Old Empire provides winning feeling

GERRY MODDEJONGE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:14 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- What was old is new again for the B.C. Lions.

Head coach Wally Buono has one fond memory of the old Empire Stadium location that stands out from all the rest.

"All I know is I was in maybe the last Grey Cup here," said Buono, a linebacker and punter for 10 years with the Montreal Alouettes, who won the Grey Cup in 1974 and '77.

"We played here in '74 against the Eskimos and the Eskimos were heavily favoured and we beat them here. I remember it was wet, but that's all I remember."

It's been 10,088 days since the last CFL game was held at Empire Stadium, on Nov. 6, 1982, but has plenty of memories for fans who watched the Lions play there since 1954.

Now reconstructed as Empire Field, a 27,500-seat temporary stadium, the Lions will return to their former den for the 2010 season while B.C. Place Stadium gets fitted with a retractable roof.

"It's a great atmosphere to come and play," said Lions pivot Casey Printers. "It's definitely going to be something that we're proud of.

"This is a very nice stadium for it being temporary and I just think the fans are going to be treated to something fantastic. It will be great to come out and support the B.C. Lions and have a front-row seat because there are no bad seats in the house."

But the new digs offer something for everyone.

"You've got a new facility, you've got a new fresh start for everybody," Printers said.

Veteran slotback Geroy Simon said you can't judge a stadium by its cover.

"It's a really good place right now," he said.

"When you're on the outside you're not sure what you're going to see when you come in, but when you come in it looks like a really nice facility. It's small and it's intimate but it looks first class."


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