What a weekend of Football!!! I had the opportunity the last 2 years to travel to Quebec City to watch the Vanier Cup, which is the National Championship of Canadian University Football, at Laval University. If you haven’t been to the stadium at Laval let me try to explain the best I can, en Anglais!
It’s known as Pavillon de l’education physique et des sports de L’Universite Laval, and is usually called PEPS for short, which is sponsored by Telus. Now PEPS is a combination of various sports facilities, but I am going to focus on the Football portion of this complex for this article. It has a seating capacity of 12,257 and can be expanded to over 20,000 for Championship games. In fact, on October 20th 2019, this stadium held a crowd of 19,381 for a game against the Montreal Carabins. Inside the complex they have a full indoor practice field which is a facility that most pro football teams do not have.
On game day, Laval has an excellent tailgate party beside the stadium. Now, I have been to numerous tailgate parties at NFL games across the USA as well as in London, England, and Laval doesn’t come 2nd place to many of these. Cars start lining up early to get into the event and by the time everyone is set up in the parking lot you can smell the BBQ’s and see Footballs flying through the air. If you have not seen a tailgate before, I really want you to close your eyes for a second and picture the smoke from the BBQs, the smell, and the sight of hundreds if not 1000’s of footballs being tossed. When done right, there is nothing better than attending a tailgate before a football game.
Another benefit of a tailgate at the game, is the numerous companies that have tents set up for advertising. Local food vendors are set up for taste testing as well as selling product. Radio stations are all set up with numerous contests to promote their stations. Throughout my tailgating days, I have seen many sports teams canvas the parking lots selling chocolate bars, beads, hats, mittens, you name it, and I have most likely seen it. Plus there are the sports teams that come around with plastic bags to collect the empty cans. I spoke to the Coach/Father of these Kids looking for empties at Laval and he advised that these kids played for a Volleyball team that travels throughout Canada and fundraising has become very difficult to cover the cost for this team. He advised this was the 2nd year of collecting cans with the kids and in 2019 these kids had collected $20,000 in cans!! That is A LOT of cans!!
You know what else happened this weekend? The Grey Cup! And I was fortunate enough to make it home from Quebec in time to watch the game. What an amazing spectacle for the city of Calgary. According to a recent Google news article that was written by Mark Villani (@CTVMarkVillani), it was pointed out that the Grey Cup is the largest sporting event in the country and that it was forecasted that the city of Calgary could expect at least 30,000 new visitors with an economic boost of $80 Million to local restaurants, hotels, transportation, etc. In 2018, the city of Edmonton reported they had 30,841 new guests visit the city and spent approx $29 Million on their stay. Obviously getting the opportunity to host a Grey Cup is the goal of every Football City but getting the opportunity to host the Vanier Cup for 2 years in a row is a great opportunity as well. Randy Ambroise has made a promise that the city of Halifax will see a Grey Cup and I am sure The Vanier Cup will come but before we get to see these games there is an obvious missing piece to the equation…
We are all waiting for the Halifax City Council to make their decision on the fate of the Stadium in Halifax for a CFL Team. I think it’s very important for everyone to realize this stadium would not just be for the CFL, and that there are so many benefits to having this stadium. I just can’t believe that shovels are not in the ground yet. This stadium is a chance to grow the community and create new relationships within it. There are so many fun things going on before, during, and after any game and this stadium has the opportunity of not just hosting the CFL, but AUS games, Loney Bowls, UTeck Bowls, Vanier Cups, Provincial High School finals, and that is just football. Think of Soccer, Rugby, Lacrosse, this list goes on and on… You have to stop thinking about just a CFL stadium.
Each one of these events brings jobs, business opportunities, fundraising, and do I need to say it… The List goes On and On. We are so caught up on the risks of the CFL team succeeding that we are forgetting, or not taking into account all of the other things that can be going on inside this stadium.
I am asking on behalf of every CFL Fan, every official, and every kid across the Maritimes please build this stadium so that we can finally have our OWN team in the Maritimes and have a stadium for all these kids to play their championship finals in down the road.
I believe it was Bob the Builder that once asked and answered the question “Can we build it?”
“YES WE CAN!!!!”