After BC Place Renovations, Only Name Stays the Same

For BC Place in Vancouver, its mission didn’t end at hosting the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

After fulfilling its role as Olympic Stadium in February 2010, the building was shuttered for massive renovations that April. Less than a year and a half later, the 28-year-old venue on the north side of False Creek has been transformed into a nearly unrecognizable, state-of-the-art stadium for the CFL’s BC Lions and Major League Soccer’s newest member, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

On Sept. 30, the Lions returned to BC Place from their temporary home at Empire Field in Hastings Park, defeating the Edmonton Eskimos 33-24 in front of more than 40,000 fans. The revitalized BC Place, constructed over the building’s original concrete structure, will host the 99th CFL Grey Cup next month.

For BC’s Largest Venue, Canada’s Biggest Video Board
BC Place, the largest stadium in British Columbia and third-largest permanent venue in Canada (behind Olympic Stadium in Montreal and Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, AB), boasts the largest cable-supported retractable roof in the world. When fully retracted, it provides an opening of more than 90,000 square ft., spanning the length of the field. The air-supported roof has been replaced by 36 roof support masts, resembling a crown on the Vancouver skyline.

Not wanting to sacrifice the guest experience for design aesthetics, BC Pavilion Corp. (PavCo), which owns and manages the building, approached Anthony James Partners to design a scoreboard that could be suspended above the middle of the field.

“There were some design requirements [related to weight] that had to be adhered to, so it was [a balance],” explains Fred Gray, director of construction services, Anthony James Partners. “[You need] the right-size screens, but you also need to keep the weight of the overall center-hung scoreboard down because the cable-suspended roof was only designed to take a certain amount of weight.”

Despite the restrictions posed by the roof’s unique structure, Anthony James Partners constructed the second-largest center-hung video board in North America.

The 100,000-lb., four-sided, cable-suspended structure is second only to the mammoth creation in Cowboys Stadium and boasts four HD, surface-mount 16-mm LED screens provided by Lighthouse Technologies. Two sideline displays measure approximately 68 x 38 ft., and end-zone displays measure 33 x 21 ft. Loudspeaker arrays are mounted both above and on the video board, as well as under the balconies.

Lions, Whitecaps Make BC Place Theirs
Supplementing the center-hung scoreboard, which is operated from a video control room located on the building’s third floor near the west end zone, are 360-degree fascia and 20-mm LED sideline displays.

Both the Lions and Whitecaps plan to make full use of the video boards located around BC Place, with slight differences in approach. The Lions will display score and time on the ribbon board, located at the base of the roof, and raise the sideline LED displays off the field.

The Whitecaps have opted to superimpose score and time on the center-hung video board.

“For the Whitecaps, the pitch-side [LED displays are] lined up on one entire sideline,” says Gray. “For a Lions game, they do two sideline sections and set [the displays] up a little higher for TV shots over the crowd.”

Graphics and digital signage will be fed to the video boards and fascia from a small control room located next to the video-control room.

Three video screens, provided by Mitsubishi Electric, are mounted on the exterior of the building, and 1,150 digital screens are placed throughout the interior. More than 300 miles of fiber-optic cable has been installed, and 800 WiFi points support ticket scanners, concession registers, and fans’ mobile devices.

The $563 million (CAD) renovation is complete, but, with plans for a 680,000-square-ft. entertainment complex proposed for neighboring land, including two hotels and a casino, it’s only the beginning.