Lots of memories in Lions' Empire

BOB MACKIN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:35 AM ET

The grandstand, scoreboard and horribly hard Tartan Turf field are all gone, but playing conditions dominate memories of Empire Stadium.

Head coach and general manager Wally Buono brought the 3-5 B.C. Lions to practice at grassy Empire Bowl at Hastings Park's southeast corner on Sunday. Buono won his first Grey Cup there in 1974 as a Montreal Alouettes' linebacker against the Edmonton Eskimos.

"I'm trying to imagine how the stadium was configured," Buono said. "Most of the time we came here we played Friday nights and it was usually a foggy and cold rainy night."

Canadian football hall of fame kicker Lui Passaglia played at Empire in high school for the Notre Dame Jugglers and college for the Simon Fraser University Clan before his 1976 Lions' debut.

"The only negative thing we could say about the facility here in those days was the (Tartan Turf)," Passaglia said. "Under the layer of turf was cement. When you landed on that stuff, you felt it."

The other football was the magnet that drew kicker Paul McCallum to Empire.

"I was playing soccer, I was here watching Bob Lenarduzzi and Carl Valentine sliding down the puddles," McCallum said. "I miss the stadium."


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