An annual Canadian Football League “Touchdown Pacific” game, the first one featuring the B.C. Lions, could be coming to Starlight Stadium in Langford beginning in 2025.
“[Greater] Victoria makes a lot of sense and we are absolutely supportive of it,” B.C. Lions president and chief operating officer Duane Vienneau told the Times Colonist on Thursday.
He has already had discussions about it and was at Starlight Stadium in August.
It would complement the CFL’s existing “Touchdown Atlantic” series, which has brought games to Moncton, N.B., and Wolfville, N.S.
The Saskatchewan Roughriders and Toronto Argonauts will meet in this year’s Touchdown Atlantic game on July 29 at St. Mary’s University Huskies Stadium in Halifax. The annual Touchdown Atlantic games count in the regular-season standings and CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie has expressed interested in an annual West Coast counterpart game.
“It makes too much sense for the South Island and we are as supportive as possible,” said Keith Wells, executive director of the Greater Victoria Sport Tourism Commission. “There would be a big activation downtown with related events taking place that weekend.”
Starlight Stadium would need to be expanded to 10,000 seats from its current 6,000.
Langford approved an $8.5-million project last year to add a permanent 4,000-to-5,000 seat grandstand opposite the current main grandstand to increase capacity to at least 10,000. Of that total, $4.5 million was allotted for the new grandstand and $4 million to move the infamous utility pole that has frustrated past attempts to add a grandstand to that section of the stadium. The work to remove the utility pole has begun with completion expected in spring.
Vienneau said the B.C. Lions would need a minimum 10,000 seats at Starlight to make an Island game viable.
“That is the key piece. Everything rests on the planned expansion of the stadium,” Wells said.
The B.C. Lions have always had a large following in Greater Victoria. “We had busloads of Island football fans come over to B.C. Place for our Western Conference playoff semifinal game last year,” Vienneau said of the interest a B.C. Lions game would generate on the Island.
B.C. Lions owner Amar Doman was born and raised in Victoria and graduated from Oak Bay High School. “Victoria is a special place for Amar and this is very important for him,” said Vienneau.
Langford Mayor Scott Goodmanson believes it can happen: “Who wouldn’t want to see a CFL game here? It’s a win-win.” But he said the number of seats to be added has not yet been set.
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