Thunderbird Stadium’s Future Up for Discussion

Thunderbird Stadium

University of British Columbia officials are mulling the future of Thunderbird Stadium, which could make way for a new facility. 

Thunderbird Stadium first opened in 1967 and is home to several of UBC’s athletic programs, including soccer. It is also the home field for the USL’s Whitecaps FC 2.

The stadium is approaching its 50th anniversary, and is showing its age. The university fears that rising maintenence costs will make the Thunderbird Stadium costly over the long run, and are pondering the next step, which could be either a major overhaul to the facility or an outright replacement. Should a replacement be decided as the best option, UBC will have several sites to consider, all of which come with different cost implications. More from Business Vancouver:

Five options are on the table for the stadium that was built in 1967, Canada’s centennial year: keep the stadium and renovate it for $10 million or more; build a new stadium beside it, at Whit Matthews Field, for $80 million; build a new stadium at Rashpal Dhillon Track and Field Oval, and move the oval to Whit Matthews Field ($85 million); build a new stadium at the Osborne Centre and Tennis Bubble site for $105 million; or a hybrid option of a new stadium on Whit Matthews Field and an Athletics Centre of Excellence at the Tennis Bubble. The hybrid option would cost $30 million for the new stadium and $50 million for the athletics centre.

Michael White, UBC’s associate vice-president of campus and community planning, explains that the stadium is in an area identified as the future Stadium Road Neighbourhood. Whit Matthews Field was supposed to be one of the fields in the Whitecaps’ National Soccer Development Centre training complex, but plans were changed in 2013.

White said UBC is halfway through the consultation process on its 20-year facilities strategy. He said the list of options could be shortlisted before the process ends. A capital decision is not expected until some time after February.

 A UBC planning website lists various options for Thunderbird Stadium upgrades, including a $10 million project that would primarily address deferred maintenance, while a more expensive renovation would modernize player and fan amenities and lead to the construction of an athletics centre of excellence. The cost breakdown of the latter project includes $25 million for the renovation, plus another $50 million for the athletic centre.
Image courtesy UBC Athletics. 

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