance, incompetence, flawed logic, missed angles and, where warranted, good work. We serve as the only overall news monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.) EMAIL: black_rod_usher@yahoo.com

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Searching for the Blue Bomber stadium overrun millions


My, my....has it only been two months since The Black Rod broke the story of millions of dollars in cost overruns on the new Blue Bombers stadium?
The Winnipeg MSM ignored the story as long as they could, but by early September, when even the Hamilton Spectator was reporting the  cost of the stadium was approaching a quarter of a billion dollars, they were forced to do some reporting of their own.

These days you can barely pick up a newspaper without seeing another story on the stadium as the Bombers admit the facility has repeatedly breached the "guaranteed" maximum price of $190 million.

The difference is that our primary source, who we're calling A Person In A Position To Know, says the cost overrun is in the vicinity of $40 million, and the Blue Bombers only 'fess up to $14 million.  But given our man's accuracy so far, including the detail way back in July that the hidden costs included insulating mechanical systems, our money is on him.

Here's how Winnipeg Free Press reporter Bartley Kives played catch-up last week:
Extra bucks hover over stadium
Stakeholders kicking the bill around
By: Bartley Kives
Posted: 09/20/2013
The price tag for Winnipeg's new football stadium has risen to nearly $204 million, thanks to $3.5 million of additional work at Investors Group Field.
BBB Stadium Inc., the non-profit organization responsible for building the 33,500-seat facility at the University of Manitoba, is trying to sort out who will pay a $3.5-million tab for work done to the stadium outside the scope of the original construction contract.
That work included rebuilding handrails at the stadium, the installation of a fire-suppression system missing from a crawl space and additional insulation of some plumbing, BBB Stadium chairman Phil Sheegl said Thursday in an interview.
The added insulation was required after a plan to build an all-weather winter dome over the playing surface was scrapped, Sheegl revealed.

Ahh, the dome.  We knew all about that way back in July, courtesy of A Person who informed anyone interested:

"...dome thing was cancelled by asper once the government money was secured....was the first thing to go....it was just a marketing ploy to make it seem like $200m investment was good for tim bits soccer."
 
"....i always believed it was a ploy to get money from the government...proving it was 'for the people' not pro athletes..."
 
"it was a big deal when announced though...pretty funny that nobody in the press asks where it went...maybe they will this winter."

Who knows, maybe now the Winnipeg Free Press will start asking how and when the vaunted dome got turfed, and why nobody told the public.

While digging deeper into the stadium debacle we may have uncovered another $7 million at least of hidden cost.

In September, 2012, Structal Heavy Steel, a sub-contractor on the project, filed a lien on the new stadium for $15.5 million.  Just under half of that ($7.4 million) was for invoices on steel work already completed under their contract and the rest ($8.1 million) for added costs due to “work scopes, circumstances, conditions and events outside of [its] contract scope, and/or not within [its] control”.

Translation: the stadium was a year behind schedule and Structal didn't want the blame.

Stuart Olson Dominion Construction Ltd., the general contractor, took out a bond for $15.5 million to be paid out in the event they eventually lost a judgement in the dispute. Structal withdrew their lien, but still wanted to get paid the $7.4 million owed to them for their sub-contract.

In February, a court ruled against Structal, saying the work invoices were part and parcel of their beef with the general contractor and covered by Stuart Olson's bond.  They would have to wait until that was straightened out to get their money.

Stuart Olson, by then, had filed a lawsuit for $15 million against Structal, complicating the matter even more.
What's that all mean?  Well, for $159,000 a year, the cost of the bond, the general contractor enjoys at least $7.4 million worth of steel work they haven't paid for. There's no doubt on either side that they owe that money, just when they'll have to pay it.  Is that $7.4 million accounted for in the current, new, cost of the stadium?

And if the two contractors iron out their differences on the other $8 million, will that be added to the cost overruns? 

There's a saying among bloggers: everybody knows something.  Here are a few snippets of street knowledge regarding the stadium posted back in February:

this post was submitted on 06 Feb 2013

PillowRage Charleswood
I overheard a conversation at work in June or July about a cause for the delays. Another engineer had been in contact with a guy from the Quebec company that is now being sued by Stuart Olson Dominion. He was in town working at the stadium for a few weeks/months. Turns out there was an issue with the Chinese bolts being used to assemble the structural steel. They were snapping heads off some of them before they could be torqued, and had a chunk of the stadium done before they decided to go back and replace all of them with bolts from a different supplier.

dj1watt
I have friends working on site. It's a structural nightmare. They are adding steel support columns over finished walls to support the roof structure. Unfortunately I'm pretty sure that's only the tip of the iceberg of problems with the design.

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