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New Canadian stadiums

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First look at Olympic hub around McMahon Stadium revealed
Concourse of 1960s football venue would be transformed with accessibility front of mind, says Calgary 2026
Drew Anderson CBC News Nov 9, 2018

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This rendering shows what McMahon Stadium could look like for the Olympics in 2026. (Calgary 2026)

Calgary 2026 unveiled the first glimpse of what a refurbished McMahon Stadium, new fieldhouse and new mid-size arena could look like if the city hosts the Winter Games.

Fergal Duff, the director of venues, villages and capital infrastructure for the bid corporation, says the primary focus when refurbishing old venues is accessibility.

"One of the things that we'll be doing … is taking out a lot of the structures that are in between the columns in the concourse area. That will double the circulation area," Duff said regarding McMahon Stadium.

The plan also includes redoing the washrooms, making seating more accessible for those with disabilities and revamping the concessions.

'Significant' impact

Dave Legg, the chair of the department of health and physical education at Mount Royal University, says those kinds of changes make a big difference.

"And while those may not have huge, dramatic economic benefits that are easily quantifiable at the specific moment, I would suggest that they have significant and very meaningful and important changes to our society that would allow persons with a disability to sit amongst all of the spectators and not be secluded and segregated in one specific area," he said.

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The crowded concourse of McMahon Stadium could be opened up for the 2026 Winter Games. (Calgary 2026)

Drawings released by Calgary 2026 show the area around McMahon, the new fieldhouse and the new arena as a bustling Olympic centre, with room for outdoor festivities.

The fieldhouse would have a temporary ice sheet during the Games to host figure skating, short-track speed skating and wheelchair curling during the Paralympics. It would then house a 400-metre track, courts and pitches.

Almost $1B for venues

The organization will also refurbish the Saddledome — unless a new arena deal is struck between the city and the Flames organization — the Olympic Oval, the BMO Centre and Big 4 Centre, WinSport facilities, Nakiska, the Canmore Nordic Centre and Whistler, B.C., where ski jumping and combines nordic events would take place.

The total budget for venues sits at $403 million for new venues and $502 for refurbishing old ones.  

Duff said they're still working through the details with the organizations that own and run the existing venues and haven't finalized any deals.

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A rendering shows what McMahon Stadium, a new fieldhouse and a new mid-size arena could look like in 2026. (Calgary 2026)

"Right now, we're still negotiating with our venues on the exact costs," he said. "We've been working with McMahon stadium management on the different aspects of what that might be."

The budget for McMahon is over $80 million, according to Duff.

Investments in Canmore, Whistler

Details are also being worked out for other venues, but Duff anticipates some construction could start in 2019 if Calgary pursues the bid and the city is chosen to host the Games.

He said there would be investments in Whistler that would include "technical aspects" of the ski jump as well as some "base-area development, some snow-making equipment, things of that nature."

And in Canmore, he said, they've been working closely with the town on the construction of 240 affordable housing units that would act as the Canmore athletes village during the Games.

When asked for a dollar figure on the fixes in Canmore, Duff demurred.

"I'm not going to go into the specific details of the budgets for each individual venue," he said.

The venue for curling is still not known, but Duff said there are "at least four good options" the organization is pursuing.

Calgarians will vote on whether they support an Olympic bid in a non-binding plebiscite on Nov. 13.

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Edmonton Eskimos donate to purchase temporary dome for Commonwealth Stadium
Terry Jones Edmonton Journal November 16, 2018

A winter dome for the home of the Eskimos is one significant step closer to becoming the legacy of Edmonton playing host to the 106th Grey Cup.

The legacy of the already guaranteed-to-be-sensationally-successful Grey Cup, your correspondent has learned, will be $500,000 toward the purchase of a temporary dome to erect over the playing surface of Commonwealth Stadium annually during winter months.

Identified as a possible legacy project to your agent by Grey Cup Co-Chairmen Brad Sparrow and Len Rhodes back when the massive plans and entertainment line-up for ticketed events to the Grey Cup Festival was announced in September, the project has now received a ‘Go’ from the board of governors of the community-owned organization.

“We are now prepared to make a $500,000 contribution, as part of the Grey Cup legacy donation, toward a stadium dome,” revealed Rhodes, the Eskimos President and CEO. “The final dome approval is now dependent on a series of steps and budget approval processes that are in the hands of the City of Edmonton at the moment, but we are hopeful that everything will be approved.”

It is the history of major Edmonton sports events that there be a significant legacy involved. It’s also part of the reason why Edmonton has earned the reputation as the world capital of volunteerism. The legacy projects are the payoff to the volunteers, the citizens who buy the tickets and the companies that get involved in sponsorships.

Commonwealth Stadium, itself, came into being as a result of the 1978 Commonwealth Games and was expanded from 43,346 seats as a legacy from the 1983 FISU World Universiade Games and drew Grey Cup crowds of 60,081 in 1984, 60,431 in 1997, 62,531 in 2002 and 63,317 in 2010.

Visitors to all those Grey Cups have witnessed Commonwealth Stadium transform to include spacious concession and hosting areas on both sides of the stadium, game day suites, a large field house, massive community recreation centre, three floors of Eskimos offices and a game day hosting deck overlooking the field, the state of the art team dressing room that will be occupied by either the Calgary Stampeders or Winnipeg Blue Bombers next week and the new visiting dressing room where either the Ottawa RedBlacks or Hamilton Tiger-Cats will reside.

Visiting Grey Cup fans, for the first time, will sit in the new wider green and gold colored seats that have resulted in a reduced capacity of 55,819 in the facility that remains as the largest open-air stadium in Canada. The new configuration first came into play for the opening game and largest number of games, at 11, involved in the Canada 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The seats are the legacy of that event while the other enhancements resulted from playing host to events such as the 2002 FIFA Women’s U-19 World Championship, 2001 World Track & Field Championships as well as the previous four Grey Cups.

“Yes, we believe in the importance of a Grey Cup legacy project. We have earmarked $500,000 for the legacy project as a financial contribution to the project estimated to cost $2.5 to $3 million,” said Rhodes.

“The benefit would be to allow amateur football and other amateur sports access to a facility during the winter months. Equipping the stadium for winter use will maximize use of the facility during the entire 12-month calendar and provide the community with added recreation space.

“And in terms of legacy, there would be another benefit. It would help our chances of being awarded hosting rights to a future Mark’s CFL Week, something we want dearly for our city,” he said of the relatively new off-season event that brings 60 CFL stars to a city for a TSN video shoot, fan festival, Spirit of Edmonton-style party event and media “car wash” interviewing sessions with player interactions with fans throughout the week. It concludes with the CFL Combine player testing of draft eligible players for which the dome over the field would be perfect.

“City administration will submit this proposal in their upcoming budgeting process. They really appreciated our pledge to provide meaningful financial support. The timing for knowing if there is project approval is anticipated to come after the Grey Cup.

“The field dome is our first choice as a legacy project, so we will wait for the city’s approval process to unfold according to their timelines. The City of Edmonton has been a wonderful partner all year long and we could not have hosted the Grey Cup without their support for the downtown festival and the game itself. A field dome would be our icing on the cake.”

CONTRIBUTION MADE UP OF 50/50 FUND

A significant part of the Eskimos $500,000 contribution toward a dome for the Brick Field at Commonwealth Stadium would come from two Grey Cup 50-50 activations.

The first will involve an old-time 50-50 featuring 50,000 printed numbered tickets for sale at $10 each with a guaranteed minimum payout of $100,000 and a maximum of $250,000.

Those tickets will be sold Thursday, Friday and Saturday at two fixed locations on the downtown festival site. The winner will be announced when the tickets are sold out or at the end of the day Saturday.
The other 50-50 at the game will be the automated sale as is normal at all regular season Eskimos games.

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New proposal would replace McMahon Stadium with indoor field house, arena
Eva Ferguson The Calgary Herald January 29, 2019

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An ambitious plan to replace McMahon Stadium with a new field house and adjoining practice facility was put before city councillors behind closed doors Monday, with former mayoral candidate Bill Smith behind the push.

The McMahon District Development — Calgary Rising is proposing the project as a collaboration between PBA Land and Development, the University of Calgary and the City, with the hopes of collecting up to $67 million in property taxes annually.

“There’s a great opportunity here to combine two pieces of land and create a development in conjunction with the city and the university . . . with a goal to have this pay for itself through tax revenue,” said Smith, a Calgary lawyer and former president of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party who ran against Mayor Naheed Nenshi in the 2017 municipal election.

“We have several strategies in place to get support and funding from the private sector, but we want to be sure we have support first,” Smith said.

The proposal aims to “change the face of northwest Calgary” on a 100-acre property bordered by Crowchild Trail, 24th Avenue, 16th Avenue and University Drive N.W.

The new indoor stadium would be situated on the northeast corner of the site, close to where the Foothills baseball stadium is now, with a connected practice field/facility to the north. The new facility would also provide indoor competitive track and field facilities and a new home for both the Calgary Stampeders and U of C Dinos football clubs.

The proposal also envisions two new hockey arenas, including one with 6,500 seats at the centre of the site, competitive aquatic facilities in the northwest corner closer to the university’s entrance and several retail and residential buildings on the site’s north and south edges.

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Patricia Phillips, CEO with PBA Land, said the project’s retail and entertainment district is inspired by PBA’s Calgary Rising luxury hotel development called The Dorian, which officially announced construction this summer touting a $100-million boost to the local economy.

“This project will allow us to access 100 acres of land, and do something worthwhile,” Phillips said. “So, it’s no longer a cost burden to the public, it’s revenue generating.”

Phillips explained the project’s proximity to the Foothills Medical Centre, the Children’s Hospital, SAIT and the University of Calgary also provides an opportunity for further collaboration among those institutions.

“A project of this nature and magnitude has the ability to attract private sector investment and decrease the amount of capital required by the public sector,” she said.

Coun. George Chahal said he is open to a proposal for a new field house, something he says the city has needed for years, but he wants to be careful about how it’s funded.

“The field house is an extremely important project for all Calgarians. It’s the one project that provides benefits to all Calgarians and enhances opportunities for sport,” Chahal said after a closed-door session where council examined a number of major infrastructure proposals.

“But we have to see what is the vision, and how does it become a catalyst of a future development in that community.

“All the projects have different funding challenges and constraints. We’re in tough economic times right now. We have to make tough decisions and we have to be fiscally prudent,” he said.

The McMahon District proposal touts a new vision that “could also welcome new activities and teams to Calgary as the face of sport continues to change with our demographics.”

According to the pitch, “the lands are currently under-utilized and can be turned into a solid revenue producer for the City and the University through appropriate development. Preliminary estimates show tax revenue from the lands once developed will pay for recreational facilities within 15-20 years.

“This investment for acutely needed recreational facilities has a clear payback horizon,” the plan says.

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Schooners plan enters ‘critical’ stretch
Dave Naylor tsn.ca February 4 2019

The group hoping to establish a 10th CFL franchise in Atlantic Canada expects to know whether or not its vision will become a reality by late spring.
 
“These next three or four months are critical,” said Anthony LeBlanc, one of Maritime Football Ltd.’s three principles. “We will have a go or no-go by the mid-point of this year, which is about two years since we first started meeting about this project.”
 
Although there has been little in the way of news from the CFL’s eastern exploration of late, things continue to evolve behind the scenes.
 
The group is working closely with the municipality to refine a deal that is expected to go before regional council for debate and a vote in the late spring.
 
“We have finalized what the approach is going to be and are working with administration to put together a package that can be reviewed,” said LeBlanc.
 
That approach is expected to position the stadium as a year-round community asset (it will be domed in winter), with strong involvement from Sport Nova Scotia to expand the focus beyond 10 CFL dates per year.
 
One significant refinement since the group presented its vision to council late last fall concerns the stadium project, which has been scaled back from a facility expected to cost in the $180 million range to one targeted at $130 million.
 
That means a simpler design, less along the lines of the CFL’s Cadillac stadiums in Regina or Winnipeg and more along the lines of the original construction of BMO Field in Toronto.
 
The change was in response to a suggestion from Halifax mayor Mike Savage who promoted the idea of a facility that could be expanded or enhanced years down the road.
 
As for the stadium’s proposed Shannon Park location in Dartmouth, LeBlanc said negotiations are ongoing.
 
“We are in continued discussions with Canada Lands over Shannon Park but there has been no formalized agreement yet,” said LeBlanc.
 
The first CFL game played in Atlantic Canada since 2013 is scheduled for Aug. 25 when the Toronto Argonauts “host” the Montreal Alouettes. The location of that game is yet to be determined, but it won’t be in Halifax due to the lack of a suitable facility.
 
Saint John or Moncton (N.B.) and Antigonish (N.S.) all remain possibilities with a decision expected by mid-February.
 
In January, it was reported that Eric Tillman was leaving his post as general manager of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and was expected to be hired as the Atlantic Schooners’ top football executive.
 
LeBlanc said the group has decided to delay any football hiring until after the resolution of the stadium project.

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Olympic Stadium roof replacement delayed until 2024
Officials looking into possibility of installing retractable roof — this time, one that lasts
CBC News February 06 2019

The completion date for the Olympic Stadium's planned $250-million roof replacement is being pushed back a year, officials say, to make sure they get it right this time.

"The first two roofs did not work," Maurice Landry, in charge of construction and maintenance for the Régie des installations olympiques (RIO), told Radio-Canada.

"This one must work."

In 2017, the Quebec government approved the quarter-billion dollar budget for a new roof, to be installed by 2023 — leaving Montreal with time to spare before the city plays host to some of the 2026 World Cup matches.

"Obviously, we will try to respect the budget and the schedule," said Landry. However, he said, the focus must be on quality.

Big O's history of roof woes

The stadium that's dominated the skyline of Montreal's east end for more than 40 years had no roof when the 1976 Olympics were held — the tower meant to hold it up wasn't finished.

The Kevlar roof, designed to be retractable, wasn't installed until 1987, and it ripped so often, that by 1992 — a year after a windstorm left a gaping 30-metre-by-15-metre hole in it — a decision was made to keep the roof closed at all times.

That roof was removed for good in 1998, making the stadium an open-air venue for several months, before it was replaced by a non-retractable, opaque roof later that year.

The second roof proved no less vulnerable to damage — ripping 7,453 times in the decade between 2007 and 2017.

Keeping Roger Taillibert's design intact

The possibility of making the third roof retractable once again is under study, Landry said.

Exposing the field to sunlight would allow real grass to grow there under optimal conditions.

"Our specialists are seriously looking into this solution to see if it is technically feasible, and at what cost we can do it," said Landry. Staying on budget is critical, however, he said.

Gerkan, Marg and Partners (GMP), a German company that specializes in constructing stadiums, has been working with RIO officials to figure out the best solution. GMP is behind several major stadium projects around the world, including BC Place in Vancouver.

The aim is have a plan ready to be able to put out a call for tenders in 2020.

Whatever the final plan, it cannot detract from French architect Roger Taillibert's original design, the minister responsible for the RIO, Caroline Proulx, told Radio-Canada.

Changing it would be ''as if you went to touch up the Eiffel Tower, but then took part of it away,'' Proulx said.

''We have to keep Mr. Taillebert's design, absolutely. It's his signature.''

Proulx said the goal is also to make sure the stadium can be used year-round. Right now, it must be closed for security reasons anytime more than three centimetres of snow accumulates on the roof.

Being able to keep it open all the time would be a ''game changer,'' said the borough mayor of Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Pierre Lessard-Blais.

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Atlantic Schooners group unveils stadium design
Drew Edwards 3downnation.ca March 30, 2019

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The group trying to bring a CFL franchise to Halifax provided the first look at a possible stadium design on Saturday.

Anthony LeBlanc, a founding partner of Schooners Sports and Entertainment (SSE), says the group has shifted to a community-oriented model that would feature a permanent 12,000 seat facility that would be expandable for CFL games.

LeBlanc says the group has signed an agreement with Canada Lands to explore the development of the Shannon Park site. They’ve also partnered with Sport Nova Scotia, a non-profit organization that supports amateur sport.

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Atlantic Schooners group unveils stadium design
Drew Edwards 3downnation.ca March 30, 2019

It’s not an about-face but it’s certainly a significant shift.

The group trying to bring a CFL franchise to Halifax provided the first look at a possible stadium design on Saturday while also unveiling a dramatic change in their approach to securing government money as they try and get a facility built.

Anthony LeBlanc, a founding partner of Schooners Sports and Entertainment (SSE), says the group has shifted to a community-oriented model that would feature a permanent 12,000 seat facility that would be expandable for CFL games.

“We’re finally getting to the point to getting a building that makes sense but it ties into the vision that we’re talking about. The first thing they’ll say is that a community stadium doesn’t have to have the amount of seats that a CFL team may need and we agree,” LeBlanc said Saturday at an event in Halifax hosted by the CFL. “From a community perspective, what is needed is a fixed facility that will house roughly 12,000 permanent seats so this structure is what we’re talking to our friends and partners at the municipal, provincial and federal level.”

LeBlanc says his group at SSE would then be responsible for paying for the construction of an additional 10,000 seats, along with 4,000 temporary seats, for a total of 26,000.

“That brings the capacity of the stadium up to the level that would be acceptable for CFL events and that’s what we’re responsible for, Schooner Sports and Entertainment,” LeBlanc said.

SSE has entered into a partnership with Sport Nova Scotia, a non-profit organization whose membership is made up of over 50 provincial sport organizations. CEO Jamie Ferguson says his group is firmly behind the new vision, which could provide a facility that would be available to community groups 300 days a year.

“We are going to be able to program this facility for all of the days that the CFL team is not using it or there aren’t other large events. We are looking at upwards of 300 days a year that our provincial sport organizations are going to be able to use this facility a drastically reduced cost. That’s a big deal for us,” Ferguson said. “We think it’s a model that can be used for pro sports franchises and an amateur sports organizations all over the world that can help provide more opportunities for our kids to get the benefits of sports.”

LeBlanc says the group has signed an agreement with federally-owned Canada Lands to explore the development of the Shannon Park site, which had previously been identified as the preferred site for a stadium. A delay in reaching that agreement has slowed the progress of the project, including a planned update to the Halifax regional council.

“They still haven’t received that proposal because it took a lot longer then we anticipated to get to the point where we are now with Canada Lands,” LeBlanc said. “It will allow us to do that last piece of work HRM and the province have been waiting on to do the full analysis.”

LeBlanc says the change in approach came after Halifax mayor Mike Savage raised concerned about the scope and cost of the project and suggested a phased approach. While LeBlanc didn’t provide any numbers on Sunday, it has previously been reported the cost of the project has dropped from $190 million to approximately $130 million and that the SSE partners had about $60 million of their own money to commit to the project.

“We want to make sure that anything that is done that is involving any level of government is done in a wise, frugal manner and we have really listened to what we have heard,” LeBlanc said. “We have shifted and we’ve turn this conversation into what the community wants from a community stadium.”

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