Vive Le Canada

Wicked wind whips deflated BC Place roof
Date: Wednesday, January 10 2007

[The 25-year-old fibreglass roof of BC Place had a guaranteed life of 25 years. It now lies on the floor of BC Place Stadium with one panel blown out and three other panels ripped and torn. They hope to mend the rips, but one full replacement panel is being made in Mexico for the New York suppliers. But will the tired fabric be repairable? Can the world's largest fabric roof be restored to a safe condition, able to accommodate large crowds again? What is this story really telling us about the future of BC Place? Well, first, for surf boarders and for the CanWest agenda, the games go on ... nothing to worry about in Vancouver. - BC Mary.]

High winds and big waves hit the Lower Mainland on Tuesday afternoon. Skim and surf boarders at English Bay took advantage of the forces of nature.

Jeff Lee, Vancouver Sun
January 10, 2007

Nature put on a massive display Tuesday of the trouble it is giving workers trying to repair the BC Place roof, whipping the woven fibreglass material in its own version of The Wave.

As BC Place officials were telling reporters during a tour inside the stadium why they were pulling 35 riggers off the roof for safety reasons, the wind howled down into the funnel created by the sagging, 250-tonne roof, and snapped the material, causing blasts that sounded like cannon-fire.

All around the stadium, dust, water and bits of fabric blew into the air, obscuring much of the playing field in a haze. Loudspeakers suspended from heavy cables around the rim snapped wildly up and down, nearly smashing on the seats below.

That's the reality that David Griffin, BC Place's director of operations, faces as he tries to effect repairs to the world's largest air-supported roof, and to get the stadium back in operation.

"You can see what we have to deal with," he said. "I haven't slept much in the last three days."

For the first time since employees deliberately deflated the roof Friday after one of four 45-metre-long triangular panels blew out, BC Place allowed reporters an inside look at the damage. They also explained what they are doing to get the building back in operation in time for a contractors show and landscaping expo scheduled for Jan. 23 and 24.

Griffin told reporters rigging crews have cleared away the remains of the shredded panel. A temporary replacement panel is due to be delivered today and will be installed within days.

A permanent panel is being manufactured by Birdair, the U.S. roof manufacturer, at its plant in Mexico. It will be installed at a later date. Three other tears in the roof are being heat-sealed, but one of them may also need to be replaced later.

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