Skip to content
Join our Newsletter

Canada Basketball aims for record attendance for pre-Olympic women's game in Victoria

Game against Portugal goes June 26
Nirra Fields and Canada will host Portugal in Victoria on June 26. (Zsombor Toth/MTI via AP)

Riding the sudden wave of popularity for women’s hoops, Canada Basketball aims to set a national team attendance record June 26 when Canada plays ­Portugal at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre.

Tickets go on sale today at 10 a.m. at Select Your Tickets. All 7,006 seats in the ­Memorial Centre bowl are priced at $27 plus charges. Floor seating is $65 for Canada’s only home game before the team departs for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The previous national team attendance record of 4,549 was set when 2020 Tokyo Olympics silver-medallist Japan beat ­Canada 80-60 last year at the Memorial Centre.

“The is the national team’s one and only shot to play in front of a home crowd before leaving for Paris. We anticipate and expect the attendance record, which Victoria already holds, will be broken,” said Canada Basketball president and CEO Michael Bartlett.

“Especially on the heels of today’s WNBA ­announcement [that Toronto will be getting a team next season with home games also to be played in ­Montreal and Vancouver],” added Bartlett, by phone from Toronto.

“We know Victoria and the Island really supports women’s sports. The WNBA is not just going to be playing in Canada. But the WNBA is playing for Canada [four Canadians are in the WNBA].”

The Canadian ­pre-Olympic camp June 18-30 in Victoria, and game against Portugal, will cost between $350,000 to $400,000 to host. The province is ­contributing $150,000, the City of Victoria $25,000 and Destination Greater Victoria $20,000. Canada Basketball is also involved.

“These are big drivers, not only economically but also to the quality of life needed for our city, not to mention the inspiration this will provide to young female athletes,” said Nick Blasko, COO of We the West and Friends of Victoria Basketball, the local organizing committee.

“We want to give the national team a big lift and a big send-off to Paris for the Olympics We have set the pace here [against Japan last year],” Blasko has told the Times Colonist.

“There is a huge gap to close between men’s and women’s sports. But the recent ­interest and excitement [led by the incoming WNBA rookie class that includes Canadian Aaliyah Edwards, Caitlan Clark and Angel Reese] has put women’s basketball at a place nobody thought it could go.”

It will continue a strong run of Victoria hosting hoops. The Canadian men’s national team sold out the Memorial Centre in 2022 for a 2023 FIBA World Cup Americas regional qualifying game against Argentina. The FIBA men’s qualifying tournament for the delayed Tokyo Olympics at the ­Memorial Centre in 2021 was sold-out before having to be played in an empty building due to ­pandemic restrictions. The Toronto ­Raptors intra-squad game, held during the NBA team’s 2022 training camp in Victoria, also sold-out the Memorial ­Centre.

The Canadian women cagers are ranked No. 5 in the world.

Portugal, which did not qualify for Paris, is world No. 46. The 2024 Paris Olympic Games begin July 26 with the women’s and men’s basketball tournaments — Canada has qualified for both — running July 27 to Aug. 11.

The Canadian women will be in Group B and open against host France on July 29 and play Australia on Aug. 1 and Nigeria on Aug. 4. The group stages will be played at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille and the playoff rounds at the Bercy Arena along the Seine in downtown Paris.

[email protected]