By the time the 2020 fall GNAC season begins at Simon Fraser University, the grass berm along one side of Terry Fox Field will be turned into a covered seating area as part of an 18-month project which will provide seating for almost 2,000 for Clan football, soccer, and track and field. (Photo courtesy Simon Fraser athletics)
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SFU Stadium Project: Finally, a green light! Shovels set to break Burnaby Mountain soil in January for 18-month project

BURNABY — It’s a project whose flashing green-light past has too often gotten stuck on extended periods of solid amber. 

But now, the long-anticipated Simon Fraser University Stadium Project has been placed on an official 18-month timeline with shovels set to break into the Burnaby Mountain soil in January.

“After all these years, we are ready to start stadium construction and that’s going to be happening in just a few weeks,” Simon Fraser senior director of athletics and recreation Theresa Hanson told Varsity Letters on Tuesday of a project which has a completion date set for the summer of 2020.

The project, estimated to be in the $15 million range, will provide 1,820 permanent bucket seats to be installed along one entire side of Terry Fox Field, built into the grass berm which is home to the surrounding Lorne Davies Sports Complex.

Approximately 1,200 of those in the middle of the seating area, will be covered seats with approximately 300 on either side non-covered.

Hanson added that there may be other forms of less-permanent seating which could be added to increase total capacity for a facility that will continue to be used for football, soccer, and track and field.

“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,” Hanson said.

The plans also call for a press box, media centre and VIP area.

“The biggest part of this is that it has been a real collaborative effort with our students,” said Hanson. “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.

“And this is all the rosy stuff,” Hanson continued. “There has been a lot of heavy lifting, from funding needs to student needs, to university needs, to permits from the City of Burnaby. There have been many layers of complexities to get to where we are.”

Naming rights for the new SFU Stadium Project could well aid in the upgrade of scoreboard facilities at Terry Fox Field, and the field’s aging turf. (Photo courtesy Simon Fraser athletics)

There will also have to be a combined sacrifice from some of the creature comforts that come with playing and training atop the hill. At least for the time being.

With the project’s summer of 2020 timeline, the football team, as well as men’s and women’s soccer teams, will be forced to play their games at other facilities for the entire duration of their respective 2019-20 Great Northwest Athletic Conference seasons. The track and field program’s ability to host on-campus meets would be impacted for two seasons.

“It’s about an 18-month construction timeline, so we’re shooting for training camp 2020,” said Hanson, who added that temporary venues for the upcoming 2019 football and soccer campaigns had yet to be finalized.

“There will be some challenges and hurdles along the way,” Hanson added. “It’s a little short-term pain for longterm gain.

Simon Fraser recently signed a multimillion-dollar, five-year partnership with Nike to become its official and exclusive supplier of uniforms and apparel to all 19 of its varsity programs, as well as its club sports.

In a similar vein, Hanson said the school will explore ways in which sponsorships related to the new stadium project will bring in added revenues.

“We have the opportunity to sell naming rights that will benefit and augment our facilities as we look forward,” said Hanson. 

Terry Fox Field currently has a turf playing surface which is eight years old, and a scoreboard system in need of upgrade.

“I would say that both jointly and individually, everyone is beyond excited,” said Hanson of the vibe the project has brought to campus. “We’re all looking forward to what this will do for campus life, for the student-athlete experience and for recruiting. It’s something that has been lacking on campus.”

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