General Motors Place, Vancouver's new downtown arena, was developed and built by Orca Bay Sports & Entertainment. It is the first privately funded arena built in Canada since Maple Leaf Gardens opened its doors in Toronto in 1931.
Official groundbreaking took place on July 13, 1993, but the construction project was formally commissioned on December 23, 1993. GM Place is now fully operational at its prime downtown location on the north shoreline of False Creek, between the Georgia Street and Dunsmuir Street viaducts and neighboring BC Place Stadium.
More than 75,000 visitors took a tour of the building on September 17, 1995, during Orca Bay's Community Open House. Just two days later, Vancouver native Bryan Adams stepped up to the microphone before a sold out audience of 16,944 to open the first concert at General Motors Place.
On September 21, Orca Bay officially launched the building with "HORIZONS: An Inaugural Celebration." This event demonstrated the versatility and intimate feel of General Motors Place, and featured such artists as Shania Twain, Blue Rodeo, David Foster, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Michelle Wright, The Nylons, Sue Medley, Sarah McLaachlan, Bass is Base, Ashley Macissac, the British Columbia Boys' Choir, the Vancouver Bach Choir and figure skaters Kurt Browning and Kristi Yamaguchi. Members of the Vancouver Grizzlies, flanked by the Grizzlies Extreme Dance Team, walked onto the stage amid cheers of new fans, and the Vancouver Canucks surprised the evening's guests by skating on the ice.
The basketball floor in GM Place is made of 210 four-by-eight pieces of hardwood maple, and is installed over inch-thick insulation on top of the hockey ice surface. The outer edge has a locking bolt mechanism, and the inside pieces are connected with a hinge-pin system. The center jump circle contains just one large-sized Grizzlies' logo, and the word "Grizzlies" runs along each baseline. The entire area inside the three-piont arc, except the lane, is shaded Pacific Turquoise, the Grizzlies' primary color.
* Ground Breaking: July 13, 1993
* Construction Commissioning: December 23, 1993
* Name Unveiling: March 29, 1994
* Opening Date: September 21, 1995
* First Concert: September 18, 1995
* First Hockey Game: Anaheim Mighty Ducks (pre-season), September 23, 1995
* First Basketball Game: Portland Trail Blazers (pre-season), October 13, 1995
Directions to Orca Bay's General Motors Place
(From Vancouver International Airport) Exit airport via Arthur Laing Bridge and take the Marine Drive East off-ramp. Travel on Marine Drive approximately one mile. Make a left onto Cambie Street and travel north for about 5 miles towards downtown Vancouver. Cross the Cambie Bridge and take the Pacific Boulevard East exit. Stay on Pacific Boulevard to the arena.
Source: Orca Bay
SALE OF GRIZZLIES KEEPS GM PLACE IN MCCAW'S HANDS
September 30, 1999
Copyright 1999 MediaVentures
The sale of the NBA Vancouver Grizzlies to Bill and Nancy Laurie of Missouri will keep GM Place and the NHL Canucks in the hands of John McCaw's Orca Bay Sports Entertainment. McCaw had earlier put the entire package up for sale saying he could no longer afford the losses. The team was sold for a reported $200 million and reportedly lost $20 million last season.
The Lauries recently purchased the Kiel Center in St. Louis and the NHL Blues for $100 million. Speculation ran high that the Lauries would move the NBA team to St. Louis, but Laurie denied that was his plan. Bill Laurie said after the Kiel Center purchase several weeks ago that he hoped to bring an NBA team to the city. Laurie would not guarantee that he would not move the Grizzlies, but said that was not why he purchased the team. NBA rules would likely prohibit such a move for at least two seasons and an application would have to be made to the league by March 1 of the year in which the team planned to move. The team's expansion agreement prohibits an application until May 15.
THE ULTIMATE SPORTS ROAD TRIP
By: Andrew Kulyk & Peter Farrell
March 28, 2001 &
|General Motors Place Ranking by USRT|
|Fan Support|| 7|
|Concourses/Fan Comfort|| 6|
|Bonus: Three Level Brewery|| 2|
|Bonus: Serenading Saxophonist|| 1|
|Bonus: 30-year Canucks Display|| 1|
|Total Score|| 64|
March 29, 2001 - General Motors Place, opened in 1995, is the home for both the Canucks and Grizzlies, and is situated along the edge of downtown and right next door to BC Place Stadium, home of the CFL British Columbia Lions. The topography of the neighborhood is such that the arena is located at the bottom of a hill, yet access to the downtown core is easy for pedestrians, who can walk across any of two bridges which leads them to an entrance at the 300 level of the building. In addition, there is a subway line which is right adjacent to the arena. The area is typical of any Canadian city - clean, bright, with hotels, pubs and attractions within walking distance, kind of a smaller version of Toronto.
Upon entering the arena (we walked in at the 300 level), our first attention was drawn to the abundance of glass, providing plentiful views to the outside. Concourses are laid out into two primary levels - the 100s and the 300s, with neon signs marking the sections as well as the marquees of the concession stands. There is a separate small concourse for the suite level right above the 100s.
Laid out in two levels, the bowl is colored in wine red seats, and is centered by an 8 sided scoreboard with 4 jumbotron boards and colored dot matrix boards, as well as changeable ad panels above and beneath the boards themselves. Along the sidelines are stationary ad panels, dot matrix boards, and scrolling out of town scoreboards displaying NHL and NBA scores. Probably the most dramatic signature piece of the arena bowl are two huge ad panels advertising Molson Canadian beer. They hang high above each end zone, have a black background with red and blue neon graphics, and can change configurations from hockey to basketball depending on who's playing. Very cool!!!
The "Air Canada" club (this has got to be a Canadian NHL arena thing!) is located along one sideline in the 100 level. The "club" itself takes up a portion of the 100 level concourse, therefore total access around the lower level is impeded. Other than a sparse seating area and the same old concession stands you can find in the rest of the arena, there was nothing else to this premium area. Pretty ordinary! Up at the top of the arena is the "Orca Bay Grill". Straddling across the entire sideline, one can buy tables for four with a view of the playing surface. There is also a full service bar and additional seating areas as well as a merchandise stand. Cool memorabilia on the walls.
The Concourses and Concessions
Here is our biggest gripe with the place. The concourses are tight and congested, and the traffic flow around the building is impeded, partly because the 100 level doesn't have full access around the bowl due to the location of the club concourse. Second, there are NO escalators, and only two tight staircases to take you from the 100s to the 300s. At the end of the games, these stairwells were mobbed with people trying to get upstairs and to the bridges to walk downtown, What a terrible design!
Nothing on the menu stands out here, but there is an in house microbrewery, Rickard's, which straddles all three levels of the building, and fans can view exhibits on each level which explain the art of beer making. Rickard's beer is produced, kegged, and then sold right in the building, and there are pubs adjacent to the glassed in vats on each level. At the Grizzlies game they were passing out 6 oz samples of Rickard's Gold every third section. If one wanted to, one could just keep walking, sampling, tossing the cup, and could get crocked after one pass around the 300s! There is a terrific two level team store down in the 100s (Grizzlies merchandise was 40% off).
The coolest thing the Canucks do is bring out a saxophonist, of all things, during a couple of TV timeouts, to play songs like "Tequila". He walks up and down the stairs in the 100s, and this is about the only thing that got the hockey crowd jacked up on this night. Kind of reminded us of the electric violinist in Montreal.
Former Canucks great Stan Smyl is the one Canuck whose number is retired. The ONE banner that is missing here is Vancouver's crowning achievement in hockey, that being the Vancouver Millionaires 1915 Stanley Cup championship. Also to be noted is a handsome display wall honoring the 30 greatest Canucks, and was done to commemorate the franchise's 30th anniversary. The display is located in the 300 level, and was so well received that they decided to leave it up.
Save the Grizzlies!
The game we attended was the first Grizzlies home game since the "formal" announcement that the franchise had asked the NBA to relocate to Memphis. Needless to say, emotions were running high. The fans and the people we spoke to expressed their frustrations about the owner's duplicity, the lack of success on the court, the weak Canadian dollar, and that Vancouver was never given a chance to succeed as an NBA city. With a large Asian population, the team markets heavily to this demographic base. The Grizzlies also have the distinction of being the first team to broadcast its play by play in 3 different languages - English, Spanish and Mandarin! On the night we attended, Grizzlies fans were pumped - the team absolutely demolished the Knicks, the electricity and enthusiasm was really exciting, yet a poignant reminder that moments like these may soon come to an end in Vancouver. And in the midst of all this was the rumor that a local investor was on the horizon to save the day and keep the Grizzlies here in town.