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Richmond is as good as gold

Speed skating oval will leave a legacy

Matthew Hoekstra, Staff Reporter

Richmond has already begun planning the biggest capital project in the history of the city after being named the host of the 2010 Winter Games speed skating oval Tuesday.

By Oct. 31, 2007, the little used road of Hollybridge Way will be a gateway to a $124-million Olympic oval.

"We have a facility that's going to be a signature facility for the city of Richmond and a signature facility for the Olympic Games. It's located in a spot that is an absolute jewel," said Richmond Mayor Brodie.

The oval will be constructed on the eastern portion of a city-owned 29-acre site along River Road. The building itself will cost $118 million, which includes a $16-million contingency fund. Post-Games conversion costs add $6 million.

Richmond will also spend $19 million on a waterfront park, and will dedicate $18 million to cover inflation, for a total cost of $155 million-about the size of city's annual operating budget.

Despite the staggering cost of the project, Richmond's share is only between $32 and $42 million and won't require a tax increase, the mayor said.

"We will not increase property tax. We will not incur debt and we will not sell our parks," said Brodie.

The Vancouver Organizing Committee will contribute $60 million, $50 million will come from casino revenue over the next 10 years, and $74 million will be generated through area land development, which could include a mix of residential and commercial.

In addition, up to $32 million could come from sponsors and from selling the rights of naming the oval-an opportunity Brodie believes the business community will jump at.

"Every single plane that's going to come in and out of Vancouver is going to see that facility," he said. "If I was the CEO of a large corporation, I would be very encouraged to put money into the naming of that facility."

Construction on the 363,000-square foot oval is expected to start in the fall of 2005. It will be significantly larger than other speed skating oval buildings.

Seating capacity during the Games will be 8,000 and reduced to 2,000 permanent seats post-Games, when the oval will be transformed into a multi-use complex capable of hosting summer and winter sports, in addition to other events.

Modelled after Calgary's Talisman Centre, the oval will also have room for restaurants, retail shops and health and wellness facilities.

With post-Games floor space large enough to hold four DC-10 aircraft wing-to-wing, the oval will still be able to host a long-track speed skating oval and two-Olympic-sized ice rinks inside it after 2010.

The city will consult with national organizations, universities, other agencies and the community to determine the post-Games programming mix.

Through its commitment to high performance sport, Richmond will get a piece of a $110-million legacy fund after the Olympics to help cover operational costs.

That fund is part of the organizing committee's $620-million Games budget (money provided by the B.C. and federal governments), and will be split between three Olympic venues.

Although it's not known what portion of that Richmond will get, city spokesperson Ted Townsend said a conservative estimate pegs Richmond's earnings at $1.5 million in annual interest alone.

Richmond's chief administrative officer, George Duncan, said the city has the experience to manage the mammoth project, noting the city has completed $261 million in capital projects in the last five years, including Richmond City Hall.

"All of those projects came in on time and on budget," he said.

Current users of the oval's future site, the Richmond RV Park and the community garden, will be relocated, the city says.

The Richmond Olympic Oval

  • Oval cost:$124 million
  • Total project cost:$155 million
  • Bid consulting and travel costs:$165,000
  • Oval size:363,000 square feet
  • Seating capacity:8,000 during Games, 2,000 post-Games
  • Location:River Road between No. 2 Road and Dinsmore bridges
  • Planned completion date:Oct. 31, 2007
  • Travel time to Olympic Village in Vancouver:20-25 minutes

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