The City of Langford says it was blindsided by this week’s announcement that the B.C. Lions will play a Canadian Football League game in Victoria next year instead of at Langford’s Starlight Stadium.
The Lions will play the Ottawa Red Blacks at Royal Athletic Park on Aug. 31 in the CFL’s first Touchdown Pacific game.
The City of Victoria and Mayor Marianne Alto, a long-time fan of the Lions, are rolling out the red carpet with expanded seating for up to 14,000.
In a Facebook post on Friday, Langford said staff and council had been in ongoing discussions with the Lions about a potential game in Langford since 2022, and more recently in July.
In January, the CFL commissioner and officials from the B.C. Lions said during an event in the West Shore city that the league was considering Starlight Stadium for the Touchdown Pacific game.
“When the City heard the news of the game being awarded to the City of Victoria, staff reached out to the president of the B.C. Lions to understand the determining factors related to this decision,” the city said in its post.
“Staff have yet to hear back, however.”
The large B.C. Hydro transmission tower that had prevented Starlight Stadium’s expanded seating was moved this summer at a cost of $4.25 million to the city.
Although the exact potential seating capacity has yet to be determined, Langford staff said it could be 8,000 to 10,000 seats.
“Langford council remains committed to the activation of Starlight Stadium in creative ways to maximize capacity to continue to attract high-performance sports matches and concerts,” the city said in its statement.
“The city will provide a further update on this matter if it learns more from the BC Lions and will remain in active discussions with the franchise for a future game.”
The sudden switch to Victoria likely had a lot to do with the Lions’ owner, Amar Doman.
Doman, who was born in Victoria and graduated from Oak Bay Secondary, told the Times Colonist this week that holding the game in Victoria was “a dream come true for me”
“I love Victoria, I love the Lions and I love the CFL.”
The Touchdown Pacific game will, for at least this year, replace the Touchdown Atlantic CFL games that have been held recently in Halifax, Moncton, N.B., and Wolfville, N.S.
Tickets for the Victoria game are going on sale in March.
CFL officials said Touchdown Atlantic events resulted in$10 million to $17 million in economic impact for the host communities.
Destination Greater Victoria CEO Paul Nursey estimated an economic impact of $12 million in the region.
— with files from Cleve Dheensaw