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Temporary stadium set for PNE site

Vancouver MLS 2011 will begin life in Major League Soccer at a temporary stadium at the PNE's Empire Fields.

December 22, 2009

BC Lions and Vancouver MLS 2011 to play home games at a temporary stadium at Empire Fields during roof construction at BC Place

The Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) and BC Pavilion Corporation (PavCo) today confirmed the BC Lions will play all of their home games during the 2010 season in a temporary stadium to be built at the PNE site.

In addition, Vancouver MLS 2011 will open their inaugural season as a Major League Soccer franchise with their first few home games at the site.

BC Place will be closed from the spring of 2010 until the summer of 2011, in order to permit the construction of its new retractable roof. Temporary grandstands accommodating approximately 27,500 fans are to be erected by mid-June 2010.

PavCo, the Crown corporation which owns and operates both BC Place and the Vancouver Convention Centre, today announced Nussli has been awarded the contract to build the temporary stadium at a cost of $14 million including site preparation, with the cost to be covered by BC Place’s operational budget.

The approximate capacity of 27,500 seats will consist of approximately 7,400 bench seats, with the remaining 20,100 being individual seats. Sideline seating areas will be covered. In addition, a limited number of private boxes will be created, as well as media facilities, concessions, stadium level lighting, scoreboards, video board, and washrooms.

The PNE site selected for the temporary stadium is the old Empire Stadium site, well known as the former home of the BC Lions, before they moved to BC Place in 1983. It was also the original home of the Vancouver Whitecaps.

“We started working on a temporary stadium plan and public bid process once it became clear the closure of BC Place would be necessary for safety reasons during the roof construction.” explained David Podmore, chair of PavCo, “BC Place has always had a good working relationship with the BC Lions and Vancouver Whitecaps, and looks forward to continuing that relationship in the years ahead. We’re also excited to provide a special venue for the PNE’s 100th anniversary next year.”

“We are excited to be playing outdoors for the first time in 27 years and the stadium at Empire Fields will provide the perfect setting for Lions football in 2010,” said Lions’ vice president, business, George Chayka. “In addition to celebrating our own long and rich history of Canadian football by returning to this historic site, we are also very proud to be part of the PNE’s 100th anniversary celebration next year. I know our fans will have plenty to cheer about over the next two years, as we return to the birthplace of Lions football and then move back into Canada’s premier sports facility, BC Place, in 2011.”

“The site is where the Whitecaps kicked off their inaugural season in 1974, so it’s a unique coincidence that we’re beginning our new era in Major League Soccer here too,” said Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi. “With the final part of the construction at BC Place likely to overlap with the beginning of our 2011 MLS season, we’re making plans to play our first few home games at the temporary stadium.”

For the PNE, the temporary stadium at Empire Fields provides a new venue during its 100th anniversary.

"Today's announcement will allow the Pacific National Exhibition to utilize the temporary Empire Fields facility during arguably the most significant year in our organization's history, our centennial in 2010," says PNE president and CEO Michael McDaniel. "The return of professional football and soccer to this storied site is incredibly exciting."

About The Pacific National Exhibition

Owned by the City of Vancouver, the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) is a healthy and vibrant non-profit charity organization dedicated to providing over three million visitors a year with first-class cultural, sporting, and family entertainment events. Founded in 1910, the PNE operates from a 114-acre site at Hastings Park, a multi-facility venue in Vancouver where the organization operates four activity streams: an annual 17-day Fair, Playland Amusement Park, operations and care of the Hastings Park site, and management of the site’s year-round facilities. These facilities are utilized to celebrate a variety of hockey, amateur sporting, music, community, social, cultural, and commercial events throughout the year.

About BC Place

BC Place opened in 1983 and averages more than 200 event days a year, generating an economic impact of $60 million to the Province of British Columbia annually. With its new retractable roof to be completed in 2011, BC Place will attract an additional 41 event days per year. These additional events will increase the annual economic impact of BC Place to $100 million per year.

An icon on the Vancouver landscape, BC Place will also be the site of the opening and closing ceremonies of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

BC Place has a tradition of bringing the province's events and fans together, and over the past 26 years, has welcomed hundreds of national and international visitors such as Queen Elizabeth, David Beckham, Pope John Paul II, President Bill Clinton, the Rolling Stones, U2, and Madonna. The 55,000-seat multi-use facility is a division of PavCo (BC Pavilion Corporation), a Crown corporation reporting to the Province of British Columbia through the Hon. Kevin Krueger, Minister of Tourism, Culture and the Arts.


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While it does look nice it would be best for the Caps to own their own stadium in their preferred location.

My prediction is a grass pitch though as I think it would be easier to convert back into a recreational field afterward. I played on it recently in some heavy rain and the drainage on the pitch is quite good.

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quote:Originally posted by Tuscan

Will the temp stadium be natural grass or artificial turf? I suppose the better question is whether the Caps can still get out of the BC Place deal if this temp stadium turns out as nice as that pic makes it look.

They'll be moving BC Place's field turf to the temporary stadium, which, despite my hatred of all playing surfaces that are not natural grass, is for the best, given that the Caps will be sharing it with the Lions. Imagine playing a game of footie a couple of days after the Lions have torn it up.

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This temporary stadium will cost about the same as it did to build Saputo, won't it? I think the Parks Board needs to start considering whether it's better to revert back to two football pitches which are convertible into baseball fields in summer or to retain one of the temporary grandstands to keep a high quality, small stadium which could compete with Swangard and Town Center in Coquitlam for high-level amateur sports events (excepting track and field, for obvious reasons. I'd think that the Vancouver School Board, Notre Dame HS, VMSL, and any number of other interested parties would be contacting a few people with an eye to using a scaled down facility on the Empire site after BC Place is done.

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I wonder how durable the structure will be since it is supposedly designed for a one year life. May just not be practical to leave it in place or even a part of it. I suspect the $14 M budget also includes disassembly and removal costs, probably much of it is rented too.

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Let me clarify a couple of things:

-there is no way that the Caps will be staying full-time at this facility because the 14 million cost includes set up as well as take down

-two years from now, there will be nothing left at this site except maybe some foundations

-even if the facility is great, they would not be able to keep it because as a temporary facility, it does not meet code requirements that would be necessary of a permanent structure

-as for the turf, they are moving the current BC Place turf and installing it at Empire for 2010. This plastic stuff is awful (probably worse than what BMO was at the end of its life) and is no condition for high level soccer. The Whitecaps are currently working with Pavco to come up with another solution for 2011. I don't know how this is possible though.

-BC Place is scheduled to be ready by the end of July 2011 so the Whitecaps will have at least a handful of games at the new Empire.

-it most likely won't be called Empire stadium as naming rights are being looked at

Nussli is the company that has been hired to do the stadium. Here are some of their other projects. They have done a lot of work in Switzerland, Austria and Germany.


Here is Bob Lenarduzzi answering questions at today's press conference:

Nice stats by Marc Weber:


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Because the Whitecaps will only use the stadium for a handful of games at the start of the 2011 season, it's a shame they couldn't use the grass that's underneath. The Lions will be in BC Place by summer 2011.

Who wants to bet that Vancouver will play Seattle on the site of Old Empire to start 2011, and then they'll have Portland or Toronto for the BC Place home opener?

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^ The opening games at both Empire and BC Place are going to be huge regardless, so I would want the schedule maker to keep Seattle and Portand away from those dates. I would rather have a Kansas City or Colorado...a team that it would be difficult to get excited for otherwise.

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