No new stadium roof for 2010 Winter Games

Fri May 16, 2008 6:52pm EDT
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By Allan Dowd

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - The stadium that will hold the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Olympics is adequate for the job -- despite plans to replace its aging roof shortly after the Games are over, officials said on Friday.

The provincial government unveiled plans to replace the fabric cover on BC Place Stadium in Vancouver with a retractable roof, but said it was unrealistic to try to complete the project in time for the Olympics.

"That would be rushing it," said David Podmore, chairman of the provincial corporation that owns the facility -- saying the goal is to have the project completed by early 2011.

"As far as for 2010, we are completely satisfied that this existing system and the building will function very very well," Podmore told an announcement ceremony at BC Place.

When Vancouver was awarded the 2010 Games by the International Olympic Committee in 2003, the Western Canadian city had to overcome concerns about being the first Winter Olympics host to hold opening and closing ceremonies indoors.

The mountains around Vancouver receive heavy snow in the winter, but the moisture almost always falls as rain in the sea-level city, making it preferable to hold the major ceremonies under cover.

Officials began looking at replacing the air-supported roof after a January 2007 storm caused it to collapse like an imploding souffle into the 60,000-seat facility. It took crews about two weeks to re-inflate the fabric.

Premier Gordon Campbell defended keeping the current roof through the Games, saying related work to upgrade the inside of the stadium will be completed before then.   Continued...