Stamps diggin' Lions' revamped digs

The renovated BC Place is reflected in the waters of False Creek in Vancouver, B.C., Aug. 28, 2011....

The renovated BC Place is reflected in the waters of False Creek in Vancouver, B.C., Aug. 28, 2011. (ALAIN-PIERRE HOVASSE/QMI Agency)

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:20 PM ET

CALGARY - They may have changed the roof and spruced up the facility from top to bottom, but the Calgary Stampeders expect one constant remains at B.C. Place.

It should be loud.

“When they fill the place up, it’s a big-time building,” said Stamps offensive co-ordinator Dave Dickenson, who played quarterback for the Lions (2003-07).

“I’m actually hoping it’s filled up.”

The past two days, the Stamps practiced with the annoying crowd noise pumped into the McMahon Stadium speakers, all in anticipation for about 40,000 screaming fans.

Many of the Stamps players watching on TV as the Lions beat the Edmonton Eskimos last Friday were simply in awe of the renovated dome, which got a $563-million upgrade right after the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Although the team flies into Vancouver Friday, they won’t see the new digs in person until Saturday.

Certainly, the video cameras will be out to get shots of the retractable roof and video scoreboard — the second-largest one in North America behind Cowboys Stadium in Dallas.

“For the first 30 minutes when we get there, we will walk on the field and get ooohed and aaahed,” quarterback Henry Burris said. “Then we will get ready to play.

“I would rather it be closed. If it’s a beautiful night, open that baby up.”

Stampeders defensive back Eric Fraser grew up in Burnaby, B.C., and his family held season tickets at the old place from the time he was in Grade 3 until he was about to graduate high school.

His best memories there are of winning junior bantam, bantam and midget championships on the worn-out carpet.

Fraser, who grew up idolizing receiver Geroy Simon (someone he will face Saturday), expects a much better playing experience this time.

The turf is new, the locker-rooms are upgraded, and the old pressurized system is gone. It’s also a lot brighter thanks to the open roof and better lighting.

“I think it will change it quite a bit with the new roof,” Fraser said. “The air pressure in the dome was hard to deal with.

“I’m thinking that will change. The atmosphere should be unbelievable because of the new stadium and the fact they’ve won six in a row.”

There is a rumour the roof will be open even if the weather isn’t pleasant. The building now has a drainage system that should whisk water away from the playing surface.

The open roof could actually affect the noise level. Under the old roof, the sound bounced around and created a hollow-sounding echo.

For Stampeders centre Tim O’Neill, he wouldn’t mind it being open to cut down on some of the racket the crowd will make when the Lions defence is on the field.

O’Neill grew up in Victoria and will have a few family members in attendance Saturday. He’s excited to see the spiffed-up place, which is now a landmark in all of Canada, not just Vancouver.

“If you like paying taxes, it’s nice,” O’Neill said with a laugh about the publicly-funded building.

“It’s a world-class city, so they needed a world-class facility. They definitely put the money into it.

“It used to feel like dead air, and it had a musty feel to it. It wasn’t that bright, and it felt old. This place looks nice now.”


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