It's a new fan experience at BC Place


Jenn Maniezzo

Removing the fans that inflated the roof is one way to change BC Place's fan experience – $563 million worth of renovations is another. More than just a roof upgrade, BC Place is a completely new and Power Smart facility.

Leaning on the expertise of Power Smart engineers Nikolay Smirnov and Vince Hanada, roof and lighting upgrades will generate an expected 4.6 GWh of annual savings for the downtown Vancouver facility.

Key to making the upgrades affordable are two Power Smart programs, the Product Incentive Program – which offers savings on energy-efficient products – and the New Construction Program. BC Place director of construction Brian Griffin has been working side-by-side with Power Smart key account manager George Crowhurst on the project since 2008.

"Originally, we started with interior upgrades, updating the lighting because we recognized it was inefficient," said Griffin. "The task appeared incredibly complicated and it was almost like you wanted to say, 'it's just not worth it.'

"The BC Hydro team did so much to help us through the process. It was seamless, and given the number of people that we had involved, that's unbelievable."

Killing the shadows, efficiently

Upgrades to field of play lighting make it the first of its kind in North America. Shadows and glare from overhead lights have been eliminated, corners are illuminated and 40 per cent less energy is being used.

Seven different lighting settings are available, depending on the type of event in the venue.

The original exterior lighting was also inefficient and left dark corners. Working with Crowhurst, Griffin was able to install hockey-stick-style LED fixtures, which not only use less power and provide more light, but also make the building safer and look more modern.

"Power Smart saved us a lot of money that we were then able to allocate to other areas of the stadium upgrade," said Griffin.

BC Place bubble windows

Celebrating with light

Perhaps the most interesting use of LEDs is with the Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), which looks like a thick plastic, surrounding the roof base. Each ETFE bubble has a four-foot LED fixture, which will shine light over the fabric to create light displays across the band and across the entirety of the new roof.

"So when the Whitecaps score we can have a blue wave roll around the building, or orange for the Lions. We can also do graphic displays such as a ball bearing that spins around the interior of the stadium as the crowd cheers, and then explodes across the whole roof when applause hits a certain threshold," explained Brian.

BC Place concourse lightingBring on the natural light

Other Power Smart additions include the replacement of 3,900 panels of bronze-tint glass on the exterior of the stadium, allowing natural light to enter the facility and reducing the dependence on electric light. These new windows will allow passersby to actually see any activity occurring inside the facility.

"We wanted to change the fan experience, and in the end it all came together. We're really excited about welcoming guests back into this completely new facility," said Brian.

New roof, new field, new sound, new lights and more

  • New retractable roof opens or closes in about 20 minutes
  • Fixed roof protects visitors from the elements no matter what the weather conditions
  • Permanent Polytan LigaTurf 240 RS+ all-weather turf; will be covered with a custom floor cover for concerts, exhibitions, shows and other special events
  • Louvers at lower edge of roof may be opened or closed to increase air circulation
  • Improved interior temperature control allows year-round comfort for a wider variety of events
  • New brighter lighting system provides illumination required by HD television broadcasts and is 40% more efficient than the old lighting system
  • New state-of-the-art sound system features loudspeaker arrays mounted from above, on video board display and under the balconies
  • Sound-absorbing panels near roofline, and new open-air roof configuration reduces sound reflection
  • 500 kilometres of fibre optic cable installed throughout the stadium
  • 1,150 new digital screens throughout the building
  • Three massive video screens on the exterior of the building
  • 800 WiFi points throughout the stadium for wireless devices such as ticket scanners, concession stands registers, and fans' wireless devices
  • 36-foot transparent "façade" just above the lower roofline allows sound to partially pass through, and allows visitors to see outward
  • Façade material (ETFE) also contains metal dots called "frits" to reflect light and create colour animations for events (same material used on Water Cube during 2008 Olympics in Beijing)
  • New ribbon graphics board surrounds ring beam at base of roof
  • 800 lights adorn the outdoor cable system supporting the roof
  • Additional flexible soccer curtain system between the lower and upper tiers of the stadium will reduce the capacity of BC Place to approximately 22,000 seats for Vancouver Whitecaps FC and create a more intimate atmosphere for soccer
  • New clear glazing replaces the stadium's old brown glass to improve outer appearance and allow a brighter more natural environment for guests in ramps and concourses
  • New seats are approximately 22 inches wide, come in four colours, and are wider than the previous seats which measured 18 to 19 inches in width. Each seat now comes with its own cupholder. Premium club seats have cushions, and sideline seats are padded for comfort
  • New retractable seating at lower levels of seating will bring fans closer to the field action than ever before
  • All the old blue seats have been removed and recycled and revolving doors have been replaced with large welcoming entrances that will allow quicker and easier access for all

New Four-Sided Electronic Video Scoreboard System

  • All-new centre hung video board – 100,000 pound unit may be raised or lowered depending on event or game requirements
  • Two largest sideline HD video screens measure 68 by 38 feet each, second largest centre hung screens in North America (behind Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, TX)
  • 450 – the number of 42 inch flat screen TV's it would take to cover the same area of each large screen (or the approximate floor area of four average Vancouver apartments)