Friday, January 6, 2012

After 204 days, the wait is over!


The Stanley Cup riot 2011 accountability clock has been deactivated and removed from this blog.

It took 204 days for someone to admit guilt on Jan. 6, 2012.

Let it be known that the first person was 20-year-old Ryan Dickinson.

He was charged Dec. 5, 2011 with participating in a riot, two counts of mischief over $5,000 and for breaking curfew on the night of the riot. He was arrested two days later by Coquitlam RCMP and spent Christmas in jail, according to a story in The Province.

On Jan. 6, Dickinson copped a plea bargain and entered a guilty plea in Vancouver Provincial Court for participating in a riot and breach of recognizance. He is to be sentenced Feb. 7 and the hearing could be broadcast, if the judge approves a government-driven Crown counsel application.

Dickinson was put on probation for a year in October after a separate assault conviction. He is, coincidentally, a sheet-metal apprentice who works at a window-repair company. The streets were riddled with broken metal and glass on June 15, when the Vancouver Canucks were embarrassed on home ice to the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup final.

No public officials, whether they be elected politicians or appointed staff, have taken fault for the poorly planned Stanley Cup fan zone in downtown Vancouver on June 15.

If one ever does, you'll read about it here.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2010 Games live forever at B.C. Sports Hall of Fame

The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics opened and closed at B.C. Place Stadium, and that’s where the tangible memories are now housed.

Almost two years after the Games, the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame and Museum doors reopen Jan. 6 at Gate A with its marquee Vancouver 2010 Gallery.

The 2,000 artifacts in the Olympic and Paralympic collection include gold, silver and bronze medals, mascots Miga, Quatchi and Sumi, a podium, torches, the late Jack Poole’s Olympic Order award, athlete uniforms and equipment and gifts brought by national Olympic committees. For Olympic pinheads, the Hall purports to have every single one of the keepsakes made for the 2010 Games.

The treasures were gathered via the tireless efforts of president Sue Griffin, curator Jason Beck, operations director Allison Mailer and trustee Joanie McMaster. Griffin reasonably feared before the Games that cash-strapped VANOC was going to put everything up for auction.

Much of the collection is organized in five display cases resembling each of the Olympic rings and representing the venues where the Games took place. You will find artifacts worn, used or signed by Canada's stars of the Games, like Alexandre Bilodeau, Joannie Rochette, Maelle Ricker, Jon Montgomery, Sidney Crosby and Hayley Wickenheiser. But there is a plethora of other nuggets that might surprise you.

There is a suit, helmet, goggles and practice snowboard that belonged to Johnny Lyall, who flew through the air on a ramp from level 4 and landed on the floor of B.C. Place to greet opening ceremony viewers from around the world. His script on a folded white piece of paper in large Helvetica type is included in the display case: "Welcome to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games! Bienvenue!"

Nancy Greene-Raine’s torch relay uniform and the torch she used to light the ceremonial cauldron was autographed by Wayne Gretzky, Steve Nash, Catriona Le May Doan and Rick Hansen.

Two dozen of the 84 nations of the Games donated a set of ceremonial uniforms.

"Azerbaijan, they've got some good pants, just as good as the Norwegian curling crew,” said the hall’s operations director Allison Mailer during a preview tour.

Hockey superfan Dave Ash, who owns Regina-based Dash Tours, donated his white hockey helmet with the red siren light and his giant Canada flag that Corey Perry borrowed for Team Canada’s victory celebration. Ash paid $3,000 for his front-row seat to the Feb. 28, 2010 gold medal hockey game.

Pakistani alpine skier Muhammad Abbas, who was 79th in the giant slalom, donated the hand-carved, wood plank skis on which he learned as a child.

"Our wish list has been completed, we're just so thrilled,” Mailer said. “The only thing we really want is a Shaun White snowboard. I think we'll still work on it. Maybe we'll send him pictures of the gallery and tell him what's missing."

The provincial sports shrine also reopens with a redesigned Hall of Champions that features a touchscreen multimedia archive of all 325 individuals and 54 teams inducted since its 1966 establishment. Nearby is a display case that include mementoes of Vancouver visits by the 20th century’s greatest athletes -- a Santos jersey worn and signed by Pele and handwraps autographed by Muhammad Ali -- plus the puck used to score the Vancouver Canucks’ first National Hockey League goal and a stopwatch that timed the famed 1954 Miracle Mile between Roger Bannister and John Landy at Empire Stadium.

Elsewhere, the hall includes jerseys, trophies and gear spanning the histories of the B.C. Lions, Canucks, Vancouver Whitecaps and Vancouver Canadians, plus galleries devoted to Hansen, late race car driver Greg Moore and national hero Terry Fox.

The grand reopening is planned for Feb. 10, two days before the second anniversary of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Five years ago today: where were you when the roof went down?

(Originally published Jan. 5, 2011)

Where were you on Jan. 5, 2007?

It was a cold day with occasional drizzle, even wet snow. I was watching the World Junior Hockey Championship final broadcast when a friend frantically called and told me to turn on CKNW, because the B.C. Place Stadium roof collapsed. (This is how it all went down.)

I did, then hastily called a source who might know what really happened. What an embarrassment for the 2010 Olympic stadium! I was told the roof had numerous patches and that management cut back on use of the snow melting system. For the next week, B.C. Place management denied snow was a factor, despite the evidence I was supplied.

Reporters allowed into the east airlock of the dome were speechless at the downed roof, damaged equipment, puddles of water and piles of snow. Here is my report from Jan. 5, 2007.

A year later, a Geiger Engineers report (dated Oct. 12, 2007) was issued that confirmed it was preventable. Snow had accumulated and five snow alarms ignored. Finally the air pressure was frantically increased, the snow avalanched and ripped the roof. PavCo called it a controlled deflation but my sources told me that chaos reigned while the big top came down. There is even more in this report by the B.C. Place joint health and safety committee.

On Jan. 19, 2007, the patched roof was reinflated. A major renovation, including the new roof, was announced by Premier Gordon Campbell on May 18, 2008. A heavy-duty roof heating system by Genivar was installed before the 2010 Winter Olympics. If you went to B.C. Lions' games in 2009, you may have spotted those big, white bent finger pipes in each of the corners. The roof barely made it through the Olympics. The weight of lights and speakers caused it to flatten. Crews were stationed atop the roof around the clock to prevent big puddles that could have ripped the roof. That almost happened on Jan. 14, 2010.

The roof was finally deflated for good on May 4, 2010. 24 Hours' videographer Mark Yuen shot the definitive time-lapse video of the historic morning. Some of the material was shipped to Celista, a community near Kamloops, where it is now a liner for an outdoor hockey rink. The rest went to Minnesota for repurposing. Some of the material was kept for a B.C. Sports Hall of Fame fundraiser.

A German-engineered retractable system is being installed. Fall and winter winds have not been kind to the construction schedule. All 36 cable-support towers were supposed to be installed by the end of 2010, but the last three may not be done until Jan. 9. B.C. Pavilion Corporation is sticking to its "early fall" completion and subsequent opening. Chairman David Podmore said in November he'd have a better idea in March. An Aug. 20 construction committee document, however, says Nov. 1, 2011 is the estimate for "substantial completion." The Vanier Cup (Nov. 25) and Grey Cup (Nov. 27) are the only confirmed events.

The B.C. Lions and Vancouver Whitecaps are at the mercy of PavCo, which is ultimately at the mercy of construction-safe weather conditions. The Caps and Leos will both start their seasons at Empire Field but are selling tickets based on moving into B.C. Place in September.

UPDATE: B.C. Place reopened on Sept. 30, 2011. Documents show the stadium remained a construction site when 50,213 people were there. Area neighbours continue to complain about the bright lights from the Telus-installed advertising video screen at Terry Fox Plaza. The budget for the renovation was $563 million, but PavCo is stalling the release of several Freedom of Information requests that would show whether there are indeed major overruns. Two key contractors are suing each other for millions of dollars and, in the process, exposing the troubles of the renovation.

As for the roof? I shot photographs during the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' Grey Cup week practice on Nov. 25, 2011 -- the day after heavy rains hit the Vancouver area and caused more leaks. Notice the makeshift barriers of the area drenched by leaks from the new roof.

Vancouver was hit by heavy rains again Jan. 3-4. The same area of the B.C. Place field's east end was again cordoned off when I visited the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame on Jan. 5 (below). Construction workers in hardhats and safety vests were seen on the roof and ring beam around 11 a.m.

Similar leak problems dogged Frankfurt, Germany's Commerzbank Arena for many months after it opened in 2005 with a retractable roof system that inspired the B.C. Place renovation.

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