The UVic Centennial Stadium (UVic file photo)

UVic Centennial Stadium rebuild gets big boost

Feds donated $254,000 to the university to help revamp the track.

University of Victoria athletes and runners alike will be happy to hear Centennial Stadium is getting a new surface, thanks to a $254,000 federal grant.

Work began Monday (July 17) on the $694,000 project, with completion anticipated by mid-August. The track’s renewal is a priority project for the university, as it is the primary track facility for the Greater Victoria community and is enjoyed by elite athletes, as well as school children, teams and clubs.

“The Canada 150 Community Infrastructure Program has been instrumental in supporting so many communities as they upgrade essential infrastructure,” said Navdeep Bains, minister of innovation, science and economic development. “I am proud that we have been able to support the University of Victoria’s efforts to upgrade the track at Centennial Stadium, ensuring that it will remain a valuable asset for the university and wider community well into the future.”

The program is part of Canada 150 Celebrates, with $92.4 million being delivered over a two-year period in the western provinces through Western Economic Diversification Canada.

No doubt, the investment will extend the overall lifespan of the track for many more generations to enjoy, said Clint Hamilton, director of UVic Vikes Athletics and Recreation.

“The support from the program is going to ensure that both the legacy of excellence previously achieved and yet to be achieved can continue for our entire Vikes community for many years to come,” he said.

The stadium’s initial infrastructure was built in 1967 with support from the federal government as part of its centennial celebrations and is Victoria’s main attraction for hosting high-profile sporting events. The track was replaced in 1987.

In 1994, the 5,000-seat stadium was refurbished in preparation for the Commonwealth Games. The stadium hosted the opening ceremonies and athletics events and has since been the venue for other major events including the 2000 B.C. Summer Games, the 2000 and 2004 Canadian Track and Field Olympic trials, the 2003 FIFA Under-19 Women’s World Cup Tournament and the Annual International Track Classic. The facility was also used for several Canadian University National Soccer Championships, including the men’s in 2011 and the women’s in 2012.

“It’s a significant win for the community as well in terms of the user groups and the community members that use the track on a daily basis just for personal training,” said Michelle Peterson, associate director of finance and operations with Vikes Athletics and Recreation, adding that maintenance teams will first power wash the track, fix any bubbling surface issues, then lay out a new track on top of it.

The stadium is also home to the UVic varsity soccer and cross country programs, as well as the Pacific Athletics Track and Field Club and Victoria Track and Field Club. Its facilities are also enjoyed by hundreds of families every year for school track-and-field competitions and young aspiring athletes, as well as community sporting events.

Playteck Enterprises has been awarded the contract to supply and install the resurfacing system.