2015 Women’s World Cup
As soccer lovers across the globe tune in to the 2015 Women’s World Cup (WWC), they’ll also be turning their attention to Canada – a country proving itself as a mainstay in the epicenter of global sports.
Just five years removed from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, Canada is set to host the largest Women’s World Cup in history with 24 teams playing 52 matches across six different cities from Moncton to Vancouver. Next month, the 2015 Toronto Pan American and Parapan American Games will be the largest multi-sport event the country has ever hosted – drawing more athletes and sports than even the 2010 Olympics.
While Canada is certainly not the largest country in the world by population, it’s proving itself one of the most equipped to host the world’s best athletes. It’s no mistake Canada is consistently awarded these opportunities as it has some of the most innovative and valuable sports venues in the world.
Still, a World Cup and the Pan Am Games a month apart… how exactly did we get here?
Stadiums that Strengthen Community
A signature of Canadian sports venue design has been a refreshing focus on the community. Throughout history, stadiums were often designed solely for a specific event. Cities and designers would create remarkable facilities that wowed competitors and visitors but then had little value beyond the competition. Often, these large facilities would become financially burdensome for the region and offer little functional value in the long term. Do a Google image search for “abandoned stadiums” and you’ll see what happened to many of these stadiums.
The Richmond Olympic Oval (ROO), the signature venue of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games, is one of the first facilities credited with changing this trend. As the first ever Olympic speed skating facility designed for legacy use, the ROO highlighted a new direction for these large multi-use facilities.
I don’t think this is anything close to an (overstatement)– this building has no equal anywhere in the world,” said VANOC CEO John Furlong prior to the 2010 Olympic Games. “No building in Olympic history looks anything like this and will do anything like this.
Now, years after the games have passed, the ROO lives on as a valuable community center and recreation outlet for the City of Richmond and surrounding region. The facility has spurred the creation of a new urban waterfront neighborhood and continues to nourish and support it as an engine for economic growth.
The visionary community focus of the ROO is echoed in several facilities hosting the international competitions this summer. The Hamilton Soccer Stadium, a key venue for the 2015 Pan Am games, is designed as a flexible “neighborhood stadium” capable of hosting professional and amateur sports, cultural events and prestigious competitions. Lansdowne Stadium in Ottawa, home to several WWC matches this summer, is a “Stadium in the Park” that departs from the traditional notion of a stadium as an inert building and instead integrates itself into the historic Lansdowne Park. The venue sets forth a new paradigm for how modern, urban stadiums are designed, enabling people to exist both in the park and the stadium at the same time. The venue has reenergized the city’s downtown and introduced new retail and commercial development. All of these aforementioned facilities, spanning the entire country of Canada, exist as civic assets rather than burdens.
Evolved Sport Offerings
Just as it has keyed the creation of legacy venues, Canada has also recharged and strengthened its roster of facilities. The Milton Veolodrome features a 250-meter timber track with two 42-degree banks for cyclists to use during the Pan Am games and beyond. The oval-shaped, three-story velodrome is the first of its kind in Canada and only the second meeting top international standards in North America. The addition of such a facility uniquely positions Canada to host international sport competitions and also gives its cyclists, who historically have been forced to train outside – even during the winter months, a new home for training.
Commonwealth Stadium, a venue embedded in Canadians sport heritage and a key venue for the 2015 WWC, has also evolved its ability to host major events. Since the turn of the millennium, Commonwealth has welcomed a new façade, an enlarged concourse, scoreboard, all-weather track and improvements to stadium seating and locker rooms. Moreover, the stadium has also created the Commonwealth Community Recreation Center – equipped with an aquatic and fitness center as a resource for the community.
Even BC Place, the host venue for the WWC Championship matches and the 2010 Olympic opening and closing ceremonies, has been refurbished and renovated to keep it one of the premier global sport and entertainment venues. Through stadium upgrades and investments in its corporate suites and fan experience, BC Place continues to attract leading international competitions. The signature, retractable roof, gives the venue iconic detail and ensures it can host events year round.
Looking Toward the Future
This year’s WWC and Pan American Games are two of many signs indicating that Canada will remain a key player in global sports. Its sports leaders have a powerful vision for how they can evolve and strengthen competition facilities with a focus on community, innovation and sustainability. If its recent past is any indicator, Canada’s voice will be one of the loudest and most relevant in discussions about the future of sports venues. It’s also an indication that it probably won’t be too long before we’re all once again turning our attention toward Canada to watch the world’s best compete.