In case you haven’t noticed — and surprisingly, some people have not — a new professional football stadium has been constructed at the PNE fairgrounds in East Vancouver. Granted, the facility for the Canadian Football League’s B.C. Lions is a temporary one while a new retractable roof is put on B.C. Place Stadium during the next year or two.
But the 27,000-plus seat Empire Stadium represents a positive shift for sporting fans who appreciate their football played outdoors — in weather that might range from balmy perfect to blustery perfect.
There is some serious sporting history on this site — given that the team played here from 1954 to 1983. And that’s what has many fans excited about the new digs for the home side. But while the Empire Stadium environment will be a boon to the spectator experience during games, things might not be so pleasant beyond the stadium gates. Transportation to the site could become an issue — given that fans can no longer rely on SkyTrain and other downtown transit infrastructure.
That’s why Lions president Dennis Skulsky is looking to the Olympics for inspiration. VANOC and TransLink, remember, were able to move thousands to Pacific Coliseum during February’s figure skating and short-track speedskating events at nearby Pacific Coliseum. So the Lions are wisely reminding people that buses — not to mention walking and cycling — can get the job done for football game days, too.
A recent column focused on transit costs for high school and elementary school students not only touched a nerve with some parents, it also garnered reaction from Metro reader Gwen Lee, the president of the Vancouver-based Parent Support Group for Families of Mentally Handicapped Adults Society.
Lee would like to see people with developmental disabilities entitled to a discounted U-Pass.
“According to (TransLink’s) rationale, university students are entitled to a concession bus pass of $28 per month because their living expenses are higher than that of elementary and secondary students,” she wrote. “If that is the case, people with developmental disabilities, who are living below the poverty line, should be entitled to the same concession bus pass.”
TransLink’s board, she says, “needs to extend the same concession fares to the young, the old and the handicapped to ensure their access to affordable transportation is best suited to their needs and limitations.”
– Derek Moscato is a writer with a focus on urban issues, transportation, architecture and economics; email@example.com.