All set for Westhills Stadium grand opening on Saturday

Even Langford Parks and Recreation manager Cory Manton, who is used to his town’s progressive and streamlined approach to development, seemed in awe as he toured the media around Westhills Stadium on Tuesday.

The upgrade from fewer than 2,000 seats to 6,200 is a major accomplishment, even by Langford standards.

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“Pacific FC first approached us in May of 2018 and we’ve been on Langford time ever since. Nobody else could have done this,” said Manton, adding that nearly 200 contractors and workers have been on the site this summer.

Pacific FC has played through the construction in the inaugural soccer season of the professional Canadian Premier League. Everything will be finished — including three permanent concessions and the new plaza, stage and family area — for Saturday afternoon’s official grand opening. That will take place before the CPL game between Pacific FC and Valour FC of Winnipeg.

Everything is ready, that is, except for the permanent washroom facilities. Fans will have to continue relieving themselves in port-a-potties until the washrooms are completed in time for the following PFC home game Sept. 4 against Forge FC of Hamilton.

That can’t come soon enough for the fans who imbibe of the stadium’s craft brews or those fans with their own water bottles, who will now be able to use four newly installed free aqua-filling stations.

Even if it’s not completely finished, it’s very close, with several state-of-the-art features.

“The new stadium audio speakers, which fans will hear Saturday, provide fantastic sound quality,” Manton said.

“But what fans won’t see — the tremendous amount of work that has gone on underground beneath the stadium involving hydro, water, gas and electrical — is just as impressive.”

Sixteen of the 18 stadium suites have sold at a cost of between $15,000 to $18,000 each per year. Two suites have been held back and can be rented on a per event basis. Each luxury suite has 27 seats, with room for several standees.

Brad Norris-Jones, PFC executive vice-president of operations, said Saturday’s game is “trending toward a sellout” of more than 6,000 fans.

“It’s exciting, because not many teams get to have two home openers,” said Norris-Jones. The first game in franchise history was played in April at the stadium, then under construction.

Another major tenant is Rugby Canada, whose next event at Westhills will be the Canada versus B.C. All-Stars fixture on Aug. 30. That will be the last chance for Island fans to see off Canada to the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

The Canada Sevens women’s tournament returns to Westhills Stadium next May 2-3 and will be a prelude to the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, for which both the Langford-based Canadian women’s and men’s sevens teams have qualified.

The junior Westshore Rebels of the B.C. Football Conference, undefeated at 3-0, are the third major tenant of Westhills Stadium. They play their next home game Sept. 14 against the Valley Huskers of Chilliwack.

The newly completed end-zone grandstand, which makes its debut Saturday, provides PFC with a European-style soccer feel that is rare in Canada.

Underneath that grandstand is the Rebels’ new dressing room, a proper size for football with 64 player stalls.

The Lego-style construction design of the stadium is from a German company specializing in timber construction, Rubner Holzbau, with a fabrication plant in Italy. The glued and laminated timber grandstands have received seven coats of a water-proofing material.

“It all came over in 30 large containers,” Manton said.

With so many sports needing so many different lines on the Westhills Stadium field, Langford has invested in a machine that paints and scrubs lines on and off the turf as needed.

“There’s going to be a lot of paint going on and off this field,” Manton said.

Langford had sent aside $5 million for stadium upgrades, with the rest for the $10-million project coming from sponsors and developers.

The second phase will include a climbing wall and the adjacent Boxing B.C. training centre to go with the Rugby Canada, Cycling Canada, Tennis Canada and Golf Canada training centres already located in Langford. The third phase of Westhills Stadium proper will include the removal of a power pole and addition of grandstands to the far side of the field.

“We have applied for grants to move the pole, which would then allow us to build the bleachers along the other sideline of the field,” said Manton.

Manton said the power pole could be moved by next May. The final 2,000-seat grandstand should be in place by the 2021 or 2022 sports season.

Also opening Saturday in conjunction with the stadium will be the Sarah Beckett Memorial Playground in honour of the RCMP officer, wife and mother of two killed in the line of duty by a drunk driver in Langford. The playground is located directly behind the main Westhills Stadium grandstand and in front of the Rugby Canada Al Charron training centre.

The Rotary Club of West Shore has been instrumental in the fundraising, which helped get the $250,000 playground completed.

“The rubberized surface of the playground is in RCMP colours,” Manton said.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com

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