VANCOUVER -- If a freak storm arrives unexpectedly over BC Place Stadium during the 2011 Grey Cup game, the teams could be playing in the rain while the fans remain dry.
This scenario, albeit an improbable one, emerged Monday with confirmation from BC Place general manager Howard Crosley that the stadium's new $458-million retractable roof will not be able to open or close in the rain.
"If a rainstorm catches us by surprise," Crosley said, the football Lions and the soccer Whitecaps will get wet.
But the 55,000 seats in the stadium will be covered.
"The fans will be protected by the fixed portion of the roof, whether it's open or closed," Crosley said.
"The only thing that is going to be affected potentially is the players on the field, and they're used to playing in open-air stadiums."
Stadium staff will monitor weather reports to determine whether to close or open the roof, added Crosley. The roof can be opened or closed in 20 minutes multiple times through a day.
The BC Place general manager said the retractable roof's fabric has folds that would collect water if it was opened or closed in the rain.
"You can't have those folds collect water," Crosley said, adding that the weight of the water could cause a tear in the fabric, called Tenara.
The stadium's revamp, the largest retrofit of its kind in the world, is scheduled to be completed next September, in plenty of time for the 2011 Grey Cup.
The inability to adjust the roof in the rain has never been a secret, Crosley said. The architects and engineers involved in the stadium revamp always knew the roof couldn't be opened or closed in the rain.
But questions from the media about the roof's operation during a rainstorm "never came up before," he added.
The roof also cannot be opened or closed in winds of 60 kilometres an hour or more.
The roof's limitations in wet weather are a result of the building's structure, which forced architects to choose a fabric rather than metal retractable roof.
The stadium "wasn't set up to handle the very significant weight of a metal retractable roof of the type you see in other stadiums," Crosley said.
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