Volume 92, Issue 7

Tuesday, September 15, 1998

here we go


Stadium jumps its final hurdle

By Dave Yasvinski
Gazette Staff

All systems are go for the construction of Western's new stadium which is set to accommodate the 2001 Canada games here in London.

Construction of the $10 million state-of-the-art facility was contingent on satisfying one final condition which the university met in June, said Peter Mercer, Western's VP-administration. The university was required to reach an agreement with the City of London regarding the use and operation of the stadium.

The city has agreed to pay Western $100,000 per year after the games are over in order to offset the rental costs from other groups around the city.

Chief Operating Officer for the 2001 London Alliance Host Society, Tim Sample, said they will be paying for $2.5 million of the stadium's construction which will likely begin in the middle of next year near the Huron flats, below Essex Hall. "We've put out the call for an architect, once one is chosen [construction] schedules will be put together," he said.

Sample added the collaboration between the city and the university is what makes this project so important. It will allow more groups to use the stadium for longer periods [of time]," he said.

Mercer said the university will also provide $2.5 million of the stadium's cost and the rest will be raised through a fundraising effort between Western and the Host Society, which will attempt to raise an additional $5 million to finance the games.

"We looked at the costs of renovating J.W. Little Stadium but it didn't make sense – it wouldn't have increased its life by much," Mercer said.

Mercer added although a new stadium would have been built eventually, the need for one was advanced by the 2001 games. "London needs a good stadium," he said.

Western football coach Larry Haylor said they will be building a 21st century stadium for use by everyone. "Its all-weather field and international level track will allow day-to-day and moment-to-moment use by many groups."

Haylor said the stadium's use of artificial turf will avoid enormous maintenance costs and the overhead lights will allow for night-time television coverage.

"The university needs to be reaching out to the community. This is a win-win proposition – there is potential for providing not just for campus sports but the broader community," he added.

Although J.W. Little Stadium did the job for football and certain events, this move is necessary, Haylor said. "The stadium is rapidly deteriorating and maintenance costs are high."

"Fifteen hundred seats had to be condemned for not meeting safety standards," Mercer said. The old stadium will be torn down to make room for new academic facilities, he added.

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Copyright The Gazette 1998