The B.C. Lions’ Canadian Football League game next summer at Royal Athletic Park is more than just a game for owner Amar Doman. It’s personal.
“It’s a dream come true for me,” said Doman, who was born in Victoria and graduated from Oak Bay Secondary. “I love Victoria, I love the Lions and I love the CFL.”
The game between the B.C. Lions and the Ottawa Redblacks, scheduled for 4 p.m. Aug. 31, was announced on Wednesday.
“We have long stated that the Lions are British Columbia’s team,” Doman said. “The success here in Victoria is going to be overwhelming. The tickets are going to be extremely hot. This is not preseason. It counts in the standings. This is going to be one of the best parties Victoria has seen.”
Tickets will go on sale in March. Temporary bleachers will be brought in to increase seating to between 12,000 to 14,000, according to the Lions.
The game is dubbed Touchdown Pacific and 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 Touchdown Atlantic games sold out in less than 24 hours, said Lions president and COO Duane Vienneau, who expects the same for the Touchdown Pacific game in Victoria.
“It will be the hottest ticket in town. There will also be a festival element to the occasion in the Inner Harbour area. It’s our next pinnacle event to the Grey Cup. The Touchdown Atlantic experiences have shown that we are going to see an invasion of CFL fans coming into the city wearing the jerseys of all nine teams.”
The Touchdown Pacific game will be included as part of the season-ticket holders package.
Vienneau said there are about 1,000 Lions season ticket holders on the Island and thousands of others who go across the strait for individual games.
Among them is Victoria Mayor Marianne Alto — an avid Lions fan who, along with her son, has not missed a season-opening home game at B.C. Place in 20 years.
“There are a huge number of Lions fans on the Island, including myself as a longtime fan,” Alto said.
“We want to create an experiential city — whether it’s in sports, culture or the arts — and create incredible memories for people,” she added.
Touchdown Pacific is being held in conjunction with the CFL, B.C. Lions, City of Victoria, government of B.C. and Destination Greater Victoria, but hard financial details were not provided.
Alto said it’s a “coalition of sources” and that the city’s contribution — “a few hundred thousand dollars” — is all in-kind.
Vienneau said Touchdown Atlantic events created $10 million to $17 million in economic impact in the host communities.
“There are lots of different funding sources and the event pays for itself, including with sponsors and ticket sales,” he said.
Touchdown Pacific is expected bring similar benefits, with Destination Greater Victoria CEO Paul Nursey estimating an economic impact of $12 million in the region.
“We are coming into our prime as a vital city,” he said.