Victoria, BC eager about internet hosting a Landing Pacific recreation

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A football with the new CFL logo sits on a chair in Winnipeg on November 27, 2015. A football with the new CFL logo sits on a chair in Winnipeg on November 27, 2015. Photo by John Woods /THE CANADIAN PRESS

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The Canadian Football League is entertaining offers to expand its Touchdown series of one-offs across the country, and tourism officials in Victoria, BC want to get into that game.

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“We have talked to the (BC) Lions about it in the past and it’s an obvious kind of thing that just would make too much sense,” said Keith Wells, executive director of the Greater Victoria Sport Tourism Commission. “The idea of ​​a Touchdown Atlantic and why not a Touchdown Pacific, and finally have the game stretch from coast to coast. We’re looking at the idea of ​​hosting in the future.”

Wells said 2025 would be the earliest date for a Touchdown Pacific game featuring the Lions as a home team in the BC capital. That’s because the prospective venue, Starlight Stadium in Langford, BC, currently seats just 6,000. The City of Victoria last year approved an expenditure of $8-million for an expansion that would almost double capacity, and preliminary work began in late 2022.

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The Toronto Argonauts and Saskatchewan Roughriders will meet again in another Touchdown Atlantic game in 2023, this one set for Huskies Stadium on the campus of Saint Mary’s University in Halifax on July 29. Previous Touchdown Atlantic games have also been held in Moncton, NB and Wolfville , NS

CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said recently the league wants to expand its Touchdown series beyond Atlantic Canada beginning in 2024 and has heard expressions of interest from three other communities across the country. Victoria is obviously one of them, and it’s believed Quebec City is another. An executive with Quebec City Tourism did not return a request for comment on Thursday.

Ambrosie also said the Touchdown events offer insight into a community’s ability to eventually support a CFL expansion team.

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“It is a remarkably interesting way to think about the rationale for these events,” he said. “Take a game there, have great success, create a lot of energy. You also have an opportunity to create an economic benefit to those communities, which speaks well to the long-term opportunity to potentially bring a football team to those markets.”

However, expansion to Victoria is too far down the road for Wells to envision.

“First things first, it would be great to see what the reaction would be here to having a CFL regular season or exhibition game. You never know what the complexion of the league down the road may be; maybe there is a picture sometime of this being a true sea-to-sea, Atlantic-to-Pacific league. You never know.

“We’ve got a great sport history here, and it’s the British Columbia Lions after all, not the Vancouver Lions. We still have a large contingent of people you would see on the BC Ferries going over to Vancouver on the weekend during the CFL season to attend BC Lions games. Tightening that connection with the Lions makes sense. And I know Greater Victoria would do a great job of it. It would be a terrific event to host if we’re given the opportunity. It really is in the hands of the Lions and the CFL.”

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Twitter.com/sportsdanbarnes

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