I didn’t appreciate just which path of ugly BC Place was navigating until halfway through the renovation, when it dawned on me that the giant metal “Ls” placed around the stadium’s upper concrete rim were not temporary construction cranes but a permanent architectural feature.
While no fan of the previous incarnation –that fetish nightmare of concrete encased puffy white flesh in bondage restraints- at least it had the decency to keep a low profile. I could almost ignore it. But the upturned alien crab, with its legs clawing skywards, I can hear its death screech in my head –something very like an orchestra of nails dragging along a chalkboard.
Distance provides some relief, but night is no refuge. The constantly shifting colour scheme turns the thing into a giant Hydro-sucking mood ring: purple for Epilepsy Awareness Day (there’s an “epilepsy awareness” day?), “franchise blue” for FC matches, and “greenest city green” for the Home & Garden Show. (In fairness, the new roof is apparently 25% more energy efficient than the original and the estimated annual savings of about $350,000 a year will no doubt help defray the cost of the lighting bill. Unfortunately, it won’t help the servicing of the retractable roof’s intricate mechanics: rain seepage has –supposedly- ceased, but six months after opening grease leaks are threatening repair bills of anywhere from $1 million to $10 million, depending on whether you get your news from a fabulous BC Place business partner or some other source.)
And it stinks, too: a US gambling operation, with a former BC Lottery Corp CEO and a former mayor as exclusive shareholders; a “no new roof, no casino” business model; 100% public funding; 300% cost overruns; resources siphoned from arts and community groups; limited public consultation (foiled by Vancouver Not Vegas); skyrocketing maintenance costs; etc etc etc.
But it’s out of this steaming pile of corruption and decay, this undying commitment of a few serving a select fewer and the ambitious scale of waste, that the real beauty of the new stadium arises. Pure in form and function, the construction crane encrusted machine of Rube Goldberg complexity is nothing less that a publicly funded conceptual art piece built by, and dedicated to, the local development dynamic.
The scam as monument to the Scam.