Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lions back to Empire? Thankfully, it never rains in Vancouver

It's acknowledged the CFL loves playing to nostalgia, but the B.C. Lions temporarily returning to Empire Stadium takes it a little too far.
"(The B.C. Lions) are considering moving at least some games in the 2010 season to a temporary facility at the site of old Empire Stadium in east Vancouver during construction of the new roof (at B.C. Place)." — Vancouver Sun
Long story short, it's B.C. Place or no place when it comes to CFL-worthy stadia west of the Rocky Mountains. It's important to make too big a deal of this from a football point-of-view, since if worst came to worse, the Lions might end up with fewer than nine home games (then you get into the whole comprising-the-league's-integrity thing, but no more so than having people find out one owner was bankrolling another club, hey-oooooo!).

The subtext is this points out how in some ways, sport is almost foreign to Canada's culture. That is unless the sport is played on ice and only about 10 countries in the world happen to care (and if the athletes can be predominantly Caucasian, so much the better). Across Canada, you have major cities without a suitable stadium or trying to make do with an old one, even in Toronto, where Rogers Centre is exactly what we deserve, not necessarily in a good way. You know the refrain: "There's more important things to spend money on!"

Still, the hyper-pragmatism (GJH's term) wears thin after a while. Take a look around. It took forever and a day for the Montreal Alouettes to get the go-ahead on renovations for Molson Stadium (will that include actually having urinals in the men's washrooms?).

In Ottawa's case, it's ridiculous that intelligent people are nattering on about "process" because the city, to cop a phrase from the Citizen's awesome Randall Denley, has the temerity to "tak(e) the appropriate steps to review in detail an intriguing offer from a respectable group of city business people," with respect to Lansdowne Park. The same goes for people who summarize the situation with the baseball stadium on Coventry Rd. by saying, "Well, at least we got almost 20 years out of it."

Far be it people would get mad at the lack of leadership, as expressed by a couple Vancouver Sun users.
"We have lost Triple-A baseball because of facities that are antiquated and too old never to be upgraded to potential. We have an owner (Greg Kerfoot) who wants to pay out of his own pocket, a new soccer stadium but can't because of politics. They tore down Empire Stadium, one of the prettiest sites in North America, and made it into a park. This city and Province are spending millions of dollars on B.C. Place located in a very congested area. How come the city of Seattle has two beautiful facilities and we can't even have one. Luckily the Griffiths built GM Place otherwise we wouldn't have pro hockey here."

"Is Canada not the most pathetic country in the world ... How in heck a city the size of Vancouver ... only has one stadium is ridiculous... The fact that a city the size of Quebec City and Ottawa have no stadium at all proves how pathetic this country is... We have stadiums in Calgary, Winnipeg, Regina, Hamilton and Montreal that are laughable at best... All of those stadiums should of been torn down in the 1980s... In Montreal...they are sinking more money into Molson Stadium ... What a joke ... the stadium is 100 years old!!! Build a new one!!! .... This country is sooooo messed up...what is more important? Putting a bunch of taxi drivers in Vancouver out of work.... or building a foundation for the CFL in Canada that ,the last time I checked, was one of very few institutions that this pathetic country has to be proud of!!!"
Be that as it may. Arguments can be entertained that the NFL has gone way too far with building new stadiums and that the great college football powerhouses in the U.S., your USC Trojans and Alabama Crimson Tide and Ohio State Buckeyes all pretty much play in the same stadia that they did when The Bear and and Woody Hayes were coaching. Meantime, though, if you're a taxpayer who loves sitting out in the summer quaffing a libation and watching professional sport, it's a little tough to see the politicians always tossing blades of grass up in the air like a kicker trying to gauge the wind. They were elected to show some leadership and vision, eh.

Meantime, the Van Sun Mike Beamish noted people should curb their enthusiasm about the Lions playing outdoors temporarily:
"Football history happened there and may yet again. But re-creating the past on the former CFL site might be not as starry-eyed as the romantics envision. Call me unromantic if you want. But I see monstrous headaches ahead. And thousands of full bladders, doing the Mexican hat dance while queuing up for relief, is just one of many."
A return to old Empire? (Vancouver Sun)
B.C. Lions may return to original site of Empire Stadium; Team might play some 2010 CFL games at old Empire Stadium location while B.C. Place gets new roof (Vancouver Sun)


Lauren said...

I'm surprised at how negative the opinions have been on this considering it would just be a temporary measure for a few games. I've never seen Empire Stadium and think it would be a unique opportunity to take in a CFL game there. The Alouettes experience at Percival Molson certainly is comparable isn't it?

Anonymous said...

I absolutely LOVE the Sun reader's comments on how pathetic we are as we wring our hands on stadiums - the whole "bread not circuses" crowd. Doesn't anybody know by now that the whole monetary system is a Ponzi, so it doesn't matter? They can sell bonds, "create jobs" and the whole thing is "good for the country" and we can damn well participate in things like the rest of the world. We suck.