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Stadium games: The politicization of BC Place

Adrian Dix said today an NDP government would seek buyers for BC Place stadium.

The goal would be to retire some of the $1.2 billion debt incurred by B.C. Pavilion Corporation, a Crown corporation responsible for the stadium and the Vancouver Convention Centre.

The stadium, originally built in 1983, has long been a white elephant on the shores of False Creek. It has struggled to find enough events to fill the building.

After reports of problems with an inflatable roof, the BC Liberals vowed to repair and renovate the stadium. Earlier today, Vaughn Palmer of the Vancouver Sun outlined the rise in estimates over the years -- a $2.5-million touchup for the Olympics (March, 2008); a $100- to $150-million facelift (March, 2008); a $365 million renovation (November, 2008); a deluxe $563-million rebuild with a retractable roof.

The revamped facility was a gift for two tenants -- the B.C. Lions football team (who play eight regular-season games) and the Vancouver Whitecaps soccer team (18 games).

After winning the Grey Cup in 2011, the Lions brought the storied trophy over to the B.C. legislature in Victoria. Liberal MLAs got to pose with players and the trophy.

The football team took the trophy on a tour of the province, where fans were encouraged to also have their photograph taken with the Grey Cup, which was commissioned in 2009.

To see their photos online, the public had to go to a Facebook page run by the BC Liberal caucus.

Not surprisingly, NDP MLA Shane Simpson criticized the Liberals for politicizing the Grey Cup.

The B.C. Lions are owned by David Braley, an industrialist from Hamilton, Ont., who sits in the Senate as a Conservative after being appointed by Stephen Harper. The Lions have donated $53,850 to the BC Liberals since 2005. The Vancouver Whitecaps have donated $12,770.

Veteran political reporter Tom Hawthorn is part of The Tyee's 2013 election team.

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