Women’s World Cup: Edmonton debates Commonwealth funding By Steven Sandor Posted on November 1, 2012 0 0 478 Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Commonwealth Stadium Edmonton City Council debated a proposed $10.7 million upgrade to Commonwealth Stadium for the Women’s World Cup — but did not vote on allocating money towards the project. There were more questions than answers at the council meeting. Councillors wanted to know why the new $10.7 million plan was presented to them as one large package, rather than portioned into “need to have” and “nice to have” components. They wanted to know what FIFA requires of World Cup hosts. And they were told the only necessary item was a $1.5 million upgrade to provide the four dressing rooms and doping control facilities as required by FIFA. The new plan would see the CFL visitors dressing room converted into two dressing rooms and additional rooms to be found in the facility’s existing space. The dressing room for the CFL Eskimos was not part of the proposal, and Mayor Stephen Mandel told reporters that he wants to know why it can’t be used. If the Eskimos simply don’t want to share, he said he “has no sympathy” for that position. “Do they have a game that night?” he said in a scrum with reporters. Mayor Mandel had previously voiced his displeasure over administration’s original recommendation, a nearly $21-million plan which would have seen new dressing rooms constructed and a new southwest portion of the stadium erected. And, as council debated how to find the other $9.2 million for the nice-to-have items like a new sound system, Jumbotron and newly paved parking lots, there was talk about a user pay system. Right now, there is a five per cent surcharge on Commonwealth tickets to pay for newer, wider seats at the facility. But councilors talked about a user-pay system for the paving and audio and video systems — as some of those benefits will also spill over to the Eskimos outside of the two FIFA tournaments, the 2014 U-20 Women’s World Cup and the 2015 Women’s World Cup. “The ticket surcharge? Up it,” suggested Coun. Kim Krushell. “Why not look at different ways of funding these (Jumbotron and paving)?” asked Coun. Amarjeet Sohi. Administration said the work doesn’t have to be done right away, as the improvements aren’t needed till 2014. But Edmonton is continuing to debate what to do with Commonwealth, while Vancouver has newly renovated BC Place and has just announced plans for a $32 million training facility. Ottawa and Winnipeg will have new stadiums. The Canadian Soccer Association did not have representation at council and has so far refused to publicly comment on the Edmonton debate. There will be question, though, at what point the city’s stance on Commonwealth will hurt its chances to host big-name games. Mayor Mandel said the city has spent heavily on past Commonwealth improvements, including the newly opened fitness centre that adjoins the stadium. But a debate over dressing rooms might be the thing that ensures Edmonton could go from a prime hosting site to a city that won’t see marquee match-ups.