BC Place Stadium in a photo posted to cisc-icca.ca.

BC Place Stadium in a photo posted to cisc-icca.ca.

BC Place, Olympic Stadium officials express NFL game interest

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league has set its sights on playing in Canada as part of it expanding its regular season from 16 games to 17

Operators of Montreal’s Olympic Stadium and Vancouver’s BC Place say they are interested in exploring opportunities to host NFL games.

The provincial body that runs Olympic Stadium for the Quebec government and the provincial Crown corporation that runs BC Place said in separate statements Wednesday the NFL could be a good fit for their facilities.

On Tuesday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league has set its sights on playing in Canada as part of it expanding its regular season from 16 games to 17. Starting in 2022, every franchise will play a game internationally at least once every eight years.

The NFL says it will focus initially on playing games in Canada, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Europe and South America.

Most of the biggest crowds in CFL history have been at Olympic Stadium, with the league-high being 69,093 for a Montreal Alouettes game in 1977.

The Alouettes now play at outdoor Molson Stadium, a smaller venue.

“We’re always open for opportunities to host sporting events,” Alain Larochelle, vice-president of business development for Olympic Stadium operator Olympic Park, said in a statement. “The Montreal Olympic Stadium has a rich history with North American football, especially with the CFL, the Grey Cup and the Montreal Alouettes, who still hold the record for the largest sport attendance in the history of the stadium.

“We would be very interested in hosting an NFL game and we are eager to show the numerous planned investments and the many possibilities of the Montreal Olympic Stadium to the promoters around the globe.”

BC Place, which is operated by B.C. Pavilion Corporation, released a similar statement.

“The NFL’s international game scheduling plan is an exciting and interesting development for sports fans in Canada,” the statement said.

“As British Columbia’s premier, best-in-class stadium with a successful track record hosting some of North America’s greatest sporting events and live entertainment, BC Place is ideally suited to hosting major events of this scale and format. While no discussions have been entered into at this time, we look forward to exploring any potential opportunities this announcement offers for BC Place and football fans in B.C.”

Meanwhile, an Edmonton spokesperson said the city would be open to hosting the NFL at Commonwealth Stadium, but has not been approached about the possibility.

Officials at Toronto’s Rogers Centre did not immediately respond to an interview request.

Olympic Stadium, BC Place, Commonwealth Stadium and Rogers Centre are Canada’s biggest stadiums that can host football.

The idea of playing an NFL regular-season game in his hometown is something that definitely appeals to Montreal’s Benjamin St-Juste. The six-foot-four, 200-pound cornerback at the University of Minnesota is projected as a third- to fourth-round selection in this year’s draft.

“It would be amazing,” St-Juste told reporters during a videoconference Wednesday, the day before he’s scheduled to audition for scouts at Minnesota’s pro day. “That would be great representation for Canadian football and Canadian players.

“The whole family, friends would be able to come see. That would be a great opportunity for me.”

The NFL played a full season in 2020, while the CFL cancelled its campaign because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CFL announced recently it is in discussions with the American-based XFL about a possible partnership.

“While we have a great deal of respect for the NFL, we’re focused on our own schedule as we busily prepare for our return to the field in 2021,” the CFL said in a statement when asked about the NFL’s comments by The Canadian Press.

The NFL has held numerous exhibition games in Canada, but the Buffalo Bills were the only team to play regular-season contests north of the border. They staged one regular-season game annually from 2008 to 2013 at Rogers Centre as part of the Bills Toronto Series, an eight-game format (later reduced to seven) conceived by former Bills owner Ralph Wilson, Ted Rogers of Rogers Communications and Larry Tanenbaum of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.

The league has played at least one game every year (except last year) in London, England, since 2007 and has staged three games in Mexico in recent years.

Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa, Hamilton and Winnipeg have hosted NFL pre-season games.

Winnipeg did so most recently in 2019, but it wasn’t a good night for game organizers.

The game between the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers was played on a shortened field because of concerns about the turf in the end zones.

Minutes prior to the opening play, the Packers announced they would not dress 33 players.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bears are waking up hungry and starting to forage, Conservation Officer Service said on April 9. Prince Residents are advised to keep garbage in sealed containers to lessen bear attraction. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Keep bears wild – they are not teddy bears

Conservation Officer Service warns bears are waking up hungry

Prince Rupert couple Alvin Tait and Loni Martin have postponed their wedding two times due to COVID-19 affecting the marriage rates in Prince Rupert. (Photo: supplied/L.Martin)
No marriages in Prince Rupert in 2021 so far

Weddings down 23.9% in P.R. since COVID-19 with B.C. wedding industry loss at $158 million

Three North Coast organizations are granted funding to promote multiculturalism and support anti-racism, Jennifer Rice MLA announced on April 8. Conrad Elementary School students recognized the first Black Shirt Day on January 15, 2021, to advocate for anti-racism. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
North Coast organizations to benefit from anti-racism funding

$944,000 granted in provincial funding to aid multiculturalism

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has suspended indoor dining at restaurants and pubs until at least April 19 in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. sets new COVID-19 daily record with 1,293 cases Thursday

New order allows workplace closures when infections found

The new 3,500 hectare conservancy in Tahltan territory is located next to Mount Edziza Provincial Park. (BC Parks Photo)
New conservancy protects sacred Tahltan land near Mount Edziza Provincial Park

Project is a collaboration between Skeena Resources, conservation groups and the TCG

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

As of Saturday, April 10, people born in 1961 are the latest to be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. (Black Press files)
B.C. residents age 60+ can now register to get their COVID-19 vaccine

Vaccine registration is now open to people born in 1961 or earlier

A new saline gargle test, made in B.C., will soon be replacing COVID-19 nasal swab tests for kids. (PHSA screenshot)
Take-home COVID-19 tests available for some B.C. students who fall ill at school

BC Children’s Hospital plans to provide 1,200 kits to Vancouver district schools this April

Ruming Jiang and his dog Chiu Chiu are doing fine following a brush with hypothermia that saw several people work together to get them out of the Fraser River near Langley’s Derby Reach Park on March 25, 2021 (Special to the Advance Times)
Man finds men who rescued him from drowning in B.C.’s Fraser River

A grateful Ruming Jiang says he will thank them again, this time in person when the pandemic ends

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Lily Copeland alleges coach Barney Williams would stand close to her and speak aggressively in the sauna

Librarian Katie Burns with the Fraser Valley Regional Libraries poses for a photo in Chilliwack on June 18, 2019. Monday, April 12, 2021 is Library Workers’ Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 11 to 17

Library Workers Day, That Sucks! Day, and Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day are all coming up this week

Most Read