Vancouver’s newly renovated, soon-to-be-corporate-renamed B.C. Place reopened this weekend for games by the B.C. Lions and Vancouver Whitecaps, and initial reports were positive: With a new retractable roof, scoreboard, lounges and suites, and redone concessions concourses, the stadium is “a lot cheerier looking,” according to one longtime fan, and — inevitably — “world-class,” according to The Province newspaper.
Which it had better be, considering that the province (the province this time, not the newspaper) spent $563 million upgrading the place. That’s up from an initial estimate of $60 million, according to British Columbia assembly member Rob Fleming. Yes, retractable roofs are expensive, and there’s also some retractable seating to convert the place from football to soccer use, but it still seems a hefty price tag for a building where most of the original steel and concrete remains in place.
As for what B.C. will get for its investment, the province projects an extra $40 million a year in economic activity, which would be enough to pay off the $563 renovation cost … except that that’s only economic activity (i.e., money changing hands in the local economy), not actual tax receipts, so any benefit to taxpayers is likely to be exponentially lower. Also, economist Dennis Coates thinks even these figures are hogwash. So enjoy your fresh air, Vancouver sports fans; you’re paying for it.