The $514 million renovation of Vancouver's BC Place stadium, home to the BC Lions and Vancouver Whitecaps as well as the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics, was more than 400 percent over budget, a Vancouver business paper is reporting.
The centerpiece of the stadium overhaul was replacing the shabby roof that in 2007 split during a storm and deflated. The new roof is deluxe, no doubt. But half a billion dollars for upgrades to an existing facility, especially when the main outcome is just a new hat on the bowl, is ripoff territory.
Turns out no one thought they were signing on for that much fliff. Business in Vancouver has the story of a confidential letter the head of B.C. Pavilion Corp. sent in 2008 to the city manager quoting a much lower price:
"In order for BC Place to remain over the long term, major improvements and upgrading are necessary," wrote PavCo's then-chairman David Podmore in a confidential January 2008 letter to Vancouver's city manager Judy Rogers. "The scope of the rehabilitation project is in the order of $100 million, which includes replacement of the roof."
The government's first publicized budget for the project was $365 million, announced in January 2009. In August 2012, the government announced that the final price of the taxpayer-funded project was $514 million.
There's a big difference between that $100 million figure, quoted in January of 2008, and the $253 million the company's internal documents showed just three months later. And there's a big difference between that figure and the $365 million forecast in a January 2009 capital project plan. Oh, and another big difference between a third of a billion dollars and the final half-billion-dollar-plus price tag.
But at least stadium spending always returns huge dividends to cities. Oh, wait.