SFU stadium is finally on its way

The $15 million, 1,820 seat project is expected to begin construction this month

The proposed stadium will turn the grass berm into 1,820 seats, with two thirds of the seats being covered. (Photo courtesy of SFU Athletics)

On December 12, roughly one month ago, Howard Tsumura from Varsity Letters reported that the SFU stadium project was finally given a green light. It’s a project that has been discussed for a long time now, and one that will definitely enhance the athletic experience for both SFU athletes and SFU athletics fans. Here is what we know about the project, a timeline for its preliminary steps, and when we can tentatively expect it to be completed.

Early 1990s — Stadium idea to host football games at SFU first reaches stage of artist renderings.

April 2017 — SFU unveils stadium plans

More than a year and a half ago, SFU announced the stadium project’s first phase. At the time, the project was expected to be completed by April 2020. A student levy from the SFSS between the years 2019–30 was presented as the main contribution towards the construction of the project, totalling $10 million. SFU also stated that the university would absorb any additional costs. The projected was presented as a student initiative, since students voted for the construction of the stadium and the student levy that would provide the funding.

The proposed stadium unveiling from 2017. (Photo courtesy of SFU Athletics) 

December 2018 — Howard Tsumura reports that stadium project was given green light

January 2019 — Shovels are expected to break soil for stadium project

January 2019–Summer 2020 — SFU football, SFU men and women’s soccer, and SFU track and field will not be able to host events on Burnaby Mountain.

For SFU football and soccer, this means not being to play the 2019 season at our home campus. For SFU track and field, this means having home events away from Burnaby Mountain during the 2019 and 2020 seasons, since their seasons take place in the spring.   

Summer 2020 — Stadium project aiming to be completed by training camp for SFU sports teams  

What we know about the project so far:

Need for an improved venue

If you’ve attended an outdoor SFU athletics competition on Burnaby Mountain, you can understand the need for change. On rainy days, which make up most of the fall and therefore most of the SFU football and soccer seasons, fans are discouraged from attending the events.

With an SFU men’s soccer team that was ranked #1 in the nation for much of the 2019 season, an exciting SFU women’s soccer team, and a SFU football team that looks to be turning their fortunes around under Thomas Ford, this is unacceptable. While the SFU men’s soccer team were undefeated last season, there we games in which there were nearly as many people participating on the field as there were people watching due to a lack of cover for fans.

The proposed stadium plans should fix this issue and encourage fans to attend SFU sports events no matter what the weather is like. Even on days with good weather, having fans sitting on a grass hill hardly seems like a proper way to celebrate the only NCAA team in Canada. While the stadium isn’t the flashiest of designs, it will go a long way in legitimizing SFU as a NCAA team.

Construction

If you think there’s a lot of construction on campus already, there’s only going to be more. The project has been given an 18-month timeline, which it can hopefully abide by. SFU track and field is already guaranteed to be spending two seasons away from home, while the SFU football and SFU soccer teams will play at a different venue in 2019. As stated by Hanson, the temporary venues for these teams have yet to be decided.

If the construction of this stadium takes longer than expected, the SFU football and soccer teams may be forced to play a second season away from Burnaby Mountain. Given SFU men and women’s soccer’s recent successes, and the quick improvements from SFU football with their new head coach, this time away from Terry Fox Field may be discouraging for SFU athletes and fans. Let’s hope there isn’t another SFU Student Union Building situation here.  

Cost

Initial projections have the stadium costing roughly $15 million. As was stated back in 2017 by SFU Athletics and recently echoed by Theresa Hanson, senior director of Athletics & Recreation, to Tsumura, SFU students will be contributing $10 million towards this project.

Breaking down the math (assuming that the student contribution will come through the student levy discussed in 2017), the SFU student body will be contributing roughly $830,000 a year towards this project for 12 years. With roughly 30,000 students, this breaks down to less than $30 a year for each student. These are estimates, but they should give you an idea of what you are contributing towards this new stadium. The Peak reached out to Hanson about the student contribution towards the stadium, but did not get a response in time for publication.  

“The biggest part of this is that it has been a real collaborative effort with our students,” said Hanson to Tsumura, before adding, “They are contributing $10 million to this stadium and I am proud to say that they can see the value of what we are doing to enhance the entire student on-campus experience.”

SFU recently agreed on a five-year partnership with Nike, officially naming the company as SFU’s exclusive supplier for varsity and club sports uniforms and apparel, which could potentially contribute towards the cost of this project. SFU also has the ability to sell the naming rights to the proposed stadium.

Seating

The stadium is projected to provide seats to 1,820 people along the side of Terry Fox Field closest to the SFU gym. The grass berm that occupies this side of the field provides a very rough example of how the seating pattern might follow. About two thirds of these seats will be under cover in the middle section, while 300 seats will be uncovered on either side of this section.

“There is still the option to use portable seating at the end zones, and if we need more seats, then that is a great problem to have,” said Hanson to Tsumura. Given that there hasn’t been much in terms of seating surrounding the field already, this is unlikely to be a problem any time soon.