The Case: for and against the new BC Place roof
No question – BC Place was in drastic need of an upgrade. Drab would be an apt description of the stadium. BC Place was state of the art in when it opened in 1983...but so were DeLoreans and Sony Walkmans.
And Vancouverites might just be a little jealous of how Seattle tore down the Kingdome and got two beautiful stadiums as a result. So we need a new stadium? Great. Where are you going to put it?
You have to put it downtown. Downtown is the only place that makes any sense. You can’t have it in Burnaby or the near PNE – the local residents can barely stand the traffic caused by events at the PNE and Coliseum respectively. Putting the stadium out in Surrey or the Maple Ridge area kills any walk-up sales you intend on getting (which for the Lions, can be a considerable portion of the crowd) so the stadium needs to be somewhere downtown. In case you haven’t noticed, there's not a whole lot of room in downtown Vancouver anymore. If you look up you’ll see highrise buildings. Everywhere. Lots of people live there. Some of those people can even walk to BC Place to see a game.
I’ve never heard anyone complain about the location of BC Place, they just complain about the building itself. Therefore, it would make sense to keep the stadium in the same location. The major complaint is that the renovation cost too much, and we should have just built a new stadium instead of renovating a terrible building. But a new stadium would have cost twice the cost of the roof renovation.
So, you like the location, but you can’t just tear it down. So you renovate, because that’s all you can do.
If you desperately need to purchase a new car, but only have $6,000 in the bank, what do you do? You could lease a new car, you could buy a two-year-old Kia, or you could say screw it and move to Thailand for 6 months.
One thing you shouldn’t do is spend the seven grand souping up your 1979 puke brown Toyota Celica.
And that’s what the BC Place renovation is. It’s a massive expenditure, for not a lot of gain. Have you seen the roof? I’d imagine the inspiration came from someone who spent their childhood staring up at stars through power cables. Does anyone enjoy looking up into the night sky, through the bus cables on the corner of Robson and Granville?
I’m not in favour of spending $560 million of public money at the best of times, let alone in the middle of a recession, right after we’ve just spent $1.6 billion on the Olympics.
What bugs me more than anything though, is the lack of criticism. The global news narrative cites the $1 million in energy savings, failing to mention that the interest on $560 million would dwarf that by a 50-1 margin. For $560 million, we could have made transit in the downtown core free, in perpetuity. For $560 million we could have bought the Tampa Bay Rays, or the Blackburn Rovers. Or how bout this headline, ‘City purchases Canucks from Aquilinis’? Just not $560 million on a roof.