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Quiet cash quells Olympic concerns over BC Place flame

The producer of the 2010 Winter Olympics opening and closing ceremonies pleaded for major spending at B.C. Place Stadium in a report obtained by the Vancouver newspaper 24 hours.

David Atkins Enterprises Productions Canada’s Ceremonies Capital Works report listed 21 items “required so that a world-class ceremonies can take place.”

“The opening ceremonies are a vital part of any Olympics and set the tone and vibrancy for the rest of the Games,” said the April 14, 2009 document. “If these works are not completed then the ceremonies will suffer and this will directly impact on the Games.”

Improvements were called “fit for purpose” or “capital works required for broadcast and media concerns.”

A key item was the building of the Olympic cauldron in the centre of the stadium floor.

The four metre by four-metre by four-metre, concrete-lined chamber required a one-metre diameter, 13-metre deep clear internal shaft.

The report also called for carbon dioxide detectors, upgrades to air pressure control systems and a constant internal air pressure of 300 pascal to keep the fabric dome inflated.

On May 20, six weeks after the report's date, the VANOC board secretly approved withdrawing $8.3 million from the construction contingency.

The transaction was disclosed June 16 in a quarterly financial report. VANOC deputy CEO Dave Cobb said the B.C. Place works were secret.

Cobb claimed it was a capital cost “directly tied to the show that our executive producer wants.”

“We like to keep what we're doing secret until the ceremonies happen for the surprise element,” Cobb said.

The federal government pledged in February 2008 to pay half of VANOC’s $40 million budget for opening and closing ceremonies.

Bob Mackin reports for 24 hours.

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