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BC Place hints at improvements required to host 2026 World Cup

The list of projects at B.C. Place for the upcoming World Cup, which includes new VIP suites, improved concessions and additional elevators, could add up to millions of dollars.

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B.C. Place will need sprucing up before playing host to the 2026 FIFA Men’s World Cup and a request for bids to hire a construction manager to oversee the work offers a hint at how extensive those requirements will be.

The B.C. Pavilion Corp. (PavCo), the Crown corporation that operates the publicly owned stadium, has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to hire a consultant for the work, notwithstanding its $514 million renovation in 2011, which satisfied hosting duties for the 2015 Women’s World Cup final, among other major events.

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That manager will oversee a list of capital improvements in 2024 and 2025 to “create a premium experience for its patrons while being fiscally responsible to the taxpayers of British Columbia,” according to the RFP document.

PavCo didn’t attach a dollar figure to the cost for renovations, or the amount that taxpayers will be responsible for, in the RFP, and in response to followup questions would only say “budgets and plans are not finalized.”

No one was made available for an interview by deadline Friday, but in the written response, B.C. Place general manager Chris May said PavCo is still “working through the planning component for FIFA upgrades.”

“We are working collaboratively with FIFA and our partners to determine what the essential needs are and how best to accommodate them,” May said in the statement.

May added that they want to hire a construction manager so they can “hit the ground running” on projects that will have to be completed on short timelines.

FIFA, soccer’s international governing body, creates a detailed set of infrastructure requirements for each of its tournaments, according to its website, but has published a new framework for the standards that it expects from hosting stadiums.

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“The document is designed to be informative and supportive rather than a prescriptive set of requirements,” according to its website.

PavCo’s RFP for construction manager, however, indicates B.C. Place, which marked its 40th anniversary this year, will need more VIP suites and hospitality space on the stadium’s Level 3, an upgrade to food-court concessions, renovation of washrooms identified as Grid-line 146 and installation of more elevators.

Those projects are slated for 2024, according to the document. Also, installing more elevators to meet Accessible B.C. Act requirements. B.C. Place now only has three elevators in the 55,000-seat facility.

The list of projects for 2025 is longer and includes: renovations to food-court washrooms, a banquet room, dressing rooms and Edgewater Lounge; the addition of a merchandise store, a premium entrance, and connecting entrance between B.C. Place and the Parq Hotel and Casino.

The province, in 2022, estimated it would cost $240 million to $260 million for Vancouver to hold at least five games as a co-host of preliminary-round games during the 2026 Cup, being jointly hosted between Canada the U.S. and Mexico. At that time, there was a $40-million estimate for “venues,” without a breakdown of how much was to be spent on practice venues versus B.C. Place.

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However, one of the RFP requirements for a manager is that they have overseen at least one project worth more than $50 million within the last five years.

Tourism Minister Lana Popham was also not made available for an interview Thursday, but an unattributed written response to questions from ministry staff said the province “has not signed any contracts required by FIFA relating to organizing, staging and operating 2026 World Cup matches.”

A selling point of the North America bid for the 2026 event was that no new stadiums would have to be built because games would be played in the existing facilities in 16 host cities including B.C. Place, BMO Field in Toronto, Lumen Field in Seattle, MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles and Estadio Azteca in Mexico City.

BMO Field in Toronto faces a more dramatic facelift for the event with the addition of 17,756 new seats, raising its capacity to 45,736. A total cost hasn’t been revealed, but the City of Toronto faced criticism for directly awarding a $4.2 million contract to architectural firm Gensler Architecture & Design Inc. for work on the job.

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