METRO VANCOUVER - The date and location of the B.C. Lions’ preseason game against the Edmonton Eskimos was “to be determined” when the Canadian Football League announced its 2015 schedule on February 13.
More than two months later, the date remains in play but the location is not.
The Lions, displaced from BC Place Stadium because of the FIFA Women’s World Cup soccer tournament in June, will play the Eskimos at Thunderbird Stadium, on the campus of the University of B.C.
Saturday, June 20 -- an afternoon kickoff -- is the preferred date, according to UBC. But that is the last detail to be worked out. “We’re 95 cent of the way there,” said a university source, acknowledging that the CFL would prefer all preseason games be wrapped up by Friday, June 19. Week One of the regular season begins Thursday, June 25, with Ottawa playing in Montreal.
Thunderbird Stadium has seating for only 3,500 fans, but standing room on the west-side berm and end zones could accommodate 5-6,000 more for a total capacity of close to 10,000. Standing room seats would be priced in the $25-$30 range, with the hope of attracting students -- particularly the high percentage of international students on the Point Grey campus unfamiliar to North American football.
Seeking revitalization under the stewardship of the 13th Man Foundation and new head coach Blake Nill, Thunderbirds football also is looking to strengthen the linkage between the Lions and the CIS team. The evolving partnership works both ways, according to Lions executive Jamie Pitblado.
"It’s important we have a strong relationship with them (UBC), period,” Pitblado said. “You’ll see that relationship improving as we move forward. It makes sense to work with them. They have a desirable fan base of students and alumni.”
Three more CFL preseason games, affected by the FIFA World Cup and scheduling issues, are to be played in other secondary stadiums, with Edmonton’s home preseason game against Saskatchewan slated for Fort McMurray, Alta., Ottawa’s home preseason game in Quebec City and the Argos playing host to Winnipeg at Varsity Stadium in Toronto.