With this lull on MLS playoff proceedings, mostly because of the International Break, which saw the US lose it’s Hex opener to Mexico in Columbus and Bolanos make significant contributions to help see his Costa Rica to victory, I thought I’d take this time to examine where I see Vancouver’s 3 Pro sports teams are at.
The reigning top dog (only by reputation), the Canucks. The proverbial middle child of the 3 teams, with the Lions being the oldest and the Caps being the youngest. Middle child, they are not. For whatever reason, the media still obsesses over this team like it it was 1999 and the Sedins had just been drafted. Attendance is down, significantly as empty seats are visible throughout the lower bowl of Rogers Arena which was a foreign concept 5 years ago. I do not know what tv ratings are like, but when the NHL made the move to Rogers Sportsnet, ratings took a nose dive.
Stuck betwen the two are the BC Lions. This is a curious case, for a lot of reasons. Ticket prices are up, attendance is down and HDTV is the king. I remember when I starting going to games back in the early 90s when there were about 6000 people sitting in BC Place watching the Lions get trounced week in and week out, so I feel that I have some credibility when it comes to whining about empty seats. Now, I’ve heard every argument about people and their “reasons” for not going to a game, ranging from “nobody goes because it sucks” to “I prefer the NFL”. I can deal with the 2nd reason, however, I do watch both. Where is all this leading to? As we all know, the day before the Caps reclaimed the Cascadia Cup, the Lions were also at home, playing the Edmonton Eskimos. Being pretty active on Facebook, one of my friends started posting about the CFL game and it’s rules because they ESPN2 carries select games. So, in conjunction with a couple other friends who thought it would be cool, 12 of us, took in the Lions/Eskimos from Club Orange (Edgewater Lounge). Of the 12, only 3 were from Vancouver and only 1 (me) was an active season ticketholder. The right team won, but it was fun to watch these people watch a variation of a sport that some Americans think it a religion. Needless to say, a good time was had by all.
Getting back to why the Lions are still #2 in the city. It comes down to money. In 2008, TSN became the sole broadcaster of the CFL in Canada. This agreement has expanded and changed with technological advances, as to keep in touch with the way fans get their news. This current agreement also includes extensive coverage during Grey Cup weekend, believed to be worth close to $5 million/team each season expiring after the 2021 season.
Obviously, not everything is as rosy as it could be. After 2011, the team struggled and the season ticketholder base has subsequently shrunk. In response to the dwindling attendane, was to introduce usage of the secondary rook, to bring attendance. If there was one thing that could be counted on is that the Lions were going to outdraw the Caps night in and night out. Those days are gone.
That means, bringing up the proverbial rear.....the Vancouver Whitecaps. I know some will disagree with me rather passionately, but, I will maintain that the tarped off seats within the supporter sections should be a disconcerting. People will look at things like: attendance, Southsiders March to the Match and availability of merchandise as to why they think the Caps are 2nd. I put zero stock in attendance, as there is no more fickle fanbase in the Western Hemisphere. As for merch, it’s easy to sell when you have your own mini-storefront in the lobby of your front office. As for the Southsiders March to the Match, well, it’s organized and run by the Southsiders, and regardless of what I think of it, it is theirs.
In my years as a season ticketholder, my experience with the front office has been pretty cordial. I know there are people who have had their differences and ended relatrionships with the team.
I don’t see the Canucks being caught for #1, but the battle for 2nd and 3rd is just starting gain some traction.