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B.C. Lions to play CFL game in Victoria next season: source

League to announce Wednesday that B.C. to take on Ottawa at Royal Athletic Park.
Quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. and the Lions are expected to be playing at Royal Athletic Park this coming summer. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

It will be first-down-and-10 on Caledonia Street, a source has confirmed to the Times Colonist. It is expected to be announced Wednesday that a Canadian Football League regular-season home game of the B.C. Lions will be played at Royal Athletic Park in 2024. The Lions’ opponent is expected to be the Ottawa ­Redblacks.

The City of Victoria and the Lions have called a news conference for this morning at the Victoria Conference Centre. In attendance will be CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie, ­Victoria born and raised Lions team owner Amar Doman, Lions head coach and co-GM Rick Campbell, Lions president Duane ­Vienneau, Lions kicker Sean Whyte, ­Victoria mayor Marianne Alto and Destination Greater Victoria CEO Paul Nursey.

Farhan Lalji of TSN reported Tuesday on X (formerly ­Twitter): “Hearing the B.C. Lions are expected to play one of their regular season games next summer in Victoria.”

The Times Colonist has had that confirmed from an ­independent source.

“Touchdown Pacific anyone?” added Lalji, in his tweet.

He was referring to the annual Touchdown ­Atlantic CFL games played in the ­Maritimes over recent seasons in Halifax, Moncton, N.B., and Wolfville, N.S. The ­Saskatchewan ­Roughriders and Toronto ­Argonauts met in the most recent Touchdown Atlantic game on July 29 at St. Mary’s ­University Huskies Stadium in Halifax. The Argos and ­Roughriders also met in a regular-season game in Wolfville in 2022 while Moncton hosted the Argonauts and Montreal Alouettes in 2019.

The annual Touchdown Atlantic games count in the ­regular-season standings and CFL commissioner Ambrosie has indicated interested in an annual West Coast counterpart game.

“[Greater] Victoria makes a lot of sense and we are ­absolutely supportive of it,” Lions president and COO ­Vienneau told the Times Colonist in January, for a story when a possible Lions game at Starlight Stadium in Langford was being discussed at that time.

“Greater Victoria is a special place for Amar [Lions owner and Oak Bay Secondary graduate Doman] and this is very important for him,” said Vienneau, at the time.

A number of Island fans make their way across the strait to watch the Lions play at B.C. Place, including Victoria mayor and season-ticket holder Alto.

Vienneau added in that ­January interview that the Lions would need a minimum 10,000 seats to make an Island game viable. Permanent seating at Royal Athletic Park is listed at 3,800 in the main grandstand and midfield areas for soccer and 2,867 in the corner section for HarbourCats baseball. The City-owned facility, however, was temporarily expanded to 10,500 seats for soccer’s 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup.

A CFL game would continue the region’s run of hosting ­professional and international sporting events. The nationally-broadcast Hockey Day in Canada will be conducted at Ship Point in Victoria on Jan. 20. Canada is playing Australia in a women’s soccer game and Canadian legend Christine Sinclair’s penultimate farewell fixture Friday at Starlight Stadium. The Toronto Raptors held their 2022 NBA training camp in Victoria and the Vancouver Canucks their NHL training camp in the capital this year.