After years of waiting, the new SFU stadium is finally set to begin construction.
There was a buzz on Terry Fox Field as a crowd gathered on a beautiful Tuesday morning to break ground on the project. Among the crowd were SFU president Andrew Petter, SFU Athletics and Recreation senior director Theresa Hanson, SFSS vice-president student services Samer Rihani, stakeholders, media, student-athletes, and coaches. Everybody there was excited by what this new project means for SFU Athletics and SFU students for the future.
The Perkins and Will-designed stadium project will include seating for 1,800-plus people, with roughly two thirds of these seats covered by a roof. It is jointly funded by both SFU and the SFSS, and has been previously estimated to cost $15 million.
“This stadium represents a major commitment on the part of the Simon Fraser Student Society, and a significant contribution to the quality of student life here at SFU,” said Petter when speaking to the crowd. “Not only will it be used to provide seating for athletic events, but it will also serve as a facility for hosting campus community events, student orientation, concerts, tournaments and recreational activities.”
In this, SFU hopes that the stadium will benefit all students at SFU, not just those who watch or play varsity sports. At the same time, however, this new stadium should encourage more students to pay attention to Canada’s only NCAA school.
“People will now find a reason to learn about their athletes,” said Rihani when interviewed by The Peak, “To have a stadium and to have this actually in place is going to be a staple to show students, ‘Hey, we’ve got a stadium here, it’s clear that we take our athletics seriously.’”
This is an especially exciting time for the SFU players and coaches who will now play in front of a covered stadium.
“There have been times here at SFU where we played in front of one person for a varsity game. It’s just the reality of the way the place was built originally,” said men’s soccer’s head coach Clint Schneider, who recently coached his team to a third straight GNAC title, to The Peak. “Being covered is going to be a really positive step in the right direction […] I wouldn’t go to a game if I was going to get soaking wet, either.”
SFU football head coach Thomas Ford echoed this sentiment, telling The Peak, “I think you’re going to see our attendance raise dramatically just because of the space. An actual area to sit. Protection against the elements.”
This new stadium was part of the reason that Ford came to SFU to coach last year, and should help in recruiting players as well according to the coach. “In our [recruitment] class of 2019 the stadium was a huge reason why some kids chose SFU. Knowing that it’s actually happening, knowing that it’s gonna be starting before they come was a huge deal.”
SFU men’s soccer players Eric de Graaf and Marcello Polisi also shared their excitement about the new project with The Peak.
“In the fall for soccer when the weather is not too nice and it’s coming down hard having the roof over the stands will definitely encourage people to come out and support the team. So I think it’ll be great,” said de Graaf.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to get some more people out to the games,” said Polisi.
While this day has been a long time coming, it’s finally here. That being said, there is a lot of work that still needs to be done in order to meet the August 2020 deadline.
For more information on the SFU stadium project, read our previous coverage here.