New stadium to be voted on
By Sara Marett
If all goes according to game plan, Western athletes will soon be playing on brand new turf as the building of a $10 million stadium has been proposed for the 2001 Canada Summer Games.
In a Senate meeting Friday, VP-administration Peter Mercer announced proposed plans for a new stadium to be built, instead of refurbishing the existing J.W. Little Stadium for the Games. The proposal must be approved by Western's Board of Governors at their Nov. 27 meeting in order to go ahead as planned.
The City of London, in partnership with Grand Bend, Woodstock, St. Thomas and Western, won their bid in June to host the Games. Mercer explained when the bid was put forth, the initial plans were to refurbish the existing stadium at a cost of $5 million. The London Alliance Host Society agreed at this time to provide $2.5 million and Western would give the remaining $2.5 million.
"At this time we also reserved the right to build a new building on a new site at the cost of $10 million," Mercer said. He explained the same amount of money would be given by the Host Society and Western and they would then be responsible as a team for raising the remaining $7.5 million.
The proposed stadium will be located on the Huron Flats, at the end of the parking lot, Mercer explained. He said this location would be ideal as it is flood land, where few buildings could be built.
The life span of the new stadium would be approximately 50 to 70 years. It is planned to boast an all-weather track, better seating and change rooms and an improved press box.
The option of refurbishing the old stadium, which was built in 1929, was unattractive because of its age, Mercer said. "The old stadium is a deteriorating structure refurbishing it would be like continuing to add new parts to an old car," he said.
The old stadium would be demolished, freeing up a great deal of central space, Mercer said. He added the land currently occupied by J.W. Little stadium would provide space for a building the size of Western's Law Building, University College and an additional 80,000 square foot building.
"The attractiveness of Western increases the importance of our campus as a recruitment tool," Mercer said.
Ian Black, student senator for the faculties of health sciences/medicine and dentistry, expressed concern over the location of the proposed stadium on Huron Flats, as it is currently used for kinesiology classes, campus recreation and intramural sports activities.
Mercer replied that an area such as Baldwin Flats east of the Thames River, may be used for these activities and any difficulties faced by the changes to this location would be solved by the opportunities a new stadium would provide.