Grey Cup's a hot ticket on Left Coast

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:32 AM ET

Not that the Winnipeg Blue Bombers will be anywhere near the Left Coast town come November but this year's Grey Cup in Vancouver already promises to be at least a box-office success.

More than 57,000 ducats have already been sold, just short of a sellout (59,196) at B.C. Place. That would rank in the top five Grey Cup crowds of all time.

Far cry

"We expect to be sold out in the first week (of October) or perhaps right after the Thanksgiving Day long weekend," Scott Ackles, the GM of the 2005 Grey Cup committee, told the Edmonton Sun.

That's a far cry from the last time Vancouver played host in 1999 when the CFL's showcase event drew only 45,118, the fourth-lowest crowd in the last 30 years -- and Vancouverites barely noticed the shindig in their own backyard.

"It really was a different world in 1999," said Ackles, son of B.C. Lions president/CEO Bob Ackles. "Vancouver got labelled as being a 'No Fun City' for a lot of years.

"We want this to kick off the five-year countdown to the (2010) Olympics (in Vancouver)."

Vancouver plans to revive the Grey Cup Parade and three city blocks on the doorstep of the stadium will be cordoned off where family-related activities and interactive games will be held.

"It's the midway of our event," Ackles said.

Winnipeg will play host to next year's Grey Cup.

POX ON PLAYER: B.C. Lions safety Barron Miles missed a game two weeks ago because he had chicken pox.

"I was like, come on, it can't be chicken pox," an incredulous Miles told the Vancouver Sun. "I was wondering why I was so tired. I would come home from practice and go to bed."

Then, dots appeared on his face.

"When I got home, I called the doctor," he said. "The next day, they told me I had chicken pox."

Miles, who returned for B.C.'s last game, was then quarantined so it would not spread to his teammates.

"It's the first time I've ever lost a player to chicken pox," said Lions head coach/GM Wally Buono, who thought he had seen it all over his lengthy CFL career.

HASHMARKS: Ottawa is hoping to get WR Yo Murphy back from injury for tomorrow night's match versus Toronto ... The Renegades, by the way, plan to extend their $99 season ticket package special through the 2006 season ... Lions OL Bobby Singh has decided to run for a school trustee post in Richmond, B.C.

AROUND THE LEAGUE...

B.C. Lions

* QB Dave Dickenson donated $500 for each of his three TD passes when the Lions beat Montreal to the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund.

Calgary Stampeders

* With their 45-23 victory over the Ottawa Renegades, the Stamps improved to 7-6 and are above .500 for the first time since 2000, the last year they hosted a CFL playoff game.

Edmonton Eskimos

* Embattled PK Sean Fleming, who was reinstated after being stripped of his placekicking duties, is just 11 points shy of Dave Cutler's all-time points record of 2,237.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats

* Legendary receiver Earl Winfield, Hamilton's all-time touchdown leader with 87, will have his name added to the team's Wall of Honour, during halftime of the club's last regular-season home game against Montreal.

Montreal Alouettes

* With seven catches for 184 yards versus Winnipeg, rookie WR Kerry Watkins exceeded the 1,000-yard mark in receiving this season with 1,032 (second in the CFL).

Ottawa Renegades

* Lonie Glieberman's latest brainstorm is an interactive 'Score a Date with a Cheerleader' contest. Candidates must provide written reasons as to why they are the most deserving choice.

Saskatchewan Roughriders

* OL Charles Thomas is anxious to get another crack at the Lions this week now that the Eskies proved them fallible. "I wouldn't care if they were 11-1 or 12-0."

Toronto Argonauts

* The son of former Buffalo Bills receiver J.D. Hill, Hakim (The Thrill) Hill, was recently arrested again on suspicion of driving under the influence in the U.S. The Argos had already suspended the running back.


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