Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lions Want 2014 Grey Cup

Batting orders are for baseball. But there’s nothing wrong with hosting the Grey Cup out of turn if the conditions are right, which is why the B.C. Lions are after the CFL’s 2014 championship game even though they only held the contest in Vancouver three years ago.

President Dennis Skulsky said Wednesday the fact the Ottawa expansion franchise won’t yet be in a position to take the game it was provisionally awarded was behind the recent application by the Lions to act as hosts.

It also doesn’t hurt, in Skulsky’s opinion, to have a remodelled B.C. Place Stadium to serve as a venue, and that the 2005 and 2011 games were deemed to be esthetic and financial successes.

Is it too soon between games? Not when the last two contests worked out so well, Skulsky said. Besides, in 1986-87, the Lions served as hosts and both games sold out at the dome.

“We’ve done a little research and the response we got was that people don’t mind having the game here every three to five years. Some people want it every year, but we’d be right in that range if we were successful,” said Skulsky. “We’ve got great facilities with the stadium and Vancouver Convention Centre, and we’ve shown we can organize well.”

With Ottawa unable to stage the game it was awarded in 2008 and no certainty of a rebuilt stadium in 2014 for Hamilton, the only other bid reportedly in the running at present is from Winnipeg, which is moving into a new facility this year, but is believed to have cost issues stemming from stadium construction.

“This opportunity came up because of the number of teams putting up their hands,” Skulsky said.

The B.C. bid only came up as a result of the provincial budget released Tuesday, in which a $2.7 million business development expense in the service plan was included for the 2014 bid to be used by the team’s landlord, B.C. Pavilion Corp.

The money has not yet changed hands, nor it is the first time the provincial Crown corporation has been involved in staging the game, with $2.01 million allocated to stage the 2011 contest, according to government figures.

For the last few years, CFL teams have been required to purchase staging rights for the Grey Cup game, reportedly in the $3 million range, and have greatly benefitted from the exchange.

Last year’s game at Toronto’s Rogers Centre, according to reports, generated $17 million in revenue and $10 million profit for Argos and Lions owner David Braley.

But Skulsky said the benefits for the region exceed the cost, noting the contribution of the B.C. government doesn’t come close to the $6.2 million given by the province of Saskatchewan for this year’s game in Regina, or the reported $9.5 million in federal and provincial contributions for events associated with the 100th Grey Cup last year.

The 2011 B.C. game produced an economic impact of $118 million. “If every time the government spent $2.7 million and turned it into $118 million, we’d all be better off,” said Skulsky.

The CFL holds its annual Congress next week in Regina, but the Lions are of a belief they will hear whether their bid will be successful in less than a month.

(Vancouver Province)

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