British Columbia

BC Place roof drops in final deflation

The giant white roof of Vancouver's BC Place is deflated one last time on Tuesday, so construction can start on its retractable replacement.

The giant white roof of Vancouver's BC Place was deflated one last time on Tuesday, so construction could start on its retractable replacement.

The deflation began just after 11 a.m. PT and took about an hour, with some of the best views of the event from the Cambie Street Bridge and by Science World near Main Street.

The iconic roof, which has often been compared to a giant marshmallow on the city's skyline, was first inflated in 1982 when the 63,000-seat stadium opened.

The last time the roof was deflated was in January 2007, when a tear in the Teflon-coated fabric caused the air pressure inside the stadium to drop, allowing the roof to collapse.

That led to a decision by the provincial government, which owns and operates the stadium through the B.C. Pavilion Corp., to replace the roof with a $458-million retractable version, one of the largest of its kind in the world.

The fabric from the old roof, which is made from a product called ETFE, will be recycled into tarps, movie screens, billboards and even handbags, according to project organizers.

The stadium is scheduled to reopen in the summer of 2011, when the new roof is completed.

As part of the redevelopment of the stadium area, the province has also struck a deal for a new $450-million casino and hotel to be built in one the parking lots on the southeast side of the stadium.

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