Thursday, November 06, 2008

BC Place soccer renovation plans released

Worst. Headline. Ever.

Vancouver soccer fans got a sneak peak at what BC place would look like if the city is awarded a MLS team today, with the release of the stadium's reno plans.

If it was 1998, MLS would be excited by them. As it is, there was nothing announced today that makes it seem like the stadium isn't what's holding Vancouver back in the race for one of the next MLS expansion spots.

The rendering below the jump.

What's with the hanging scoreboard???


Jordie Dwyer said...

It will never, and I mean never, fly with coastal soccer fans (or the MLS for that matter).
If there was a way to make Swanguard an intimate 20,000 seat venue like TFC has, then I'd believe it would go.
This white elephant (which BC Place has been and will continue to be) is nothing more than a way to make the place relevant once the Olympics are done and it will go back to a one-use (football) facility.

kinger said...

The scoreboard looks like a giant drain stopper.

eyebleaf said...

Was BC Place originally made only for the Lions? I don't quite understand why this stadium exists. If someone knows, let me know.

dr said...

i believe there was some thought that they would try to get a baseball team.

Dennis Prouse said...

BC Place was intended to be a multipurpose building, replacing old Empire Stadium. Empire was built for the 1954 Commonwealth Games, and to eventually host the BC Lions. In addition to the Lions, BC Place was intended for trade shows, concerts, conventions, Expo '86 and, at the time, a pipe dream of a MLB franchise.

Believe it or not, BC Place is a reasonably busy building. It is owned by the provincial government, and it breaks even on operations most years. They'll never get the capital expenditure back, but even that was only $126 million - amortized over 25 years, it was reasonably cheap.

Everyone likes to whine about the Dome - it's too big, not intimate enough, no one wants to be stuck indoors on a beautiful day, yada yada yada. Still, no one can come up with an alternative, as is evidenced by the fact that the soccer-only stadium in Vancouver keeps running into roadblocks and delays. The other reality of Vancouver is that, surprise, it rains a lot, and the prospect of playing outdoors on a cold, wet spring or fall day just isn't that enticing. The same people who complain about being "stuck indoors" are the same people who won't go to the games if there is even a drop of rain in the forecast.

Bottom line - it ain't about the venue. Great teams and exciting events will sell out even the worst stadiums, while lousy events won't draw flies to even the nicest building. Frank Clair Stadium, for instance, has deteriorated badly, but that didn't seem to bother the people who went to Grey Cup '04, the Rolling Stones concert, or the FIFA WC U-20.

Duane Rollins said...

But it is about venue to MLS.

Dennis Prouse said...

Duane, I plead guilty to not being a soccer guy, but I do know that when it comes to major North American sports, MLS is a fair ways down the list. If they can afford to get that choosy about their expansion cities, God bless them. Vancouver isn't offering them a custom built pitch like BMO Field, but it's pretty good compared to some of the dumps the old NASL teams played in.

Duane Rollins said...

It's more that Montreal can offer a custom built pitch and Ottawa is promising one. Beyond that, nine of the league's 15 teams in 2010 will have Soccer Specific Stadiums, with serious talks underway to build three more.

If you believe, like I do, that the Canadian cities are competing with each other for one spot then the BC Place is a big problem

Dennis Prouse said...

Is MLS really only going to expand by one? Expansion money is manna from heaven for sports leagues, and the current owners may find the lure of it too difficult to resist. Notwithstanding the dire warnings about expanding too fast, I find myself wondering if MLS may go for a two phase expansion that puts in more teams than originally planned. Like I say, I don't know the inner workings of MLS, but I do know about the history of sports leagues.

There was a great case of this a few years ago in the QMJHL. The League caught wind of the fact that Acadie-Bathurst was planning to move to Saint John. They quickly fast tracked an expansion bid for Saint John so that the League could collect the money before the Titan owners got there.

Duane Rollins said...

Well, that's the (40) million dollar question. With seven cities that all offer something to the league I think you can bet that four of them will find there way into MLS sooner rather than later. The league has long said it would cap at 20m, but it's backing off on that hard number now. You hear 24 being bounced around by some...

The problem is finding players with the quota restrictions the way they are now--especially with the Canadian teams.

I do think the BC Place plan is workable, but it's clearly not the best stadium option among the bidding cities. So, if MLS is to be taken at its word of two team for 2011, then I think Vancouver is in trouble based on this plan.