'Caps unveil BC Place soccer rendering

BC Pavilion Corporation (PavCo) and Vancouver Whitecaps FC have released a preliminary rendering depicting how BC Place’s proposed new retractable roof might be configured, in order to best accommodate soccer events at the refurbished stadium. Earlier this year, the Province of British Columbia announced details of a two-phase renovation plan for BC Place. Phase one is now underway, and will be completed prior to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. The $65 million renovation plan for phase one includes improved access for persons with disabilities, and the redevelopment of all common spaces, concessions, washrooms, exterior plazas, media facilities, dressing rooms and general public areas. Phase one also includes a comprehensive refurbishment of all suites, and the establishment of a club seat area. Phase two of the renovation plan is scheduled to be completed in time for the start of the 2011 Major League Soccer (MLS) season. This phase includes the installation of a state-of-the-art retractable roof, using the same technology found at Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt, Germany - home of Eintracht Frankfurt of the German Bundesliga. A key feature of the roof design includes the installation of a centrally hung, state-of-the-art electronic scoreboard. Additional planned soccer-specific renovations, which are designed to increase the intimacy of the venue, include modular floor level hospitality areas, floor level seats (both of which will bring fans closer to the pitch), and a flexible draping system. The upper deck draping will seamlessly and effectively limit the capacity of the stadium to approximately 22,000 seats (from 59,000), and provide flexibility for end-zone draping, which can be removed to allow for future growth. The building plans also include a new synthetic FIFA-approved pitch. “All of the upgrades are to be completed by the time the Vancouver Whitecaps are ready to move into BC Place for the 2011 season,” said BC Tourism, Culture and the Arts Minister Bill Bennett. “With the open air experience the new roof will create, and the draping that will condense the stadium to a smaller venue more conducive to soccer, we are confident BC Place will not only meet MLS stadium standards, but exceed most stadiums in terms of the fan experience.” “The proposed renovations will provide a great deal of flexibility in the venue configuration, creating an intimate environment at BC Place that will be ideal for world-class soccer,” added Vancouver Whitecaps FC president Bob Lenarduzzi. “I am very excited about the prospect of watching the Whitecaps in Major League Soccer at a newly-renovated BC Place in 2011.” “We are excited that the stadium will have the only retractable roof and centrally hung scoreboard system in Major League Soccer,” said Whitecaps COO Rachel Lewis, who is the primary officer responsible for stadium development. “These are features found in some of the best sports venues in the world and will give our fans a unique North American soccer experience.” The 14-team MLS is set to add Seattle in 2009 and Philadelphia in 2010. An announcement regarding which markets will receive the next two expansion clubs is expected to take place by the end of this year or in the first quarter of 2009. The league office and the MLS expansion committee are currently reviewing the Whitecaps MLS expansion application, along with six other applications from markets in the United States and Canada. The full resolution rendering can be found here.