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An artist's rendition of the proposed retractable roof at BC Place shows the Vancouver Whitecaps soccer team on the field. ((PavCo))

The B.C. government has signed off on a plan to build a new $458-million retractable roof for BC Place stadium after the close of the 2010 Winter Games.

Once completed, the roof will be the largest cable-supported, fully retractable fabric roof in the world, measuring more than four hectares in surface area, according to a statement released on Friday morning.

The design allows for the fabric roof to retract into the centre of the roof opening and be hidden inside a suspended, four-sided electronic video board — without compromising sightlines. The roof will be able to open or close within 20 minutes, officials said.

The project will be completed by the summer of 2011, in time for that year's Grey Cup, said David Podmore, chair of the BC Pavilion Corp., the Crown company that runs the stadium for the provincial government.

Provincial loan to cover costs

PavCo signed a fixed-priced contract for the new retractable roof with PCL Constructors Canada Inc., provincial Tourism and Culture Minister Kevin Krueger said Friday morning.

The roof will be paid for with a 40-year $458 million loan to PavCo from the province, as part of its capital plan funding, but Krueger did not provide further details on the funding arrangement.

"A new retractable roof will allow PavCo to attract a broader range of sporting and entertainment events and continue to host the province's largest consumer shows and cultural events that benefit Vancouver and our entire province," Krueger said.

"It will also allow us to provide a revitalized home to the BC Lions and allow for the establishment of the first season of the Vancouver Whitecaps as a Major League Soccer franchise in 2011."

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The artist's rendering of what the new roof on BC Place would look like also includes two new condomium towers and a new Vancouver Art Gallery on the waterfront. ((PavCo))

"This investment in our future is expected to create 3,000 person-years of employment and ensure British Columbia has a world-class stadium for decades to come," Krueger said.

The retractable roof will also cut energy costs by $350,000 annually, and a further $100,000 a year will be saved through operational streamlining, officials said.

Details of construction timing will be announced in the coming weeks.

Collapse led to replacement plan

The need to replace the white, puffy marshmallow roof that has dominated the city's skyline became apparent in January 2007, when the Teflon-coated covering tore open and collapsed, leaving the fabric flapping in the wind.

The 60,000-seat stadium located on the eastern edge of downtown Vancouver was built by the province in 1983.

BC Pavilion Corp. has previously proposed to raise funds for the re-development of the facility by developing condominiums and a new Vancouver Art Gallery on vacant land it owns adjacent to the stadium.