Richmond awarded Olympic Oval

September 09, 2004, vol. 31, no. 6

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The Olympic speed skating oval will not come to SFU. Despite a significant investment in time and money, and close to four years active commitment on the part of the university, the Vancouver-Whistler 2010 Organizing Committee (VANOC) reversed a previous decision and awarded the oval to the city of Richmond.

This move left officials at SFU frustrated and disappointed.

“The university held a signed venue agreement negotiated in good faith with the bid committee,” said Michael Stevenson, president of SFU. “When we were made aware of VANOC's concerns about costs we revised our proposal consistent with the financial parameters set out in our original agreement. However, it's clear from this decision that the terms of the original agreement were no longer what VANOC had in mind.”

The oval, now planned for Richmond, is expected to have a price tag of $155 million, more than double the expected cost of the SFU facility. VANOC's contribution to the project will be $60 million.

The decision to move the Olympic oval away from SFU means the loss of an unparalleled community legacy.

“This isn't just about recreational space for students. It's about community access and university-based research ranging from childhood obesity to mobility problems in the elderly,” said Stevenson.

The SFU proposal called for the construction of a large-scale, multi-purpose indoor field facility, which would have been out-fitted with a speed-skating track and associated facilities during the Olympic events. The venue would then have been converted to a multi-purpose field, sports training facility and research/instructional centre, and been available to student and community recreational users as well as varsity athletes and Canada's national team members.

“The rich legacy outlined in our proposal would have served competitive and recreational sport at all levels: health and wellness; and world-class kinesiology, psychology and health science programs. These are legacies that could only be provided by a premier university such as SFU,” says President Stevenson.

“This facility and its academic and community uses would have had long-lasting impacts on the region, the province and the nation.”

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