Lions eager to get back to their own Place
By HOSEA CHEUNG, QMI Agency
|The new retractable roof installed at BC Place is shown close to completion in Vancouver, B.C., Sep. 7, 2011. (ANDY CLARK/Reuters)
VANCOUVER - The B.C. Lions are saying farewell to one home and eyeing a return to another.
Saturday's game against the Toronto Argonauts will be the Lions' last at Empire Field before moving back to B.C. Place -- or whatever its new name will be.
While the players say they'll miss the intimacy of the temporary stadium, they are looking forward to playing at the renovated downtown digs.
"I have a lot of good memories at B.C. Place so I can't wait to get back in there," said Geroy Simon, a member of the Lions since 2001. "I think for the guys who have been here for a few years ... (they) know the success we have had there and we're excited to get back."
Simon hasn't taken a tour of the soon-to-be completed, $563-million project -- which includes a retractable roof -- and doesn't want to. Instead, he'll wait until Sep. 30, when the Lions are home to the Edmonton Eskimos.
"I'm ready for the finished product," the veteran slotback said.
The Lions also are ready to put their mediocre record at Empire behind them. The team has four wins and nine losses in 1 1/2 seasons at their temporary home, with just one of those wins coming this year.
Coincidentally, their first regular season victory at Empire Field came against Toronto on Sept. 11, 2010, and they have a chance now to close it out with another win against the reeling Argonauts.
Quarterback Travis Lulay raved about Empire Field this week, even if he, too, has been looking forward to moving back to B.C. Place.
"It has been a lot of fun," he said. "We've had great weather, we've been fortunate that way. It has been a great getaway from B.C. Place. The biggest thing of playing at B.C. Place, especially for the veteran guys on this team, is that it's home to them.
"It's going to be a first-class state-of-the-art facility to get into."
About 23,000 tickets have been sold for the game Saturday and the Lions are hoping the weather and the historic nature of the match will make for a sellout.
Wally Buono, however, is focused on the Lions' performance as they look to win their third consecutive game after starting the season 1-6.
"It's a big game for us, especially with what went on on the weekend," Buono said, referring to the several upsets in the CFL. "For us to end on a good note (at Empire) would be a good gift to the fans and something that we need."