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Overlay work wraps up Empire Field construction in Vancouver

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by Richard Gilbert

A European company that specializes in the construction of temporary stadiums put the final touches on Empire Field stadium last week, just in time for the BC Lions first home game of the season.
Overlay work wraps up Empire Field construction in Vancouver

A European company that specializes in the construction of temporary stadiums put the final touches on Empire Field stadium last week, just in time for the BC Lions first home game of the season.

Switzerland-based Nussli completed construction at the former site of Empire Stadium in Vancouver.

The end of construction marks the first time that a temporary modular stadium has been built in North America.

“In such a short schedule, the biggest challenge was the occupancy permit, which includes getting all the little details done and making sure the whole stadium is compliant,” said Florian Weber, senior project manager with Nussli Special Events (Canada) Ltd.

“For example, we are putting stripes on the stairs for safety, lines are being painted on the field, the goal posts are being put up, we are checking how the lights work and the elevators have to be approved by the safety authority.”

Other details to attend to include putting up signage and cleaning all the seats, before they are handed over to the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE).

The PNE will take care of maintenance and repairs, as well as run the facility.

Nussli was commissioned in late 2009 by BC Pavilion Corporation (PavCo), the Crown Corporation that owns BC Place, to design, deliver and build a temporary stadium, while BC Place is closed for renovations.

The logistics of the tight schedule and meeting Canadian building standards and regulations for earthquakes were considerable challenges.

The stadium was completed in only 111 days, with a team of about 50 assemblers.

Never before has a fully functional stadium with seating for 27,500 fans been constructed in such a short time frame in North America.

The first game in the provisional stadium was on June 20th against the Edmonton Eskimos. The Lions lost 36-32.

The high-quality artificial turf playing surface and new lighting installed as part of the temporary outdoor stadium will remain as a legacy. It will be available for future users of Empire Field.

Altogether, the legacy items are valued at $2.8 million dollars.

“Since the plan to build the temporary stadium also required PavCo to return the original playing field, once the temporary stadium is removed, it made sense to leave the new turf field and accompanying lighting in place, leaving Empire Field in even better playing condition than when we started,” said Kevin Krueger, the minister responsible for PavCo.

“It will be a legacy that allows amateur teams to make use of a high-quality field all year long.”

The outdoor stadium will also be an additional special events venue during the PNE’s 100th anniversary this year.

The old Empire Stadium site at the PNE is well-known as the first home of the BC Lions, before they moved to BC Place in 1983.

The Nussli contract included responsibility for supplying complete power supply systems, flood and area lighting, stadium and emergency lighting, the sound system, and the construction of a VIP zone with suites, media and press rooms, as well as the installation of external cladding.

About 2,500 tons of material were used to build it, which is enough to fill about 160 40-foot containers.

The speed of installation, cost and efficiency are some of the advantages of modular stadium construction.

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