Cartmell is a sports fan and a structural engineer, so when it comes time to talk about the stadium’s future, those two interests collide. He offers up the analogy of Rogers Place and Calgary’s Saddledome, which opened in 1983 and is widely considered out of date, without the behind-the-scenes amenities and services people expect today. “Well, Commonwealth opened six years earlier, in that same era when an arena or stadium had a seating bowl and rather rudimentary changing areas and concessions and washrooms,” he says. “There was less focus on all the ancillary needs.”
The stadium’s bowl is fine, with good sightlines and reasonable proximity to the action, although fans watching from the nosebleeds might disagree. But Cartmell says that if Commonwealth is to compete with other stadiums, it needs modern concession spaces and washrooms and better behind-the-scenes spaces for performers, whether that’s green rooms for entertainment acts or locker rooms for sports teams. Upgrades might also include a new scoreboard and a secondary scoreboard. Cartmell also suggests partnerships with third parties for food and drink. “If you go to a baseball stadium today you see offerings from all of those places you might patronize outside the stadium,” he says.
Cui, who has worked on major sports events around the world for decades, says he’s already over any disappointment he felt about FIFA’s decision. “I’ve seen this storyline so many times,” he says. “I’ve been part of cities and bids that win and lose and that’s part of the game.” But he says he thinks we have the model wrong. He says with a unique asset like Commonwealth, we should have events competing to come here. To do that, the three levels of government have to be aligned on the benefits that would flow to a rights-holder that brings an event here. “If you package that right and put it out to the world, there are hundreds of events that want a home and would want this,” he says, “especially in a city that has a reputation of delivering sold out stadiums to international events and a big volunteer base.”