Richardson under review

Students concerned University prioritizes profit over experience

An image of potential plans for the revitalization of Richardson Stadium.
Image by: Supplied
An image of potential plans for the revitalization of Richardson Stadium.

University officials presented updated plans for the new Richardson Stadium at an open meeting Wednesday as part of their consultation process with stakeholders.

Some of the key features of the new stadium will be a new Jumbotron scoreboard, better lighting, a new turf field and an admission system that will swipe student cards, according to Ann Tierney, vice-provost and dean of student affairs; John Witjes, associate vice-principal of facilities; and Leslie Dal Cin, executive director of Athletics and Recreation, who chaired the meeting.

In February, the University hosted a meeting for West Campus neighbours to voice their concerns about the stadium’s design. University officials also appeared earlier this month for a special meeting of AMS Assembly, and will hold a public meeting this Tuesday before returning to the AMS again on April 2.

“As a result of feedback we have received on design, adjustments have been made in the areas of accessibility, enhancing access, increased social and mixing zones, and increasing access to food and beverage,” Dal Cin told The Journal via email.

Plans for the use and operation of the new stadium are still ongoing discussions, she added, including logistics for the athletes, coaches, officials, media, cheerleaders, Highland dancers, security and others.

“Right now our priority is talking to people and gathering as much feedback as possible,” she said.

The need for a student section is another issue Dal Cin said is still being discussed.

“We have heard from some students that they would like to have a student section where all students could sit together, which is why one option might be to have a student section in the south end zone,” she said.

“We do also have a business plan that requires us to sell as many premium tickets as possible, so we’re looking at ways to do that while still ensuring that students play a major role in the stadium’s atmosphere.”

Rector Mike Young raised concerns about the student section potentially being shafted by an emphasis on revenue. He said he strongly opposes the idea of students being pushed out of premium seating for the big games and into less appealing seats.

Young added that if the student environment is important, like University officials said it would be, then students need to be in seats where they can stay engaged.

The mention of garnering revenue from the stadium also had Eric MacPherson, a member of Queen’s Bands, uneasy about the consulting process.

“This sort of feels more like a ‘fait accompli’, where [they’re] only doing this so that [we] feel consulted,” said MacPherson, ArtSci ’15, adding the business focus could take away from student engagement from sporting events.

“Instead of this focus on driving revenue, we could instead say, ‘Okay, let’s design a stadium to accommodate the student-driven traditions we already have’,” he added, “instead of, ‘let’s design a model and find little spaces for [students] within our new model’.”

MacPherson said he worries the new design doesn’t accommodate any space for Bands to engage the entire student section from the field. Currently, Bands stands on the track surrounding the field, in front of the stands.

He added that traditions like the field rush will be lost, only to become “something they’ll hear in one ear” if the band ends up in the stands.

The next open meeting will be Tuesday, March 31 from 6:30 – 8 p.m. in room 101 of School of Kinesiology and Health Studies.


development, Football, richardson stadium

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