VANCOUVER — The B.C. Pavilion Corporation and the Pacific National Exhibition are expected to jointly confirm Tuesday the old Empire Stadium site on the PNE grounds will be the location of a 30,000 to 32,000-seat temporary stadium to house the B.C. Lions and Vancouver Whitecaps.
The temporary stadium is necessary due to the closing of BC Place Stadium while renovations take place between the end of the 2010 Olympics and the summer of 2011. The renovations — with an announced budget of $458 million — will include a retractable roof.
The price tag for the temporary stadium on the PNE grounds — speculated at approximately $20 million — is included in the $458-million overall renovation price tag.
The Lions will be tenants of the temporary stadium for the 2010 CFL season and possibly for a portion of their games in 2011.
The Whitecaps will continue to call Swangard Stadium home for the 2010 season, but could play the first part of their 2011 schedule at the PNE facility. The Whitecaps are scheduled to join Major League Soccer for the 2011 campaign, which begins in mid-March.
“It’s very good news,” said Lions’ director of communications Jamie Cartmell. “We expect our existing season ticket holders will have seats in locations very close to where they have been sitting at BC Place. We feel our fans will be pleased with what (the B.C. Pavilion Corporation) has been able to arrange.”
There is a strong nostalgia component for both teams in the choice of the old Empire Stadium site. The Lions played at that spot from the team’s debut in the CFL in 1954 until 1983 when the club moved to BC Place. The Whitecaps enjoyed some of their glory years at Empire during the 1979 and ’80 seasons as members of the North American Soccer League.