Amid endless stadium debates, Minnesotans should look north to Canada for fresh ideas. Vancouver has completely renovated its 1980s inflatable-dome stadium into a beautiful, retractable-dome stadium that is the talk of Canada.
The original BC Place was a twin of the Metrodome. Its image languished due to an embarrassing deflation and outdated facilities.
After hosting ceremonies for the 2010 Winter Olympics, the stadium was given an 18-month, $563 million renovation that replaced the seating, suites, washrooms and concessions and added a retractable, cable-supported roof.
Based on a German design, a fixed roof covers the fans, while the playing field is covered with a retractable fabric roof. The retractable roof folds into a scoreboard suspended high above the playing field. Opening the roof takes a mere 20 minutes.
BC Place is now an eye-catching stadium; the soaring roof supports give it a dramatic crown, and the new wall of clerestory windows allow in light and views and make the stadium glow at night.
What is more, the complete renovation cost less than half the price of a new stadium. Vancouver is among the world's greenest cities, and this renovation reused existing materials and infrastructure at a central location served by light rail.
The city's renovated dome offers some tantalizing prospects for Minnesotans to consider: Could we go green, get a retractable roof and save hundreds of millions by renovating an existing, centrally located facility served by light rail?
MARK D. BJELLAND, ST. PETER