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HomeBusinessWorld Cup to trigger biggest BC Place renovations since 2011 

World Cup to trigger biggest BC Place renovations since 2011 

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Bob Mackin

B.C. Place Stadium will undergo millions of dollars in renovations to get ready for the FIFA World Cup in 2026, beyond the instalment of a temporary grass pitch.

At least five matches are expected in the early rounds of the 48-nation tournament, co-hosted by 16 cities in Canada, U.S. and Mexico. The work will be the biggest since the 2011-completed, $514 million project that included a retractable roof.

A CSA contractor’s rendering of a 2026 World Cup live site outside B.C. Place Stadium (BaAM Productions/City of Vancouver)

B.C. Pavilion Corp. (PavCo) published a request for proposals on Dec. 5, seeking a construction manager for a three-year contract, plus a one-year option, beginning in February. Deadline for submissions is Jan. 15. 

“PavCo anticipates that the contractor will provide a scale range of expected fees as a percentage of the construction value of all projects undertaken,” said the posting. “The contractor will also provide a table of available personnel and rates for all pre-construction services and advanced construction manager requirements.” 

Stadium general manager Chris May said in a prepared statement that schedules and budgets are in flux.

“With FIFA World Cup 2026 less than three years away we recognize that construction timelines will be expedited, and it’s important that we prepare for the work so once budgets and deliverables are finalized we can hit the ground running,” May said. 

PavCo hasn’t released cost estimates, but the request for proposals offers some hints. 

Applicants must have completed assignments as a construction manager on at least one project worth $50 million or more within the last 10 years and at least three worth $10 million or more within the last 10 years. Their experience must also include work on a public, multi-use assembly or hospitality-based space. 

The request for proposals includes a list of a dozen B.C. Place projects over the next two years, including new suites on level three, hospitality space and a food court upgrade; renovations to washrooms, banquet rooms, the main press box and Edgewater Lounge; and building of a merchandise store, premium entrance and connector to the Parq hotel/casino complex. 

PavCo said the listed upgrades are either required by FIFA or necessary under the Accessible British Columbia Act, but did not specify. The $50 million minimum mentioned in the request for proposals is intended to narrow the candidate pool “and is not reflective of any projected financial figures.”  

Last February, Glacier reported that PavCo was planning to expand the 50 furnished and catered private suites on level three. It originally proposed relocating the entire B.C. Sports Hall of Fame and Museum, but narrowed its sights on the back-of-house, archival storage area. 

Inside a B.C. Place Pacific Rim suite (PavCo)

When FIFA chose Vancouver as a host city in June 2022, the provincial government said the cost to taxpayers would be $240 million to $260 million. But, last January, it revealed that Vancouver city hall was responsible for $230 million in costs and would use a new 2.5-per-cent civic accommodation tax to pay the bill by 2030. The province did not disclose how much it planned on spending.

Freedom of information officials at Vancouver city hall and the provincial government are withholding their proposal to FIFA and the contract with FIFA. An adjudicator from the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner is expected to hold a written inquiry in 2024. 

In August, Seattle city council released its agreement with FIFA to use Lumen Field, which is almost 20 years younger than B.C. Place and contains more modern facilities and amenities. 

The stadium-use contract for the home of the Seahawks and Sounders is officially between the U.S. Soccer Federation and First and Goal Inc., the Washington Public Stadium Authority’s private leaseholder. It gives FIFA full control of what goes on inside and outside the building from 30 days before the first match to seven days after the last. 

The Seattle contract contains a deadline of mid-2025 for any construction and renovations, to be paid by the stadium. Lumen Field’s to-do list includes lighting and heating/ventilating/air conditioning upgrades, improvements to concession stands, removal of rows containing a total 800 seats in the corners of the lower tier to accommodate a bigger, temporary natural grass pitch over the existing artificial turf. It cannot be known as Lumen Field or any other sponsor name during the tournament period. 

B.C. was not included in the successful three-nation bid to FIFA in 2018. Then-Premier John Horgan changed his mind in 2021 when Montreal dropped out due to rising costs. 

When it announced the accommodation tax, the province said Vancouver city hall was planning to spend $73 million for security and safety, $40 million for venues, $20 million for the FIFA Fan Festival, $15 million for a host city office, administration and volunteer service, $14 million for traffic and stadium zone management, $8 million for decoration and brand protection, and $8 million for insurance. The budget includes a $52 million contingency. 

The 10,000-seat PNE Amphitheatre is expected to host the Fan Festival when it opens in 2026. In July, city council approved a budget increase from $64.8 million to $103.7 million.  

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