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Burnaby staff oppose plan to host pro tennis tournament with $1.5M price tag

Odlum Brown VanOpen's proposal to come to Burnaby would require a “significant city undertaking,” according to staff.
City staff in Burnaby, B.C., have recommended VanOpen's proposal to host a tournament in Burnaby be denied.

Burnaby city staff have recommended rejecting a proposal to host a professional tennis tournament this summer.

Organizers of the Odlum Brown VanOpen made a plea to Burnaby city council last month to bring the professional tournament to Burnaby venues from Aug. 12 to 19.

The tournament’s usual space, the Hollyburn Country Club in West Vancouver, is undergoing major renovations for the next two to three years.

VanOpen asked council for use of the 17 tennis courts at the public Burnaby Lake Sports Complex, in addition to space at Christine Sinclair Community Centre, as well as staff time for event coordination and $200,000 in grant money from the City of Burnaby and Province of B.C.

The tournament would host 13,000 spectators and 130 athletes from 35 countries, as well as 70 officials, a ball crew of 120 and about 130 volunteers.

Organizers vouched for benefits including a $250,000 food contract for the city, a boost to local hotel and hospitality industries, and the glamour of hosting world-class tennis with advertising for the city.

But staff say hosting the event would require a “significant city undertaking,” with a very tight time constraint, according to a report going to council this Monday.

Burnaby staff estimate the cost of hosting the tournament would be between $1.4 million to $1.8 million, including about $1.5 million in tennis court resurfacing and repair, labour, venues and food.

The city’s food services department could generate “a small profit,” according to the report, but would face difficulties with no kitchen facilities on a site that is “untested as an event venue.”

Staff also say a multiple community groups, including the Burnaby Lake Flyers, Vancouver Gaelic Games, Canada La Power, and B.C. Mainland Cricket would experience cancellations or rescheduled practices, though the Burnaby Tennis Club and Burnaby Lake Rugby Club expressed support for the event.

Council will vote to approve or reject the tournament on Monday, Feb. 6.