Have fickle fans abandoned Leos?

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:22 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Three's a crowd. But is 33,000?

The B.C. Lions late-season skid appears to have the fickle fan flocking off in Vancouver.

Despite a sold-out Grey Cup game here next Sunday, the West final against the Edmonton Eskimos here this Sunday isn't going to draw anywhere near as many fans as last year's West final against the Saskatchewan Roughriders -- which drew 55,227.

"Yeah, I'm disappointed," said Lions CEO Bobby Ackles of the sales which sit at 33,000. Expectations are for fewer than 40,000.

The fact the Lions have lost six of their last seven games, figures the B.C. boss, is the big reason.

"I'm sure it has something to do with that," said Ackles as he watched his Lions practice in B.C. Place yesterday.

"We can't worry who comes out to the game," says Lions linebacker Carl Kidd. "We just hope the ones who come are the ones who make the most noise and the ones who aren't coming are the quiet ones."

The Lions practised with canned crowd noise here yesterday.

"Welcome to Vancouver," said Angus Reid, the Richmond, B.C., native who is in his fifth year with the Lions. "I grew up in this city. It's the way it is here. If you've got the biggest thing going on, they'll come out. But if things aren't going good ...

"It's really a testimonial to how much there is to do in this city. It's not like in some other cities in the league where there really isn't that much going on and everyone goes to the games regardless of how the team is doing. Here, you'd better be a winner.

"When I came here, it hit a low of 12,000. When I was a kid growing up here in the mid-80s, they had sellouts."

The big question is what happens if the Lions lose Sunday to the Eskimos.

In a past Grey Cup here, when the Lions lost the West final at home there were thousands of want ads offering Grey Cup tickets for sales in the papers on Tuesday morning of Grey Cup week.


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