Reported by Stuart Neatby
The Grey Cup season wrapped up Sunday with the Ottawa Redblacks’ spectacular overtime win, but some CFL fans in Vancouver feel like their home-team might be losing fans to another BC Place favourite.
Attendance for BC Lions games was down during the 2016 season, with a regular season average of 21,055. Although this was slightly lower than the 2015 attendance average of 21,290, it was a far cry from the 2014 season, when the team maintained an average of 28,011.
Sales of Lions merch is noticeably decreasing
Aftab Hadi, owner of Granville Sports Corner, said that he had seen a large decline in sales of BC Lions jerseys and apparel over the last few years. During the same time, he has noticed an upswing in sales of Vancouver Whitecaps apparel.
“[They are] almost the same people because people are looking for some entertainment. They need some thrills, some excitement, some game. So of course they are moving to the Whitecaps,” he said.
Reid Anderson, a casual Lions fan, said that he believed the Lions management had an “arrogant attitude” towards its fanbase.
It may be cheaper for sports fans to support the Whitecaps
“I think that the Lion’s price point is too high. For the entertainment value, I think that the White Caps deliver a similar experience for less money,” he said while watching Sunday night’s final at the Red Card, a popular downtown sports bar.
The Vancouver Whitecaps average attendance increased in 2016 to 22,330, up 1,822 from their 2015 average, according to Nathan Vanstone, a spokesperson for the team.
Jamie Cartwell, the Director of Communications for the BC Lions, said it was difficult to pinpoint why attendance for the Lions had diminished. He pointed to a growing number of Canadian football fans who have chosen to forego BC Place ticket prices in order to watch at home.
“I don’t think there’s any one clear reason why attendance has declined,”he said. “Right now we’re the only real winning team that this city has.”