Artist's rendering of what the new roof on BC Place, now delayed beyond its original completion date, would look like. (CBC) ((PavCo))

Completion of the new retractable roof for BC Place stadium is going to be delayed, but officials will not say when the $360-million refit might be finished or explain in detail why the original target date will not be met.

When asked Tuesday if the roof will be ready as planned for the summer of 2011, B.C. Tourism Minister Kevin Krueger said there had been some delays.

The project is so complex that the bidding process has been divided into 40 different bids, which has caused some slowdown, Krueger said, adding that now even those bids have been delayed.

"The bidders have agreed to hold their bids longer than originally anticipated," said Krueger.

He did not say why the companies interested in competing for the contracts had been asked not to submit their bids yet.

Krueger was asked if the delay had anything to do with difficulty funding the project during the recession.

"That's really the end of my expertise," he said.

Word of the delay came as a surprise late Tuesday to the Vancouver Whitecaps soccer team.

Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi told CBC News that as recently as Monday, nobody from BC Place said anything to the team about the completion date being put back.

The Whitecaps signed a five-year lease to play soccer there beginning in 2011, a decision Lenarduzzi said was based in part on the idea it would be an open air stadium.

The roof plan was unveiled in May 2008, as part of an overhaul of the 60,000-seat stadium in preparation for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, although it was acknowledged at the time that the retractable roof would not be ready in time for the Games.

The need to replace the white vinyl roof — held in place by air pressure higher than the outside environment — became apparent on Jan. 5, 2007, when it was accidentally over-inflated, ripped open and collapsed.