BC Lions vs Edmonton Eskimos – BC Place – Sept 30, 2011
A crowd of 50000+ packed into the new and improved BC Place to witness the Lions beat the Eskimos 33-24. It seemed many arrived early to get their first glimpse of the interior of the new Lion’s Den for the first time since closing in April 2010 to undergo a $563million renovation. The building should win over the naysayers who were in favour of bulldozing the stadium and starting from scratch. Judging by the costs of other recent large scale projects the $563 seems like a good value. It seems that just the concrete shell is all that remains of the old BC Place and even then much of it has been torn away and replaced with glass. Gone is the famous air suspended, dingy domed mushroom cap, in it’s place is the new crown of suspension beams holding up a new retractable roof. The seats are permanently covered with the field of play open to the elements when the roof is open. Seeing the roof open for publicly for the first time was impressive and took no where near the advertised 20 minutes to open. Taking less than 10minutes to open up and reveal strands of lights, glittering like stars above us, hung from the support beams. [cincopa AkEA_saln6g4]
New windows surrounding the upper level seats contain LED lighting which flash orange and black for each Lions win. New, larger seats and seating configuration make the audience viewing experience more comfortable.
Even though it was dark, the natural light and air makes the whole visit more comfortable. An amazingly clear HD scoreboard screen is the second largest stadium screen in North America, after Cowboy Stadium in Texas.
While the old domed roof provided an echo amplification of the crowd noise, making it seem deafening to the opposing teams, it also made the audio sound terrible, the new roof does away with the echo so sound is much better. On opening night however, it seems that someone forgot to turn on the upper level speakers so sound wasn’t great at first, the verdict is also out until a major concert tests the acoustics of the venue.
Another one of the most noticeable features of the renovations on the concourse is the amount of glass, replacing each of the fortress-like airlock, revolving doors, new two story windows and doors greet guests and special guests as well as many new windows around the
concourse. The removal of the slow revolving doors has also sped up entering and exiting of the building so even with a large crowd the lines move quickly. The only lines that didn’t seem to move quickly were at the concession stands, fans were greeted by excessively long lines and concessions running out of some food items. However, with a very large walk-up crowd, of nearly 10000, that’s a lot of extra bodies to accommodate and this was already the largest regular season attendance in years so ‘teething pains’ were bound to happen. I’m sure by the time the Grey Cup rolls in to town in November all these glitches will be worked out.
With BC Place also being the new home of the MLS Vancouver Whitecaps, whose audiences are smaller, the stadium has an alternate seating configuration that will be unveiled with much anticipation on their first home game Sunday Oct 2nd.