Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. (File photo: Lauren Collins)

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. (File photo: Lauren Collins)

Surrey election

Doug McCallum promises to build 60,000-seat stadium if re-elected as Surrey mayor

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is promising to build a 60,000-seat stadium in the city if re-elected this fall.

The campaign promise is part of the Safe Surrey Coalition election platform, details of which will be released Thursday morning (Aug. 25), the mayor says.

“If we are re-elected, we are going to build a 60,000-seat arena in Surrey,” McCallum told the Now-Leader in a phone call Wednesday (Aug. 24).

“It would be multi-purpose and could be changed to handle any sport, maybe baseball, and soccer,” he added, “and we have a big demand for events we have, especially for cultural festivals, but we don’t have any place to put those events.”

In Vancouver, BC Place Stadium has a capacity of just over 54,000, and the two pro-sport tenants, BC Lions football club and Vancouver Whitecaps soccer team, come nowhere near filling the stadium with fans for games.

McCallum says 60,000 seats in an appropriate capacity for a Surrey stadium, or “arena,” as he called it.

“We have big cultural events, and have the ability to have a lot of people attend events. We don’t have even a mid-sized arena,” McCallum said.

“We’re a big city now, and we have to start thinking big like this. I think it’s shortsighted to build a stadium that is not going to be big enough and can work over the next 20 or 30 years.

“There are events that we feel we can fill it with, especially in the cultural area, and also there’s all sorts of requests we get from the movie industry, for filming locations. They’re always looking for big facilities, big spaces and so forth.”

An exact location is not yet decided, McCallum said.

Sports have become “very, very big in Surrey right now,” he said, “and we’ve been told that if we look at spectators for football and hockey, a good number of the spectators are from Surrey.

“We have some of the best sports facilities in Surrey, and we’re going to continue to build them,” McCallum added.

The civic election in Surrey will be held on Oct. 15.

Surrey First mayoral candidate Gordie Hogg says McCallum’s promise of a 60,000-seat stadium in Surrey “just doesn’t add up.”

McCallum has put absolutely no thought into this idea, Hogg charged, “because if he did, he’d know Surrey would be saddled with a white elephant that would cost taxpayers an arm and a leg each and every year. BC Place is heavily subsidized by the provincial government, which gives you some idea of how costly a facility like that is, not just in construction costs, but ongoing costs. We have more important priorities for Surrey than the Doug McCallum Fantasy Stadium, starting with public safety.”

Councillor Linda Annis told the Cloverdale Reporter on Wednesday she is skeptical about McCallum’s pledge.

“He’s talking about building a 60,000-seat stadium and I’m not sure any financial modelling has been done to determine whether or not it’s viable,” Annis said. “We know the Canucks, Whitecaps, and BC Lions already have a home. And while I’d love to see (a stadium) in Surrey, I think there’s an awful lot of work that needs to be done before we make those kind of bold statements.”

Jasbir Sandhu, a council candidate with Sukh Dhaliwal’s United Surrey slate, expressed his doubt about the campaign pledge over Twitter, as did many others Wednesday.

“This is a distraction from their record over the last four years,” Sandhu tweeted. “The canal is still not built. Beware of big promises by desperate politicians up for re-election.”

More reaction from Twitter:

– With files from Malin Jordan

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