There is a new movement to build a large indoor stadium in Surrey that could host major sports events and concerts and compete with other similar venues in the region.
Inde Sumal, the President & CEO of Lighthouse Capital, a Vancouver-based private equity firm, is leading a group that wants to build a new arena with about 10,000 seats in the municipality.
It would be home to a hockey team and host concerts, festivals, and other community events, and its facilities would include restaurants and other entertainment amenities that such arenas are known for.
He says Surrey’s population is not much smaller than Vancouver’s, yet it does not have a suitable indoor stadium. The latest statistics peg Vancouver’s population at over 630,000 while Surrey’s population is just under 520,000, albeit spread over a much larger geographical area.
“I think the City of Surrey is definitely mature enough to keep an arena of that size busy,” Sumal told Daily Hive.
“Right now if you’re looking at bringing in a concert or event of sorts, you’d need to travel to Langley or Vancouver, even though there is lots of transit available in the City of Surrey to move people from Vancouver into Surrey to watch a show or game.”
Sumal notes his group is in preliminary discussions with the City of Surrey on a number of possible locations. Although he was not able to disclose the sites being evaluated, he noted that proximity to rapid transit is key and considerations are also being given to the amount of parking required for such a venue.
“The feedback from the City of Surrey has been very good,” he continued. “In our preliminary discussions, they are a very good partner and very open to the idea in an accommodating way.”
“We have not singled out where the arena will fit, where it will go, where it will be constructed, but these discussions just started a few months ago. The discussions have been very healthy and the City of Surrey has been very accommodating to the concept.”
As for detailed cost estimates and funding, Sumal emphasized it is still “very difficult” to determine at this early stage of the process, but he believes it will range between $150 million and $250 million. However, the final cost entirely depends on the finalized location, size, scope, amenities, and other adjacent buildings and facilities – such as retail and a hotel – that could add value to the venue.
But an indoor stadium of this size would likely be many years away.
In the City of Surrey’s recently approved 2027 Parks, Recreation, and Culture Strategic Plan, which outlines $357 million in investments in parks, community, and recreational facilities, and new arts and culture destinations, there is no mention of a new indoor stadium.
Surrey’s largest indoor arena is currently the 1,200-seat capacity South Surrey Arena at South Surrey Athletic Park, where a new rugby field and covered soccer field are planned. The municipal government is simultaneously exploring suitable sites for a new outdoor stadium – likely with a capacity of under 5,000 seats – that could host soccer matches for the new Canadian Premier League.
As Sumal suggested, a new venue offering Surrey with this scale of events hosting capability could compete with venues located in other areas of the Lower Mainland.
Smaller events that may be too large for Rogers Arena or even BC Place Stadium and the Vancouver Convention Centre could be located in the new Surrey arena.
And Davis Cup tennis matches and concerts held at UBC’s Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre and Cirque du Soleil’s arena-sized productions and Disney On Ice shows staged at the PNE’s Pacific Coliseum could be enticed to go to Surrey instead.
Perhaps it could even become the new home of the WHL Vancouver Giants, which relocated from Pacific Coliseum to Langley Events Centre in 2016.
It would also be large enough to host an AHL hockey team, as the 7,000-seat Abbotsford Centre did for five years. The Vancouver Canucks’ agreement with their AHL affiliate in Utica expires after next season.
If Sumal’s capacity vision holds, the proposed Surrey venue would be the largest facility of its kind in the Lower Mainland after Rogers Arena and Pacific Coliseum. Here are the hockey mode capacities of existing large indoor arenas in BC:
“My group feels that the City of Surrey is definitely a place we want to be. It is growing and has a very progressive municipal government, and we’re excited to do something there,” he added. “I’m born and raised there so I’m definitely biased to the City of Surrey.”