(Photo: pixabay.com)

Canadian Premier League soccer franchise pitches new outdoor stadium plan in Surrey

‘A facility like this has been on our radar for some time,’ says Coun. Hayne

SURREY — Potential franchise operators with the new Canadian Premier League want to build and operate an “outdoor spectator stadium” on city-owned land here.

The CPL is currently working with ownership groups to establish professional soccer franchises in key markets across Canada, according to league spokesperson Greg McIsaac.

“We can confirm a group of local business leaders have submitted a proposal to the City of Surrey representing a future franchise in the Lower Mainland,” McIsaac told the Now-Leader in an email on Thursday morning.

“The proposal includes the potential development of a soccer-specific stadium. The group is also exploring other municipalities in the Fraser Valley concurrently.

“The CPL is very excited about the possibility of establishing a successful pro soccer franchise in the Fraser Valley, as we, along with the ownership group, feel it is a great market to support a team.

“The specific terms of the formal proposal remain confidential at this time.”

• READ MORE: A new era in Canadian professional soccer begins, CPL press release from May 2017.

At bcbid.gov.bc.ca, the City of Surrey has posted an e-advertisement for Request for Expressions of Interest and Statements of Qualifications, or RFEOI/SOQ.

The post does not indicate what pro sport would be played in the facility, nor what size the stadium might be.

At this point, the process is intended to “establish a shortlist of preferred respondents with the required expertise, capabilities and resources to perform various works associated with design, construct, finance and operate an outdoor spectator stadium (in Surrey) on a sustainable basis,” the e-advertisement states.

The facility would be built on city land, but the proponent would design, construct, finance and operate it, according to Surrey Councillor Bruce Hayne, chair of the city’s Parks, Recreation and Sport Tourism Committee.

“A facility like this has been on our radar for some time,” Hayne told the Now-Leader. “We have wonderful facilities in this city, for our residents, and we have spent a great deal of time and money and effort in developing sport facilities for residents, in all areas of sport, but what we don’t have is any kind of facility that could host a few thousand spectators for something that would be of national interest or something like that – some kind of sporting event or anything that would have provincial or national interest, so it would be terrific for the city to have a spectator facility of that size or that scope.”

Hayne added: “I will put myself down as optimistic that something like this could actually occur.”

According to the post at bcbid.com, the City of Surrey has identified “potential land sites that may become available for lease.”

Hayne said the city has helped identify “several places” in Surrey that might work as a stadium site, but would not get into specifics.

“We want the proponent to tell us what works best for them,” he said. “Maybe the business model is for a stadium built next to SkyTrain, for example, or maybe they want a lot of parking space because they know a lot of people would be driving there from the Fraser Valley.”

As a condition, those wanting to get involved in the RFEOI/SOQ process must sign a confidentiality agreement in order to receive more details from the city, with a deadline of 4 p.m. on Oct. 16.

Hayne said the city was approached “unsolicited by a group that wants to do something in Surrey, and they were, or maybe still are, looking at several different municipalities, but their preference is to do something in Surrey.

He continued: “It’s against the municipal act, basically, to offer one specific company or organization a benefit and not make it sort of industry-wide, or whatever that might be. If city land is going to be involved, we can’t just go ahead with a sole source and say, ‘Oh, that’s a great idea, let’s go.’ We have to put it out for a request for expressions of interest.”

A similar process was employed when Surrey Tennis Centre was built two years ago on 144th St.

“With that,” Hayne said, “those folks came to us and said they’d like to do a public-private partnership on a big tennis facility, and we said, ‘OK, great, sounds good, but we have to go out and ask if anybody else would like to do this.’ It turned out, when we put out the RFQ, that no one else came forward, and they provided a good solid bid, and we were able to move forward with them. This would be very similar to that proposal, that process.”

• READ MORE: Marathon opening for Surrey Tennis Centre, from Dec. 1, 2015.

As for a process timeline, Hayne said evaluation time is needed by the city.

“The timeline would be by December or early January for us to have received and evaluated the proposals,” he said. “If there’s something that would make sense, we would then enter into more detailed negotiations and discussion with a shortlisted or preferred proponent.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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