It’s like the saying goes: if at first you don’t succeed in building the stadium that students voted for and have already started paying for, try, try again.
With a unanimous vote, the Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) has decided to move forward in approving a new version of the Build SFU stadium, a project which was originally cancelled seven months ago when its budget estimate was triple what they were expecting.
“On August 11, we cancelled the project for the reasons we mentioned before. The cost estimates were too much, and SFU wasn’t willing to contribute anything more than the million dollars,” said Arr Farah, vice-president (VP) university relations for the SFSS. “Athletes came and spoke about how the university had made a commitment and said that they would be able to cover the costs of the stadium and finance the project, which, to some degree, was news to us.”
With that contribution from SFU, the project — which is now more economically-friendly than the $30-plus million stadium originally tabled — had a better chance of succeeding. It took a lot of negotiating between SFU and the SFSS, but eventually the new plan was agreed upon.
“We kind of had [those conversations] throughout September and October. November and December were kind of a wash, because the university has a lot of VPs and people who need to be in the room for all these conversations, and they travel the world all the time for some reason,” said Farah. “But when we got to January, that was when the heavens were moved and things started to happen. And that was when SFU said they would be able to give us the $10 million without any sort of financing agreement, which would save us.”
Farah said he was sure students would want to know how the costs were reduced, and wanted them to understand some of the processes they went through.
“I think the biggest thing to note in that original cost estimate we got: the roof was $7 million. That’s, like, half of the cost of the new project, which is insane. There are things like the press box which are over $2 million, and these are huge extravagant items which made that cost go up so high,” he said. “It may not look as great as some people wanted, but it helps.”
Olivia Aguiar, the president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC), was also present in the room for the vote. She’s been present ever since a horde of student athletes stormed an SFSS meeting to voice their displeasure over the stadium being cancelled. In a word, she felt relieved at the steps taken today.
“I’m excited that since summer we’ve gotten to this point, because there were some pretty rough times in between. It’s nice to see that everything we had discussed had been taken into consideration, and that those discussions have occurred and now we’re back in a position where we’re up and running,” she said.
However, with how tumultuous everything has been, she isn’t willing to fully celebrate until she physically sees something happening.
“I think once I see the trucks on the field digging the hill and I see that ribbon being cut, I think at that moment I will realize this is actually happening,” she said, laughing.
Now it is SFU’s to approve, and that will take place at their next Board of Governors meeting which is currently scheduled for March 30. Should they approve it, a written agreement will come into place on April 3.