B.C. Place roof causing problems -- again

By BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER - Imagine if Mother Nature rained on the parade at the first indoor Olympic opening ceremony in history on Friday.

Heavy rains forecast by Environment Canada will test the crew responsible for keeping water from pooling on B.C. Place Stadium’s 27-year-old air-supported fabric roof.

The big white dome is kept aloft by industrial fans, but the weight of lights and speakers installed for the opening ceremony production is causing parts of the dome to flatten and rainwater to pool.

During a Jan. 14 storm, the round-the-clock roof maintenance crew was on a break when a roof panel inverted and rainwater crashed through an emergency drainage hole like a waterfall to the floor below.

That incident came three years after one of four triangular panels ripped and collapsed because the snow melting system was not used during a Jan. 5, 2007 storm. The British Columbia government considered replacing the roof before the Olympics but opted to delay the work until after the Games.

Costs for the new retractable system and interior renovations have already ballooned from $365 million to nearly $600 million.

The B.C. Lions will play outdoors at the former site of Empire Stadium until July 2011. The retractable roof was key in Vancouver winning a Major League Soccer expansion franchise for 2011.

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