A new proposal to redevelop U of T’s Varsity Stadium site would double the capacity of the downtown athletic centre and provide much-needed new resources for Canada’s largest intramural and varsity athletics programs, university officials say.
U of T plans to commit $16 million toward the first stage of the $65-million proposal – enough to get construction started early next year, pending approval by the university’s Governing Council and municipal authorities.
Stage One involves a playing field, an eight-lane track and stadium seating for 5,000. Later phases may include the installation of a bubble-type structure over the field to allow year-round use, the construction of a three- or four-storey building at the south end of the site for athletic programs and the Faculty of Physical Education and Health, and renovations to Varsity Arena.
U of T Provost Vivek Goel presented the plan at a public meeting in March, where he addressed neighbours’ concerns about noise, lighting and traffic. Sue Dexter, representing both the Harbord Village Residents’ Association and the Annex Ratepayers’ Association, praised the plan. “The university should be applauded for rationality,” she said.
Athletics is the most popular form of co-curricular involvement at U of T, with 50 per cent of students participating in a sport or exercise. Still, Bruce Kidd, dean of the Faculty of Physical Education and Health, wants to encourage more students to be active. “Our goal is to give every student a chance to learn and participate in some physical activity while they’re here. That’s something that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”