Photos by Aaron S. Terry, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.00
BC Place 777 Pacific Blvd Vancouver, BC V6B 4Y8 Canada
Year Opened: 1983 Capacity: 54,500
This is the Place
BC Place in Vancouver, British Columbia opened in 1983, and was built as part of Canada’s preparations for the 1986 World’s Fair. The venue has been home to the CFL’s BC Lions since its construction, but was also used as the main stadium for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Originally built as a dome with an air-supported roof (similar to the old H.H.H. Metrodome in Minneapolis, MN), BC Place underwent an extensive renovation about seven years ago, and now sports a retractable roof supported by cables.
Besides the BC Lions, BC Place is also home to the MLS’ Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
Food & Beverage 5
BC Place has an incredible selection of food and beverage options, which is especially impressive given the typically low turnout during Lions games (more on that later). Besides all of the typical fare, such as hot dogs, burgers, and chicken tenders, you can also find local favorites such as Poutine, as well as more interesting fare such as pulled pork mac & cheese and chicken & waffle sandwiches (basically a chicken sandwich with waffles as the bun).
BC Place does not have any generic stands, per se, but instead has a variety of concessions options with interesting names, such as Thirsty Pigeon or Beast on Fire, each of which sells a different fare that sort of relates to its name. For example, Lionsgate Grill has burgers, Beast on Fire has chicken and prime rib, and The Poutinerie has (you guessed it) poutine. Other stands offer grilled cheese, Philly cheesesteak, vegetarian tacos, salads, and even veggie bowls, and you can also find a wide variety of the typical snacks, such as peanuts, jerky, potato chips, donuts, ice cream, and cotton candy, as well as many others. Food items range from $3.25 for the smallest items, all the way up to $14.75 for the prime rib.
The drink selection at BC Place is equally as wide as the food selection – on the concourse you can find pretty much anything you can think of, including soda, bottled water, lemonade, fruit juices, tea, coffee, hot chocolate, Red Bull, you name it, as well as plenty of beer, wine, and mixed drinks. Beer is available on draft or in bottles and cans, and there are lots of options, including standbys like Budweiser, as well as favorites like Mike’s Hard Lemonade or Okanagan ciders, or even craft beers such as Stanley Park. Non-alcoholic drinks start at around $3.50, while beer and alcohol start at $8.
The BC Lions average around 20,000 fans per home game. While this has definite benefits in terms of making it easy to get around, the lack of attendance is pretty obvious once you get inside the stadium.
The most glaring sign of the low turnout is the upper deck, which is screened off because seats in that section are not sold during Lions games. That said, there won’t be much in the way of crowd noise, but the staff deserves credit for bringing in lots of other entertainment elements. For example, there is a guy with a tambourine who works with the mascot to rev up the crowd, there are plenty of team flags and other Lions décor, and the Felions Dance Team is on hand to entertain the crowd. In addition, there are games for the kids in the concourse, and even a music stage outside, which features local bands on game days. Also, all of the seats in the stadium are chair backs, which is a big plus.
See the BC Lions coming onto the field here:
BC Place is literally only a few blocks from Vancouver city centre, and is right on the water, so there is plenty to see and do nearby. There are dozens of restaurants within walking distance, including all types of cuisine, so you should easily be able to find something to your liking, including a craft beer market on the other side of False Creek. The only downside is that this section of town will always be pretty crowded, so you will definitely have to deal with some traffic (pedestrian and otherwise).
If you are looking for something to do before or after the game, there are plenty of attractions nearby. For example, Science World at TELUS is within walking distance of BC Place, as is Edgewater Casino. In addition, Stanley Park, with its famed totem poles and other statuary, is only a short drive to the north. You can also find several museums within a mile or so, and Stanley Park boasts its own aquarium. There are also plenty of hotels within walking distance of BC Place, although they tend to be on the very pricey side, being in downtown.
The fans that show up at BC Lions games are really into it, and a lot of them dress up in team gear. You will catch many of them slapping their boom sticks together with reckless abandon, or waving giant orange flags they brought from home. The only downside is that there are just too few of them, so the stadium looks fairly empty; the staff may need to come up with some additional promotions to boost ticket sales, or somehow improve the teams’ on-field performance.
Once you make your way to BC Place, getting around is a cinch, thanks in part to the lackluster turnout, but mainly due to a well-designed venue; the oval design allows plenty of room in the concourse, and there are concessions on both sides of the aisle, making it easy to find what you want. In addition, the bathrooms are LITERALLY enormous, with more than enough stalls to accommodate everyone; this is not surprising given that the venue was designed with World’s Fair and Olympic-size crowds in mind.
Unfortunately, getting TO BC Place presents much more of a challenge. I mentioned the heavy traffic earlier, but the lack of parking is an even bigger issue. There is no parking to speak of outside the venue, except for the parking garages dotted around the city, some of which are many blocks away. If you are staying in the area, you may be better off just parking at your hotel and walking from there. Or, take advantage of Vancouver’s public transit options, which include buses, trains, and ferries.
Return on Investment 3
Tickets to BC Lions games start at $35 per ticket in the lower bowl – remember that upper level seats are not currently being sold – but they do have specials in the summer for kids ($5 each). Concessions are probably a little on the high side, but not terribly out of line for a professional sports team, although when you factor in parking (if you can find it) you could be looking at a pretty steep outing depending on how many are in your group.
Still, football is always a good time, so if you are not a diehard Lions fans, you may want to save your BC Place visit for a day when an opponent you really like is in town.
BC Place has a really great design, which is best enjoyed when lit up at night. Also, the staff gets credit for trying to add so many fun elements to the experience.
Vancouver is a fun city to visit, with lots to do in the area. While BC Place may no longer be the jewel of the CFL, it could still offer a fun time if you are in the area.