Pro-Eskimos billboard in Calgary defaced
By Angelique Rodrigues, QMI Agency
|Pattison Sign Group worker Al Lagasse carries a left-behind paint tray from a walk way beneath a vandalized sign outside McMahon Stadium in Calgary on Saturday, September 3, 2011. (Lyle Aspinall/QMI AGENCY)
A saucy sign touting the Edmonton Eskimos and erected on Calgary turf was vandalized Friday outside McMahon Stadium.
Calgary cops are investigating the crime.
“The poster was vandalized, and it is being investigated,” said Calgary police duty Insp. Paul Stacey, adding there are no suspects although cans of spray paint and rubber gloves left at the scene are being probed.
“Personally, I liked the billboard. It’s a football game, and it’s all in good fun.”
The Eskimos fired a cheeky shot with a bold billboard ahead of Monday’s Labour Day game.
The board depicted an Edmonton Eskimos fan riding a Calgary Stampeder fan’s back like a horse and originally read “EE-Hawwww! See you Monday Stamps fans.”
But sometime Friday night, the sassy saying was obliterated by a far more hostile message.
“F–– Esks” was discovered scrawled across the board in Stampeder red Saturday and officials were forced to remove it.
“We got a call this morning from the Stampeders organization about it, and our first concern was to get it down as quickly as possible,” said Duane Vienneau, vice president of marketing for the Eskimos. “We are disappointed that this has happened, but it did.”
Vienneau says the billboard was produced in good fun and reaction from fans seemed to be primarily positive.
“I think the majority of people from Calgary and Edmonton got it, laughed about it and it sparked a little excitement and rivalry between the fans,” he said. “It really wasn’t about the game or the players, it was about getting the fans excited about backing their teams.”
Unfortunately, it proved to be too much excitement for a few people who took it upon themselves to deface the sign with profanity, said Viennau Saturday.
“I think the message may have been intended in fun, and if they had written “Go, Stamps, go” we probably would have left it up,” he said. “But because there was profanity written, though misspelled, it had to come down.”
The Eskimos (5-3) are currently chasing the Stampeders (6-2) for the CFL’s West Division lead and Eskimos spokesman Dave Jamieson said it’s only natural for fan tension to be rising.
“There is a lot of history between these two teams and we are matching up quite well this year,” he said. “That’s increasing everyone’s excitement and interest in Monday’s game.”
Meanwhile, Saskatchewan has been poking fun at the Eskimos on Edmonton billboards for years.
Last year, the Esks retaliated when Saskatchewan was in town by commenting on the too-many-men penalty that cost Saskatchewan the 2009 Grey Cup, said Viennau.
“We’ve had signs like “Rider Nation is invading” up for years near our stadium, and we poked fun at them last year,” he said. “And we thought, our real rivalry is with Calgary, why don’t we have some fun with the Battle of Alberta.”