The 2013 CFL Canadian College Draft has come and gone and it will likely be sometime before the BC Lions see what they got from this year’s group of picks. Some are projects, some may look south of the border. Let’s take a look at the newest members of the Pride as we try and learn a bit more about them.
Hunter Steward – Offensive Lineman – Liberty University of Lynchurg, Virginia. (1st pick, 6th overall)
Heading into the draft, the Lions were looking to address their non-import offensive line depth. The club saw three of its top choices plucked by other clubs by the time their pick came up, and rather than take a risk on a player that was drawing interest from the NFL, the club went off the board somewhat to select Steward, a 6’7” 290 pound lineman from Liberty where he will return next season to complete his final year of collegiate eligibility. The Lions project that Steward; a converted defensive lineman, could develop into a tackle in the CFL, but they will have to wait until 2014 to make that assessment.
His coaches say:
• Very athletic
• Plays with a lot of energy
• Is still learning the position, but is going to be a great football player.
Seydou Junior Haidara – Wide Receiver – Laval University (2nd pick, 12th overall)
Widely regarded as one of the best receivers available in the draft, the Lions selected Haidara with their second pick of the day. At 6’1” 215 pounds, he’s a big bodied receiver who the Lions feel can play multiple positions in the offense, be it wideout, slot or tight end. Head coach Mike Benevides added that Haidara was also at the top of the class in special teams where his career will likely begin with the Lions if he impresses enough at camp, giving him a chance to hone his skills under an already solid set of receivers. If that doesn’t work out, he still has another year of CIS eligibility left.
Bo Lokombo – Linebacker – Oregon (3rd pick, 21st overall)
With their third pick the Lions certainly rolled the dice a little bit, taking Abbotsford native Bo Lokombo, who plays for a solid program in Oregon and is already drawing interest from NFL teams. It may be awhile if ever, before the Lions see Lokombo in black and orange,
Being a local product the Lions have seen a lot of Lokombo and the club simply felt that at that time in the draft, there was too much upside to pass up taking the chance.
With Adam Bighill and Solomon Elimimian in place, the Lions have time to watch the Lokombo story play out, and if it ends up in their favour, they probably drafted one of the best prospects in this year’s class. He and DL Stefan Charles (who was drafted by the Eskimos) were consistently at or near the top of the prospect rankings. Lokombo will be returning to Oregon for another season, with his sights set firmly on next year’s NFL draft when he will be eligible for selection.
Matt McGarva – Defensive Back – Windsor (4th pick, 33rd overall)
The Lions dipped into some family genes with their selection of DB Matt McGarva of Windsor. McGarva’s brother, Sean is a Community Relations coordinator for the club. With the loss of Cauchy Muamba in the off-season, an aging secondary and the departure of Byron Parker, defensive back was another area the Lions were hoping to address.
At 6’0”, 191 pounds, the Surrey native is a hometown product who lists himself on his Twitter account as an “avid BC Lions fan”, so he should be thrilled with today’s events. He was named a second team all-Canadian in 2011 after finishing the season with 48 tackles for the Lancers. He went on to earn his second-straight OUA all-star nod last fall in his final year of eligibility with Windsor, despite playing just four games.
McGarva is a fitness nut and will “cut his teeth” on special teams according to Lions DB coach Mark Washington as the club tries to groom him for a non-import spot in the secondary one day.
Matthew Albright – Offensive Lineman – Saint Mary’s (5th pick, 42nd overall)
The Lions went back to the offensive line with their 5th pick of the day; selecting 6’5” 295 pound Matthew Albright from Saint Mary’s. Winner of a Russ Jackson award in 2012, presented to the player best exemplifying the attributes of academic achievement, football skill & citizenship, Albright played tackle for the Huskies and was named a conference all-star in 2012. His offensive line with the Huskies gave up just 10 sacks last year in 8 games and averaged a league best 201.4 yards a game.
Matt Walker –Defensive Back – UBC (6TH pick, 50th overall).
The Lions stayed local with their next pick selecting UBC’s Matt Walker, who had an impressive invite camp with the Lions in April. Walker will get a taste of the CFL at training camp this season, but will likely return to UBC where at 21, he still has three years of eligibility left.
Walker played high school football in Vernon & from there went to University of Saskatchewan Huskies as a WR. He played one season with the Bratislava Monarchs in Slovakia in the spring 2011 In the fall of 2011 he came to the Okanagan Sun about 4 games in as a WR but transitioned to DB in his 2nd game. Walker played in one exhibition & 1 regular season game in 2012 for UBC before an ACL tear ended his season. He fully rehabbed the injury and is back at full speed (4.59 40 at April e-camp).
(Thanks to Heather Foster for the info on Matt).
Cameron Thorn –Defensive Lineman – Guelph (7th pick, 58th overall)
With their final pick in the Lions added a natural defensive lineman who they hope to covert to the offensive line, selecting Guelph’s Cameron Thorn. The Ontario native also possesses ability as a long-snapper, a valuable commodity in the CFL.
This past season the 6-foot-5, 290lb fourth year player appeared in eight regular season games for the Gryphons and racking up 19 tackles, and one sack. In 2012, Thorn played in the East West Bowl at Western University on the West Team.
More Draft Coverage:
- CFL.ca Draft Board
- BCLions.com Draft Coverage
- BC Lions getting good at rolling the dice. (Lowell Ullrich, The Province)
- Linden Gaydosh selected first overall (TSN.ca)
- Behind The Scenes At The CFL Draft (Kate McKenna – TSN.ca)
- Looking Ahead: Recapping the CFL Draft (TSN.ca)
With GM Wally Buono on his annual Hawaiian vacation, there hasn’t been much news of late coming out of the Lions Den. But as we had into 2013, there are a few nuggets worth discussing including an attempt by a certain team to get Buono to move east.
Fabien Looking South
Scott Mitchell of the Calgary Sun reports that 2011 first round draft pick Kirby Fabien will have a chance to impress NFL scouts after being named to the West roster at the East-West Shrine game. The game includes the best that college football has to offer and is a high exposure event for players to get the big league’s attention.
The Lions of course are still hoping to have Fabien in their lineup, as soon as this year, and with uncertainty along the offensive line due to injury issues to Dean Valli and Jon Hameister-Ries, never mind the possible departure of Jovan Olafioye, Fabien heading south would be a blow.
That said it was the reason he returned to the Calgary Dinos instead of signing with the Leos last season. A chance to play in the NFL is every young players dream and you can’t fault Fabien for pursuing his for himself and for his family. If it doesn’t work out for him, Fabien told the Sun he has no issues with playing in the CFL.
“It’s a great option. It’s a great city and a great organization. If I play in the CFL, I’ll be playing for the Lions.”
Buono Approached by Ottawa Group
Tim Baines of the Ottawa Sun reports that Jeff Hunt and the Ottawa Sports & Entertainment Group are leaving no stone unturned in their search for a quality football man to run their operation. Baines writes that Hunt approached the Lions about permission to speak with GM Wally Buono, who quickly informed them he was quite happy in Vancouver.
It’s of course a compliment to Buono and to the Lions organization that he was approached, but Lions fans everywhere have to be pleased it didn’t go any farther than a courtesy phone call. The Lions have a solid and stable football operations team in place, a luxury that many teams would love to replicate.
Growing the Brand
I recently attended a Seattle Seahawks game and couldn’t help coming away total impressed. I’ve been down before but this trip really hammered home how well the Seahawks have marketed the “12th Man” concept to the fans. Everyone there buys in and on game day it is an event all around the stadium.
From the Blue Thunder percussion group, the tailgating, Touchdown City and the raising of the 12th man flag, the Seahawks brand is everywhere. The city takes pride in having the loudest stadium in the NFL, and if you haven’t experienced it live, you haven’t heard loud.
Of course it’s a different league and a different culture south of the border; Saskatchewan and Winnipeg would be the smaller scale versions of the Seahawks model, with the Riders marketing their fans as the 13th man. With their new stadiums in the works, both teams have a real chance to build on the pride they take in having the loudest stadiums in the league.
When the building is full and the fans are into the game BC Place is a very loud stadium, but those occurrences are all too rare in BC. The crowd is good and becoming more involved, but it could be so much better if they felt part of the whole experience. The Lions were all over the media last off-season following their Grey Cup win, but it didn’t result in the increased attendance they had hoped for. As a fan you can’t help to be somewhat jealous of how passionate fans in these markets are about their teams.
It is up to the team to find something for the fans to get behind so they can help build and instill this type of passion among its fan base. They only need to look 2 hours south to get some really great ideas.
All the best to the Seahawks this weekend! Go Hawks!
On Friday night, the Lions travel to Calgary to battle the Stampeders in their final road game of the 2012 regular season. Not only are the Lions in first place in the league, but as far as I am concerned, they’re first when it comes to engaging with their fans on social media platforms.
To mark the occasion of the final road game of the year, why not join your fellow @BCLions tweeps at the Official BC Lions Tweet-Up at Shark Club Vancouver?
Kicking off at 5:45 pm, Friday’s free event will feature great food and beverage specials and a variety of awesome prizes including autographed photos, Lions merchandise and a pair of tickets to the club’s upcoming home game on Saturday, November 3. You never know, there may even be a special guest or two drop by to say hello!
Space is limited to 50 attendees, so register now to ensure you can be part of this special event!
As always, don’t forget to follow the Lions on Twitter at twitter.com/bclions and join the conversation about Friday’s event using the hashtag #Lionstweetup.
If you’re interested in attending this event, you’ll need to register and print off your ticket via this link at Event Brite: Official BC Lions Tweetup Registration
There is nothing like having depth when it comes to assembling a football team and the BC Lions proved theirs once again last night. Mike Reilly steered the Lions to a 39-19 victory over the Edmonton Eskimos to punch their ticket to the 2012 Western Final and I’m pleased to present my first place clinching thoughts, from the stands.
After the interception on the first series, Mike Reilly took command of the team and settled in. I thought he made some hasty decisions at times, but that’s being extremely picky on my part. The Lions couldn’t have asked for more from their backup QB who showed all he has the tools to play. Watching his mannerisms on the field one might have thought Lulay was in the game. The offence sputtered a little in the third quarter, allowing Edmonton to stick around, but again I’m being picky. It was a very impressive performance by Reilly. Not only did Reilly prove that he has the skills to play, he also reinforced that no one in this league finds and develops quarterbacks in this league better than the Lions.
I thought the unsung hero of the night was Tim Brown. Not only did Brown have a great night returning kicks, he was a force on offence as well, particularly on some nicely executed shovel passes. His 23 yard run at the end of the game was a nice way to cap a strong game in which he racked up 268 all-purpose yards. With the Eskimos doing a good job of containing Andrew Harris, Brown’s contribution was solid and well schemed by Jacques Chapdelaine and the Lions.
Mike Reilly, Nick Moore, Courtney Taylor, Ernest Jackson, Maurice Evans, Brandon Jordan, Jabar Westerman, Patrick Kabongo, Jesse Newman. All depth guys who have stepped in for starters in the last few weeks and the team hasn’t missed a beat. The Lions now have the chance to get some guys healthy the rest of the way, but they’ll also have some tough decisions to make as it will be really tempting to keep some of these guys in. One could even argue that the offence has been more productive in the last three weeks then it was earlier in the season. Regardless as some of the players on this team near the end of their careers, it leaves you with a good feeling about the future.
Stubler Let’s Em Loose
The Lions defensive pressure was relentless last night. It left them vulnerable to the long pass at times, but for the most part it had the desired effect. Eight sacks were racked up and Kerry Joseph completed just six passes all night long. When the defence wasn’t busy sacking Joseph, they were shutting down Hugh Charles, rendering the Eskimo offence a non factor for most of the night.
Shawn Gore is quickly becoming the Lions go to guy on 2nd down. His clutch catches haven’t come without a price either as for yet another game he took another big hit when he was sandwiched between two Eskimos in the fourth quarter. Akeem Foster also contributed which was nice to see. His 47 yard reception after the Reilly interception on the first series was important in more ways than one.
Proud Papa Phillips
Ryan Phillips had more than one chance to get an interception for his newborn son and finally got one in the fourth to really put a nail in the coffin of the Eskimos. Phillips had to be shocked after Cary Koch’s highlight of the year candidate catch, but he had a strong game overall and has been really noticeable the last two weeks.
Home Field Advantage
Lions fans are really starting to get it and the crowd of just over 30,000 were again a factor. It’s getting loud on defence, and not just at the end of the game. Imagine what type of advantage the Lions could have at home if it continues to improve, or if we can add another 20,000 people for the Western Final. I just love this time of year as the playoffs approach. The crowds get bigger, the fans get into it, and I just can’t wait for November 18th.
It’s good to be home. Last week I had the awesome experience of watching the Lions play live in Montreal. I also had the privilege of attending the Labour Day Classic in Hamilton, the last one for old Ivor Wynne Stadium. But no matter where you travel it’s always good to come home and the Lions were probably saying the same thing after a 43-10 trouncing of the Alouettes at BC Place. Here’s how it looked to me, from the stands.
Great Start, Great Consistency
With the 1 pm start time, the Lions chose to stay at a high end downtown hotel the night before the game. Perhaps they should make that a regular practice because they played their most complete game of the season. The offence moved the ball consistently all night long. The offensive line, who had a tough night in Montreal last week stepped up to provide Travis Lulay with much better protection. I thought Jon Hameister-Ries had an outstanding game at guard.
The Lions mixed things up with their backs a little as well, using more of Tim Brown, who had some nice carries. That unit also did a much better of picking up their blocks. Andrew Harris didn’t have a dominating game, but he did grind out valuable yards when called on.
On defence the Lions started a little slow, allowing the Als to move the ball on their first few possessions, but they settled in and completely shut Montreal down from the second quarter. The Lions got better pressure on Anthony Calvillo then they did a week ago, therefore the secondary was able to cover much better this week.
This was the best game Lulay has played in a while. He was really spreading the ball around, had good zip on his passes and chose wisely when choosing to keep the ball. He just seemed very confident in a four TD pass performance. It was nice to see Mike Reilly and others get some work later in the game as well.
With Geroy Simon scratched from the lineup, the Lions looked to replace him by committee and those that were enlisted did a fantastic job. In particular, Nick Moore and Ernest Jackson had great games. Many thought Moore was running out of chances with the Lions but his performance against the Als showed you why the Lions have kept him around. His third quarter touchdown was all about awareness and second effort.
Jackson continues to get better and his deep touchdown catch in the fourth quarter was a beauty. Marco Iannuzzi, Arland Bruce and Shawn Gore all had strong performances as well. If you’re a real student of the game watch Bruce run his pass routes; they’re simply clinical.
It was a much different Als performance than I saw last week in Montreal. They weren’t in sync at all and were completely dominated after the first quarter. They took a ton of penalties as well, but even if they hadn’t there was no way they were winning this game. So much for the time change theory, they’re winless streak at BC Place goes on. I feel sorry for the Riders next week…no wait.
Just fewer than 30,000 fans took in the game. That’s a pretty good number for a 1 pm start when parents are out and about with their kids’ sports tournaments and such.
I do wish our crowd was louder though. The crowd can play a factor in a football game and while Lions fans generally do a decent job, it’s not anywhere near the participation I’ve seen in other cities. I hate harping on things like this, especially after such a great performance by the team. I just wish some fans were more passionate about the home field advantage aspect of the game.
I’d love to see your comments on the game below!
It’s always a good tailgate party when the Riders come to town!
Sunday afternoon football doesn’t come very often in Vancouver, although we have seen our share of Western Finals. With the Saskatchewan Roughriders in town and the roof open, the stage was set for a Western Division showdown before over 34,000 football fans. Here’s how I saw it, from the stands.
The Lions offence seemed to come out of the gate a little slow, but you couldn’t say that about the defence. Cauchy Muamba had a strong game and had two interceptions, including a key pick in the fourth that really seemed to deflate the Riders.
Adam Bighill continues to flourish while Jabar Westerman and Maurice Evans filled in nicely for the suspended Khalif Mitchell. But for my money it was Dante Marsh who was the player of the game on defence. The veteran cornerback had a big interception and added six tackles and was solid all night long.
Not much more needs to be said when you consider this team hasn’t allowed a touchdown in three full games. It would likely be scary for other teams to learn that on the post game show, Muamba stated that while the Lions defence was playing well, they “weren’t there yet”.
The Lions offence struggled early but stepped up when they were needed later in the game. It wasn’t Travis Lulay’s strongest game but he was hurried a lot, especially in the first half. The Lions were stuffed on third down from the one and a half yard line which was disappointing. Personally, instead of using the QB so much in short yardage I’d like to see us pound it with Rolly Lumbala or Harris.
Harris was held in check, with just 19 yards on 8 carries. Geroy Simon, Shawn Gore, Akeem Foster all had key catches, but it was Arland Bruce who led the way with 93 yards and a touchdown.
Ernest Jackson, making his second appearance of the season, continues to impress with size, speed and his catching ability. I loved what I saw from him in training camp and he could be on his way to finding a permanent spot in the lineup. The Lions will have some interesting choices to make when Kierrie Johnson eventually returns from his broken arm.
Special teams have been singled out a lot this season and most of the time not for good things. In this game there was very little not to like about their play. The Lions cover teams were strong for the most part. No yards penalties were few and far between (one?) and Tim Brown had a big return in the 2nd quarter that help set up a touchdown. Paul McCallum punted well which was nice to see since he has struggled in that department this season.
I thought the Lions did a nice job honouring the coaching career of Wally Buono. Video messages from Andrew Harris, Canucks coach Alain Vigneault, daughter Christie Buono and Wally himself were tastefully done and understated, just the way Wally would have preferred it to be.
I don’t do this usually, but we had a great tailgate party on Sunday. I was very proud to return to the lot and find it spotless. Well done everyone!
Tweets of the night
@DGilmour24: Great environment at BC Place tonight. Can’t beat watching a football game at BC Place on a Sunday afternoon with the roof open. #BCLions
Absolutely, I’m certainly looking forward to more afternoon games in the future.
@angusreid64: Thanks to all our great #BCLions fans for cheering us on to victory tonight! first place feels GRRRREEEAAT!!
Angus has been eating his Frosted Flakes again.
@BCLions: Speaking of @dantemarsh, he’s just 2 tackles shy of surpassing Barrin Simpson (475) atop the #BCLions all-time rankings in tackles. #CFL
Had no idea Dante was approaching team records like this.
@Lilminimo Me and cardboard @DanielJWood won the kiss cam at the @BCLions game tonight. EPIC! haha #kisscam #bclions
It’s true, she kissed some cardboard and one the kissing cam contest. Awesome.
Talk to you next week everyone, 5-2 as we head into Bomber land!
Don’t worry Hamiltonians, 0-2 is no big thing, really.
Friday’s game was entertaining but BC certainly didn’t make things easy on themselves. That said, all facets of the game contributed to the win in some way. Here was my view, from the stands.
Once again the offence was hot and cold, although credit has to go to the Ticats as well who have a pretty strong and aggressive defence.
Travis Lulay was 17-31 for 178 yards and two touchdowns and that seems to match his performance for the night. He seemed to be just a touch off on his deep throws all night long. He did manage the game well and in particular the last drive of the game (with a huge assist to Andrew Harris).
Harris had a big night and while most of it came on two carries, the Canadian running back rose to the occasion, sealing the win fourth quarter and finishing the night with 140 yards on 13 carries.
A nod has to go to the offensive line as well for opening the holes for Harris and surrendering zero sacks on the night.
In the first half the Lions defence had Henry Burris off his game. Following an Anthony Reddick interception to set up a Lions score, Burris was pulled to think about things by his head coach, George Cortez, but Quinton Porter was just as ineffective. When Burris returned to start the third quarter, the veteran showed his poise in the pocket and used it to find open receivers, particularly on two fourth quarter drives.
The pass defence gave up 359 yards on the night, and they will want to shore things up as they head into Regina next weekend to face Weston Dressler, Chris Getzlaf, Rob Bagg and company.
The front four were effective again albeit more so in the first half, but they did rack up four sacks and several hurries on the night. I thought Adam Bighill continued to show well at linebacker, and Anton McKenzie had another strong game.
Cover teams continue to struggle and it has to be a concern for the club. Yes it’s still early but this is a problem that has plagued the Lions for the better part of two seasons now. Where cover teams faltered Tim Brown and the return teams excelled. Brown was quick to acknowledge his blockers post game and his 296 combined kick/punt return yards easily made him the player of the game for the Lions.
Odds and ends
The purpose of my gig here is to relay the view of the game as a fan. That includes the fan experience, which I am happy to say was more comfortable with the roof open tonight.
Chris Palliser, on field announcer for the Lions teamed up with Crazy P to try and revive the historic BC chant. They almost got it going too. If they stick with it and maybe get the scoreboard involved, we should be hearing it more prominently in future games.
There were just 25,109 in attendance at the game. You have to think the first sunshine of summer had some people heading to the beach, camp grounds and patios. Still, I’m disappointed in the Vancouver sports fan. This is a really good football team who just won a championship for this city. Where is the support outside of the 25,000 diehards that are attending? Hamilton is traditionally a smaller draw, but let’s hope that when Edmonton comes to town this team gets a crowd it deserves.
BC Place; Can we please get some beverage service in the seats? Section 243 saw no water, pop, lemonade, or heaven forbid a beer vendor all game long. Thanks.
Tweets of the night
@winktweets: Hamilton, you might have more success if your coach didn’t spend the whole game sniffing a felt pen #tameTicats #Ticats
@RayRay2233 @You want a statement? Get the ball in @andrewharris33 hands #tameTicats #Lions
@RayRay2233 There’s NO such thing as an ugly win. It’s a W plain and simple, 2-0 @BCLions You win, you learn, you move on to Saskatchewan. #tameTicats
The BC Lions welcomed their rookies to their Kamloops training camp today and Friday this year’s crop of talent will get their first chance to show the coaches they should stick around until the main camp gets going on the 3rd of June.
Yes, the CFL season is upon us once again which means things are going to be getting busy here at BCLionsDen.ca.
In the first of our series of training camp previews we’ll look at a few rookies that we think may be worth keeping an eye on during these first couple of days of training camp, 2012.
#99 – Jabar Westerman – DE
Well duh, right? The Lions have really been playing Westerman up since the draft, so all eyes will be on the newest #99 in club history. If he’s the real deal, the Lions have may have found a replacement for Brent Johnson in short order not only talent wise, but ratio wise. Of course he’ll have to earn that comparison, but by all accounts Westerman has all the tools and the Lions would love for him to show well in camp and force them to give him solid reps off the rush end position.
#43 – Jordan Verdone LB/FB
Another 2012 draft pick, the Calgary Dinos linebacker sounds like he’s going to start his CFL career as a fullback. According to reports, the Lions will look to groom him as a backup to starter Rolly Lumbala. However before that, look for Verdone to show his football skills on special teams. Following the draft coach Mike Benevides referred to Verdone as “Just a really good football player,” which indicates his versatility could be his ticket onto the roster.
#16 – Thomas Demarco – QB
While some teams have struggled to do so, the experienced Buono has usually thrived at finding and developing quarterbacks in the CFL. Whether Demarco will be the next great find for the club remains to be seen of course. At 5’11 and 200 pounds, Demarco is described as an effective rusher with a strong and accurate arm. He’ll start camp 4th on the club’s depth chart behind Travis Lulay, Mike Reilly and Cleo Leonard. Junior quarterback Jordan Yantz of the Vancouver Island Raiders has also been invited to camp.
#59 –Matthew Norman – OL
The Lions liked the size and the toughness when they drafted Matt Norman in the 3rd round of the 2012 draft. At 6’3”, 317 pounds the team feels he’ll be able to handle the toughness of the pro game. He’ll be auditioning at guard. The decision of 2nd round pick Kirby Fabien not to sign with the Lions and return to school will mean more reps for Norman.
BC Lions president Dennis Skulsky introduces the BC Lions new Reebok jerseys. Photo: Rebecca Bollwitt: Miss604.com
The BC Lions introduced their new jerseys on Wednesday and in this case the Lions felt it was a case of why change a good thing?
The only real design change to the newest threads is the removal of the black piping that ran from the shoulders, across the chest. The Reebok branding is different with the logo gone and the company’s name on each shoulder over the numbers. The quality is higher end, the material is different and the jersey has a different fit. The BC Lions logo on the shoulders is now a sewn on patch. A big upgrade over the screened only option fans had with previous editions.
When Bob Ackles returned the to Lions in 2002, he felt the team had lost it’s identity. One of the things he wanted to change was to bring back orange as the dominant colour of the team’s uniform. Club president Dennis Skulsky alluded to the fact that the Lions think their look is pretty good, so why mess with it?
“[The CFL] came to us last year but we said ‘we like our jerseys,’” said club president Dennis Skulsky. “To be honest we lost our way as an organization for a little because we had a whole bunch of different designs for awhile. This is the design.”
The team will be looking at redesigning their popular black third jersey with an eye for a 2013 debut.
Overall as a fan I’m happy that the look didn’t change drastically. I think the Lions uniforms are clean and sharp. The numbers are easy to read and the colour scheme works. These are clearly an upgrade in quality, so I will definitely buy one. And boy do we have a deal for you!
Our friends at Sports in Stuff in Chilliwack are taking pre-orders for the new jerseys and are offering a price of $179.99 for a pro-stitched jersey if you order and mention BCLionsDen.ca.
Jerseys will take about 10 days to get customized once they’re in stock. Give them a call at 604-858-2614 or email them at email@example.com! Of course you can always drop in and see them at the store, located at the Chilliwack Mall, 45610 Luckakuck Way, in Chilliwack.
Casual and hardcore BC Lions fans alike were looking forward to the transition to Empire Field last year because it would be the first time in almost 30 years they’d be seeing professional outdoor football. With a smaller venue consistent sellouts during the regular season were all but guaranteed…right?
Empire sold out once, ONCE! The season opener last year was all but assured a sell out considering the curiosity and hoopla surrounding the new venue. What’s more alarming is the clubs attendance record trending the wrong way since 2009. See Graph
2010 season first at empire
Game 1 average 22,738 – lowest since Ackles/Buono arrived!
So what’s the problem here? Armchair analysts have thrown plenty of theories around since the lackluster opener July 8th. Let’s dissect a few:
- The location of Empire and the issues with parking, transit and long line ups for concessions are negatively impacting the walk up crowd and casual fans who are biding their time for the move back to BC Place.
- The drop in average attendance began the year before the transition to Empire – a dramatic 5,000 per game drop from 2008 to 2009. The first couple of games at Empire admittedly had challenges with concession and washroom lineups but they were quickly rectified to reasonable levels. Interestingly enough, the average attendance the first four games at Empire was 25,671, which was 93% capacity, the highest average of the year.
- The Vancouver Canucks long playoff run has “burnt fans out”. This one is reaching. The argument would have more validity if these were similar sports for example, if the Vancouver Giants were starting their season now. Football in terms of style and pace is a completely different experience than hockey and a sports fan that enjoys both sports should have the ability to easily separate the two. I would argue that a long and grueling and ultimately frustrating end to the hockey season should motivate the sport fan to look for something different.
- The Whitecaps FC are popular and have taken some fans away. The Whitecaps have always been around; play at the same location fans complain about, have only 2 wins this year and can’t score. Next.
- The Lions record is impacting attendance. This suggestion is interesting because there certainly appears to be a correlation. See graph.
- The decrease in attendance began in 2009 with the sub .500 overall and home records and has consistently decreased as the record worsened.The affect could be two fold. Not only do fans hate losing, and losing at home for that matter, which the Lions in recent history do on a remarkably regular basis. But with the losses have come a poor entertainment value during the home games.
- Poor offensive and defensive starts to a game coupled with a lack of success can be frustrating, not entertaining.
- Here’s a potential factor that I feel needs to be considered. The increased role television broadcast has in fans attendance. See Graph:
Since 2007 there has been a dramatic increase in television viewership on TSN, we have also seen a steady increase of high definition televisions and broadcasts in the past 5 years.
At this time TSN cannot black out a teams home games on the HD feed. If you are a sports fan you’re going to purchase the HD sports package that includes TSN and you will have the option of watching a Lions game from the comfort of your home, with friends and family, broadcast in beautiful HD by a great broadcast crew. Very tempting.
My final point, which quite frankly I’m surprised others haven’t spent more time discussing and which links with the poor record, location, and HD broadcasting is this -
The Lions, over the course of 5 years, might have begun pricing some of their fans out of home games.
I will focus more time on this issue with more specific information in a future article but I have heard grumbling from fans recently. One went so far as to show me the increase in their season tickets from the 2008 season to 2011 a 64% increase in price during three straight losing seasons of football!
Fans were disappointed that prices increased when the team moved to Empire, a nostalgic venue but a downgrade in quality from the previous venue. Fans were disappointed when prices increased substantially this year to new venue prices when over 60% of the games will be played at Empire and only a few in the new venue. The pricing at the end zones seem to be a factor – sitting crammed on a cold bench with the elements hitting you for $35 to $45 does not seem appealing to most.
No question the return to the stadium formerly known as BC Place will pique interest and attendance numbers will go up. But with increasing ticket prices, a losing product and HD alternative how long will it last?