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Langford to hold referendum on expanding Starlight Stadium

The city says it’s working with Pacific FC on an agreement for another five-year term, but a new deal is stalled because a promised expansion to 10,000 seats hasn’t happened

The City of Langford says it will hold a referendum to gauge taxpayer support for borrowing money to expand Starlight Stadium, home of professional soccer team Pacific FC.

The city said in a Facebook post that it’s working with Pacific FC to negotiate a new stadium-use agreement for another five-year term. But a new deal is stalled because a promised expansion to 10,000 seats from 6,000 in its original agreement hasn’t happened.

Expansion was delayed by a massive B.C. Hydro tower that was in the way of expanded seating. The tower has since been moved at a cost of $4.25 million, which had been approved by the previous Langford council.

But the expansion plans — and a new leasing deal between the city and Pacific FC — are still in limbo.

Pacific FC said completion of the stadium is critical to the continued growth and long-term viability of the team and to bring world-class events to the region.

An average of 3,241 people attended Pacific FC games in 2023.

Langford said council is including $50,000 in its 2024 capital budget for design renderings and cost estimates to add at least 2,000 more seats on the north side of the stadium.

At the same time, the city said council has authorized staff to prepare for a referendum to secure the funding required for the stadium expansion through long-term borrowing. A date was not provided for the vote.

CHEK News reported last week that the city received three proposals to expand the stadium in 2022, with costs ranging from $10.4 million to $14.6 million.

Council is already under pressure for unprecedented property-tax increases — property owners in Langford face a nearly 12% tax increase this year and an estimated 11% jump in 2025.

Langford said the hikes are necessary due to its rapidly growing population and the need for new firefighters and RCMP officers, among other costs.

“Council believes a referendum will ensure that all residents can have their voice heard on this significant investment,” the city said in its Facebook post.

The city said council has supported other amendments to the stadium-use agreement requested by Pacific FC, including stadium exclusivity provisions and increased revenue-sharing options.

“While negotiations are complex and involve numerous intertwined agreements between the city and PFC, the city has presented a mutually beneficial offer of a new five-year use agreement to PFC,” the city’s post said.

“The city is optimistic that this will be finalized in the coming days and that PFC will continue to play in Langford for years to come.”

The delay in a new agreement, which would have automatically been triggered on June 30 if the soccer team chose to do so, fuelled rumours on social media last month that the team would move out of Langford.

But the city and the team both said they were working on a new deal.

Pacific FC opens its season at home on April 13 against HFX Wanderers FC of Halifax.

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