Retractable BC Place roof won't retract

The new retractable roof at B.C. Place Stadium won't be able to retract in the rain or wind (Handout)

The new $458-million retractable roof at BC Place may be the largest upgrade of its kind in the world but it comes with one big limitation -- it won’t be able to open or close in the rain or wind.

Fans enjoying a football or soccer game will be covered rain or shine, but if it starts to pour during a game, the players will be out in the rain.

Howard Crosley, the General Manager of BC Place, said the roof was always designed to be that way. The roof includes fabric folds that could tear if water pooled in its crevices. The roof also will not be able to close in winds exceeding 60 kilometres an hour.

“That’s the nature of the style of roof that was selected,” he said.

During the selection process, Crosley said they considered two main options – this retractable roof and a replacement of the existing roof.

“The other version was a replacement that would have been cheaper than what we’ve done,” he said.

Crosley didn’t specify how much cheaper exactly.

But the old roof also had limitations. Fabric tears caused by rain and wind plagued the big dome, causing constant and costly repairs.

Other stadiums such as Toronto’s Rogers Centre and Seattle’s Safeco Field have metal retractable roofs that do allow for retraction in rain and wind.

A roof similar to Safeco’s, which cost $67 million when it was built in 1999, was impossible at BC Place because the existing structure would not have supported a metal roof.

Crosley said that employees will monitor the weather and decide before each event whether to open or close the roof. He said it shouldn’t affect the BC Lions or the Whitecaps.

“When the Lions are on the road, most of the stadiums are open air. The Whitecaps have been playing in the elements for 24 years,” he said.

Crosley said the construction on the stadium, which is run by provincial government owned BC Pavillion Corporation, is on track for its estimated completion by late summer 2011.

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