Telus loses B.C. Place naming rights bid

CEO 'deeply disappointed with this decision'

The B.C. Place Stadium name game is over.

The stadium, built for $126 million in 1983 and renovated for at least $563 million in 2011, will not be rechristened for Telus.

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The telecommunications giant spent $10 million to $15 million installing video screens and mobile phone and wifi antennas and negotiated a sponsorship contract worth $40 million last year. Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation, announced the deal was off Wednesday, claiming it did not provide best value for taxpayers. Telus CEO Darren Entwistle called the governments move regrettable.

We are deeply disappointed with this decision, Entwistle said.

B.C. Pavilion Corporation forwarded its recommendation to cabinet last spring. At the end of July, chairman David Podmore said an announcement was expected around mid-September. The stadium opened on schedule Sept. 30 and hosted the 99th Grey Cup on Nov. 27, but the name remained the same.

PavCo was so close to announcing Telus as the naming sponsor that it paid $60,510 for Telus marquee signage footing and reinforced steel and $30,277 to remove the B.C. Place sign last August. Stadium workers were finally issued uniforms last month with the new B.C. Place logo, unveiled in September, to replace the generic clothing issued last summer.

Entwistle publicized Teluss involvement in the project for the first time on March 2 and conceded that Telus remained in talks to be designated an official supplier.

The stadium renovation business plan has never been published because it was deemed a cabinet document. Podmore constantly claimed the sale of naming rights and land leases would help defray the cost. Paragon Gaming is allowed to relocate Edgewater Casino, but the project is on hold after Vancouver city council quashed the expansion bid last year.

The stadium, however, could have a bigger problem. Grease leaking from the roof support cables has damaged the fabric and a B.C. Supreme Court judge heard Tuesday that the cost to repair it may be as high as $10 million.

Cable installer Freyssinet sued Canam for almost $6.5 million on Oct. 31, 2011. Steel contractor Canam responded with a $26.15 million counterclaim on Nov. 18, 2011. An 85-day trial is expected to begin in October 2013. Leaks were discovered in November 2010. Supplier Geobrugg claimed in a Sept. 9, 2011 report that lubricant was used to protect interior steel wires from corrosion.

Podmore did not respond to interview requests. B.C. Place spokesman Duncan Blomfield said CEO Warren Buckley was unavailable because he was travelling. Blomfield claimed lubricant stains are unnoticeable without close inspection and he estimated the cost of repairs at less than $1 million.

This excess lubricant is a contractor deficiency and all costs associated with cleaning and repair are the contractors costs not PavCos cost as it is a fixed price contract, Blomfield said.

Canam was hired as a $122 million subcontractor by PCL Constructors Westcoast. Canam, in turn, hired Freyssinet for $30 million. In April 2011, Canam blamed a $25 million cost overrun on Freyssinet. Troubles with the cable installation delayed application of the roof fabric to July 2011, which hindered Teluss installation schedule.

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