When City of Langford Mayor Stew Young was a teenager, he remembers only one arena down at the Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre. Overall, when it came to recreation opportunities, “it wasn’t that good in Langford.”
Fast-forward about four decades and Young, along with City staff and contractors, is busy preparing for “the biggest sporting event opening Langford has ever had.” On Saturday, Aug. 24, before the Pacific FC home game, they host the grand opening of the newly expanded Westhills Stadium at City Centre Park.
Home to the Premier League soccer team, which approached the City in spring 2018, as well as Rugby Canada and the Westshore Rebels football team, the stadium has undergone significant upgrades costing about $8.8 million since Langford City Counil approved the expansion last July.
Once complete, the expanded stadium will accommodate 6,000 spectators in the purple or white plastic seats that were added to the new and existing grandstands, on the folding bleachers on the field, or in one of 18 VIP suites.
|The new VIP suites added to Westhills Stadium feature windows that easily open and close, televisions that play the ongoing game for instant replays, and expanded outdoor space with filled-in railings.|
The new purple and white plastic seats and VIP suites are situated in three new, pre-manufactured grandstands from Italian designer BEAR Stadiums and supplier Rubner Holzbau. Approximately 38 containers were shipped to local architects, engineers and construction staff over a four-month time frame and since the Pacific FC season kicked off on April 28, fans have watched the facilities expand.
Grandstand A, one of three new roofed grandstands, has been in use since the team’s first home game. As a result, City staff have been able to collect feedback from fans and players, and tweak construction plans as they continue to work up to the opening deadline.
|The City had to install a new fire suppression system at Westhills Stadium due to the increased occupancy as a result of the expansion. (Karissa Gall/News Staff)|
For example, after Pacific FC painted its team name on the existing, concrete stand that was constructed about 10 years ago, the City decided to also paint a white maple leaf on the new Grandstand C, on the west side of the grounds. At first, they just painted the purple chairs white, before realizing they would also have to paint the grey concrete between the seats to achieve the desired effect.
Grandstand C will be the last grandstand completed, but that was where the renovations and additions all started in November 2018.
Peat in the area, which is near a pond, had to be excavated and replaced with rapidly-impacted rock. It took about three months to get down to the required compaction.
The area around the pond will be paved with bricks for a family fun zone that will include metal picnic tables, lamps with speakers and Wi-Fi portals, a 25 foot by 16 foot stage, and one of the two new concession stands. Depending on the event, there may be musical performances on the stage in the zone, or food trucks or a bouncy castle.
|The area behind the new Grandstand C on the west side of the field will be the Family FUN Zone, with one of two new concessions, seating, a stage and more. Mayor Stew Young said that when a climbing facility is also constructed in the area it will be integrated with the zone. (Karissa Gall/News Staff)|
Come fall of next year, there may also be a climbing wall, because “that’s going to be an Olympic sport next year,” Young said, and a Boulderhouse Climbing Gym is planned for integration with the zone.
|New additions to the north side of the field at Westhills Stadium include a beer garden, food truck hookups, a DJ area, wooden platforms for broadcasters, a 10-foot fence and flags. (Karissa Gall/News Staff)|
Similar to the west side of the grounds, almost everything on the north side was added during the expansion.
After receiving approvals from BC Hydro, a beer garden has been added with hookups for food trucks, picnic tables and a DJ area. Wooden platforms were also constructed for broadcasters, and a 10-foot fence was installed as well as flags.
|The new grandstands at Westhills Stadium could be framed in to create additional space in the future, for VIP suites, offices and more. (Karissa Gall/News Staff)|
Elsewhere on the grounds, new washrooms were added as well as four water bottle filling stations, two new dressing rooms with skylights, and increased parking. More could be added in the future, too; if needed, the new grandstands could be framed in to create upper flooring.
|Two new dressing rooms with skylights have been added to Westhills Stadium as part of its expansion. (Karissa Gall/News Staff)|
Located adjacent to the grounds will be the new Sarah Beckett Memorial Playground, which opens on the same day as the expanded stadium. Behind the playground, Young said a Boxing BC training facility and gym will also be added.
|Four water bottle filling stations have been added to Westhills Stadium as part of its expansion. (Karissa Gall/News Staff)|
“It’s not just stopping with the stadium,” he said. “We’ll now make sure that stuff around the stadium is exciting.”
Once complete, he said the gym will host boxing events, too.
“To have a Boxing BC facility right in Langford, you’ll see some really high-level boxing,” he said. “People will come as they did when we had the Super Channel [Championships].”
Pacific FC and Rugby Canada have expressed pleasure and pride in their new home stadium.
“Westhills Stadium provides one of the most intimate football [soccer] specific atmospheres in the country,” said Pacific FC president Josh Simpson. “It has been a pleasure working with the City of Langford to make this dream a reality.”
Gareth Rees, director of commercial and program relations for Rugby Canada, echoed Simpson’s sentiments.
“Rugby Canada is very proud of its world-class Center of Excellence based in Langford,” Rees said. “The revamped stadium facility at Westhills now means our events and matches can go to another level and provide a richer environment for athletes and fans alike.”
Ultimately, the expanded stadium and park facilities are meant to increase recreation opportunities and revenue for the community, Young said.
“Langford is now a name that people can relate to great recreation facilities and good athletes as well,” he said. “The opportunities for sports make people move to Langford now.”
|Pacific FC is building a new indoor training facility on City-owned land at Kettle Creek, which Mayor Stew Young hopes will make Langford a year-round recreation destination.|
The grand opening of Westhills Stadium on Aug. 24 starts at 1 p.m., with gates opening at the Langford Parkway entrance, along with the fan zone, food trucks and beer garden. Tickets are required for entrance. At 2 p.m. the gates at the Glen Lake Road entrance open and at 2:30 p.m. there will be opening ceremonies, including speeches by Premier John Horgan and Young. At 3 p.m. the Pacific FC game kicks off against Valour FC of Winnipeg.