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

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
54 more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty-two people in the region are in hospital with the virus, 11 of them in intensive care

Dr. Katherine Oldfield is a naturopathic physician, mother, and active member of the Nelson-West Kootenay chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. Photo: Submitted
COLUMN: Restore our Earth, restore our health

Katherine Oldfield writes about the priorities we need to have ahead of Earth Day

Air Canada will not be resuming flight to Castlegar anytime soon. Photo: Betsy Kline
Service to West Kootenay Regional Airport not included in Air Canada deal announcement

Air Canada will not be resuming flights to Castlegar at this time

While pharmacies across B.C. are using AstraZeneca for public immunizations for people 40 years of age and older, there is no availability currently in the Kootenays. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
No AstraZeneca vaccine availability in Kootenay pharmacies, says Interior Health

Vaccine has been opened up at pharmacies in other areas of the province to people 40 years of age and older

Idle Eyes, Tad Campbell (middle). Photo: Idle Eyes Facebook page
Idle Eyes frontman, Trail native, sentenced to house arrest

Campbell avoided jail time at the Feb. 5 sentencing in the Vancouver courthouse.

Four homes in Johnson Flats were at serious risk of falling into a neighbourhood section of the Kettle River, according to capital project manager Justin Dinsdale. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks shields riverside homes against erosion

Crews have built a modified dike along a section of the Kettle River in Johnson Flats

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

Using panels kept cold by water circulating within them, B.C. researchers compared thermal comfort in 60 of the world’s most populous cities, including Toronto. (Lea Ruefenacht)
B.C. researchers use air conditioning to combat spread of COVID particles

Dr. Adam Rysanek and his team have proven a new worthwhile system – a mixture of cooling panels and natural ventilation

Police road checks are coming for people travelling between regions while COVID-19 travel restrictions are in place. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. clarifies COVID-19 travel restrictions, Lower Mainland a single zone

Vehicle checks on highways, at ferry terminals to start Friday

Canadian driver Paul Tracy pulls out of the pits during the morning session at the Molson Indy in Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, July 26, 2003 (CP/Richard Lam)
Vancouver is considering hosting a Formula E race using electric cars

The race would be part of a three-day event focused on climate and sustainability

Most Read