After breaking ground on the new Cloverdale Arena Aug. 24, Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum said, if re-elected, he’ll build a massive multi-purpose stadium in Surrey.
He also said he wants both the Canucks and Lions to relocate to the City of Parks.
“We want the B.C. Lions … to play the games out in Surrey and we’ve also said that to the Canucks.”
McCallum explained that because Surrey is growing so rapidly—he said it is set to surpass Vancouver in population in four to five years—the city can support professional franchises. He said the majority of Whitecaps, Lions, and Canuck fans are from Surrey.
“If we can encourage those teams to come to Surrey, it’ll be a great opportunity.”
McCallum added that part of bringing the Lions to Surrey will be to build a massive stadium.
“One of our commitments … as part of our campaign, the Safe Surrey Coalition, is we are going to build a 60,000-person arena in Surrey,” McCallum revealed. “It’ll be a multi-use arena for all sports.”
McCallum said the city already has three locations in mind, but wouldn’t reveal where. He added the stadium is an election committment and if Safe Surrey is reelected they’ll be in talks “the next day” with the Canucks and Lions.
McCallum added he’s already been talking with the Canucks in an effort to eventually get some preseason games in Cloverdale after the new Sports and Ice Complex is built. He also wants the Canucks to eventually hold their training camp in Cloverdale.
When built, the new Cloverdale Sports and Ice Complex will have two NHL-sized ice sheets with seating for about 400 people.
“(The Canucks) are very interested in these rinks because they are professional-sized,” McCallum said. “We’ve had talks both with the Lions and with the Canucks (in) a lot of areas of promoting both of those sports out here.”
McCallum said the world is recognizing Surrey for its first-class sporting facilities. He said that, in turn, is attracting even higher numbers of sports tourists.
“It’s a huge benefit,” he noted. “The sports tourism dollars that come into our city, for all our small businesses, certainly Cloverdale has had a huge benefits from when we’ve done the rodeo and so forth, and so the spinoff of these big events is that small businesses really prosper because of the number of people that come, literally, from around the world.”
McCallum also said Surrey is supplanting Vancouver as the number one city in B.C. for hosting sporting events.
“It’s happening right as we stand here today,” he said. “We’re winning all the international sports events.”
Councillor Linda Annis, who was also on hand for the groundbreaking, said that while she’s happy the arena is finally being started, she feels the delays were unnecessary.
“It’s really unfortunate that this didn’t happen when it was supposed to be happen,” Annis said. “We’d be standing in the arena today, probably cutting the ribbon, but unfortunately we’re not even at groundbreaking yet. So it’s a great day, in that it is hopefully moving forward, but it should’ve happened three and a half years ago.”
Annis is skeptical McCallum can build a big stadium.
“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 added. “We know the Canucks, Whitecaps, and B.C. 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.”
As for the Cloverdale Sport & Ice Complex, McCallum said he’s excited to finally get to the groundbreaking after many delays.
“I am thrilled to see construction get underway,” he said. “This new arena will not only provide additional ice to meet the needs of Cloverdale residents but will serve both city-wide and sport destination needs.”
He expects the twin rink to open within two years and be ready to go for the 2024-2025 hockey season.
McCallum said the soil issues that delayed the arena’s start nearly four years ago will be mitigated in the construction process.
“The soil in the Fraser Downs (area) is hard to build on, none of the buildings around here have basements and so forth,” he explained. “Through different engineering techniques that we have applied … we’ll be able to, during construction, stabilize the soils so that we can put the building on top of the ground.”
McCallum said the arena’s cost is currently estimated at $40 million-plus.
This is up from original estimates when the project was first commissioned years ago, but much lower than the $55 million the city earmarked for the project before Christmas in 2021.
A total of $55 million has been allocated over the next three years in the city’s budget for 2022, which includes a five-year financial plan through to 2026. That funding breakdown works out to $32 million in 2022, $13 million in 2023, and $10 million in 2024. That five-year (2022-2026) financial plan was approved by Surrey city council during a 20-minute meeting on the morning of Christmas Eve (Dec. 24), 2021.
The Cloverdale Sport & Ice Complex will be located at 6336 177B Street on the Cloverdale Fairgrounds.