B.C. Place's cable conundrum

Delay of roof-support cable installation already costing Quebec company $25 million

The late erection of roof-support cables at B.C. Place Stadium has already cost a Quebec company $25 million and the matter could end up in court.

When you talk about negotiations and lawsuits and procedures like this, we'll keep our comments to ourselves, Canam Group president Marc Dutil said in Thursday conference call with analysts. We are going to get the most we can. This is a large job, the stakes are big and if we take an extra quarter or two to fix things, it's because we think its worth more.

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PCL Constructors hired Montreal-based Canams Structal Heavy Steel Construction in 2009 on a $100 million fixed price contract to supply and install steel for the columns, compression beams, catwalks, arches and facades. Delivery and erection was originally supposed to start in early 2010 and continue until the end of the year.

The last of the 36 steel masts for the new retractable roof was not in place until Jan. 13, 2011. Installation of roof fabric planned for February was delayed to April and finally began in late June. Canam blamed delays on French cable subcontractor Freyssinet, which was challenged to attach the cables to the towers. B.C. Pavilion Corporation insists the taxpayer-owned stadium is still on target to reopen Sept. 30 and remains within the $563 million budget.

There may be components that do go over budget, but that's something that the sub-trades and the general contractor have to sort out, PavCo chairman David Podmore said in a May interview. It isn't unusual on a project as large as this and as complex as this, that some components will fall behind, others will be done earlier.

Canam reported a $45.5 million net loss for the first half of 2011, largely due to the B.C. Place cost overrun, and wont pay a second quarter dividend to shareholders.

We do not think at this point that there are any more bad news to come from B.C. Place, Marc Dutil said. There are no additional charges in (the second quarter) regarding B.C. Place, but at the end of (the first quarter) the job was not over.

Added chairman Marcel Dutil: The contractor is very happy and the owner, PavCo, too. We have completed the job at the end of June, a week to 10 days sooner than expected. (For) people in Vancouver and people passing through Vancouver, thats a nice big stadium, it will be ready in time.

B.C. Places retractable roof will be the first of its kind in North America. The technology was developed by Stuttgart, Germany-based engineering firm Schlaich Bergermann and Partner and debuted in 2005 at Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt. B.C. Place, however, required complex and costly structural reinforcement after the air-supported fabric roof was deflated and removed in May 2010.

PCL inked a $318 million fixed-price contract in November 2009. The original renovation budget, announced in January 2009, was $365 million.


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