Being a part of history at Empire Field while helping spread it through social media

Empire Field: Still getting ready

The radio day job always gets me into places around Vancouver that I would probably not wander through if it weren’t for the opportunities that keep coming up, and Empire Field is no exception.

TEAM Radio is the official broadcaster of the BC Lions, so during our initial test setup for the first home game back in June, I brought my camera along to hopefully snap some photos of the field before the public got to wander in for a peek. What I didn’t anticipate was that while the first event to be held at this temporary stadium was just days away, workers were all over the place, still getting ready.

Empire Field: Still getting ready Empire Field: Still getting ready

While BC Place[wiki] gets a new roof downtown, Empire Field[wiki] has been built on the former site of Empire Stadium[wiki], which used to be the home of the BC Lions Canadian Football League team prior to moving into the dome in the early 80’s.

The crazy aspect to this stadium is that it’s completely temporary, but I find that hard to tell at times.

Aside from the field turf and the four sets of lights at each corner of the stadium, all of this will be gone by the summer of 2011. The BC Lions get one full season to call this place temporarily home, and the Vancouver Whitecaps FC will start their inaugural MLS season on the same field.

Empire Field: Still getting ready Empire Field: Still getting ready

Empire Field: Still getting ready

In all actuality, I’m not an overly huge football fan. I like to watch it, but I don’t actively seek it out. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the sport by any means. I’ve certainly let the CFL grow on me, even though punting the ball on 3rd down continues to throw me off from time to time.

What can I say? I grew up in small town America where Friday nights belong to high school football, Saturday’s are for college ball(Go Hawks!), and Sunday was NFL. Four downs(CFL has three), the flags are yellow(CFL flags are orange), and the only time you can score a single point is kicking the ball through the uprights after a touchdown(I’m still confused by all the various ways you can score a single point in the CFL, but oh well).

I encourage football fans with the NFL Network in the states to try and catch some of the CFL broadcasts they will be running this summer. Let the rules and twelve men on the field be the second thing you pay attention to. The action is what you should focus on.

Empire Field: Still getting ready

It’s really tough to comprehend that this stadium will only exist for barely over a year. With the mountains as a gorgeous backdrop and the close proximity of the fans to the field, this isn’t just a great place to watch football or soccer. I could see this being a great outdoor concert venue as well.

Empire Field: Still getting ready

Whatever happens to this place in the future, it’s a little rewarding to be involved in a tiny piece of Vancouver’s history. Just like people talk about Expo ’86 or when the Olympics were here, I can say I was there, running around the field, ducking into the double-wide trailers that make up the locker rooms, and hauled plenty of equipment up and down stairs to make the radio side of things happen.

Interestingly enough, my photos have made the rounds on a handful of sites promoting the environmental sustainability aspect of the stadium, most noticeably the recycled tires that makes up the field turf. uses my photos of Empire Stadium
Vancouver Soccer Stadium Made With 22,000 Recycled Tires
by Bridgette Meinhold, 06/29/10

Inhabitat used my photos to highlight the use of “22,000 recycled tires, amounting to 346,000 pounds of crumb rubber,” in the field turf that makes up the playing surface of Empire Field. While that’s pretty cool in itself, the playing field can actually be altered in terms of response by either vacuuming up those tiny bits of rubber or adding more to change the amount of bounce you get from the field.

They found my photos on Flickr and published them in a post with proper attribution. That’s social networking done right.

Italian site uses my photos of Empire Stadium
Lo stadio da calcio di Vancouver costruito con 22.000 pneumatici fuori uso

I was contacted directly about using my photos in this post, and that request was in English. As you can tell by the title of this post, all of this site is in Italian. Ecopnues is an Italian website that focuses on the use of recycled tires, taking a cue from the previous post I’ve already highlighted.

What fascinates me is the theme of sustainability being immensely popular around the world. Empire Field certainly has its critics, but in the bigger picture, the long term benefits to the communities around this area is viewed positively by many.

Rebecca also has a post with many of my photos as well as her trip to see the field on the day it was unveiled to the media.

Empire Field is a limited time experience and well worth it. If you go and are the adventurous type, get some seats in the end zones. Space was so limited in the construction of this stadium that they couldn’t put nets up to prevent balls from going into the stands.

How’s that for a souvenir? Well, that is if you’re willing to work for it.

Why sports are pretty cool some times

I was at BC Lions vs. Saskatchewan Rough Riders game this past Friday, working the radio side of the play by play broadcast from BC Place. I’m not the biggest football fan, but the passion and excitement of the game is always what draws me into watching a game from time to time.

Finding this clip on YouTube, this game had two great elements to it. A ridiculous comedy of a play that results in a touchdown combined with pure athletic power on display in the field goal block towards the end, the real reason I’m posting this. Seeing that happen on the field in real time was amazing.

A beef with the Oscar night of ads

Another Super Bowl post, I know, but there is only one reason why I truly watch it. It’s the commercials. I think in a previous life, I was an advertising guy of some sort, and at some other time, I was a professor of mass communication. Needless to say, I like to dissect a lot of the things I see.

There is a lot of talk that this year’s ads were disappointing, and I’m not here to argue that either way. What does bother me are two ads in particular, mostly in relation to the historic event of having both coaches of each team being of African American descent. Truly a momentous occasion and reason to celebrate another point in history. Albeit a professional football game, but historical nonetheless.

Nothing makes the significance a little less impactual when major companies find a way to use this to advertise their products. Coca-Cola and Frito-Lay both did it. They spent millions of dollars to layer a soft drink and snack food along side the accomplishments of American civil rights. That way you can feel better about consuming their junk food during the big game. Those chip crumbs on your belly are more than just that. Those leftovers for the vacuum are major achievements in humanity. It’s a warm, fuzzy moment, but it’s still an ad.

Yes, it’s Black History Month. Drink Coke. Buy chips.

Update: It’s gets worse. They are doing MRI’s of test subject’s brains while they watch Super Bowl ads to determine who the true winner is this year. Wouldn’t you know it, it’s Coca-Cola. There’s so many things flawed with this, I’m not even going to start.

Prince brings it at the Super Bowl

Matt was quicker to the draw, but I am in complete agreement. Prince‘s performance in the Super Bowl halftime was spectacular, probably one of the best in my memory. U2’s show in 2002 was pretty excellent, but this one was on a much different level.

I had a buddy I went to high school with that was a huge Prince[wiki] fan. When the clock hit midnight for the start of 1999, he put “Jam of the Year” on the stereo when all the rest of the world hellaciously over played “1999”. After years of being witness to my sister’s love affair with the guy’s music, it was at that point when I started to see the genius of the man.

The halftime show made everything I’ve thought about Prince even more evident. Wicked on the guitar, amazing vocals, and one hell of a showman. Pyrotechnics? Ok, that was cool. What I loved more was having a marching band on the field in addition to him on the stage. Other than that, it was a huge stage, a backing band, couple dancers, and Prince at the mic. He rocked it. And who knew that a Foo Fighters cover could be so damn good?

Thanks, Prince. You made it not painful to watch the halftime show of the Super Bowl.

Already available on YouTube, here is one video of the performance, and here is another.

I almost called it

No big secret that I’m not the biggest football fan in the world, but I do enjoy catching games from time to time. The Chiefs got eliminated, so the season is really over for a part-time fan like me. It’s tough to not be a Seattle fan in Vancouver though. And to tell you the complete truth, I’m with Rebecca on this one. We both like the color scheme on their uniforms, and that’s the main reason we dig the Seahawks. Other than that, couldn’t tell you much about the team.

Their playoff game against Dallas was on while she was cooking the other night. Late in the 4th quarter, Dallas was down by one point and setting up for a field goal attempt. Easy three points for the lead with just over a minute left to play in the game. I pretty much said that the season was over for Seattle. A bummer for sure, but just before the snap, I looked over at Rebecca and said, “it would be outstanding if they blocked the kick.” I didn’t expect this.

They played the botched snap over and over again, showing the guy who screwed the pooch, Romo, sitting there with his head down. Yeah, great for Seattle, but I’m surprised that Romo wasn’t crying somewhere in a corner. We both felt so horrible for him. You could just feel his pain.

I know I’m late to the post here, but the replay of that gets me every time. True pain might come next week for Seattle. Chicago’s next up, and the game is in the windy city. Odds are, my brother will say that the Bears will whoop the Seahawks.

That and a mutant form of football

For those around Vancouver, we all know that the BC Lions are playing the Montreal Alouettes for the Grey Cup[wiki] this afternoon. Actually, they are playing right now as I’m writing this. -3C in Winnipeg. Looks damn cold, but BC’s holding in there, 16-0 in the 2nd quarter.

Now, let me put this into perspective for my friends and family back in the states. The CFL is just like the NFL, but Canadian football[wiki] is slightly different than American football[wiki]. It goes a little bit beyond how Robin Williams once put it, “We’ve got twelve men, we have a longer field. You have fun, enjoy!”

Mutant form, maybe. The interesting fact is that the history of Canadian football just barely out dates that of the American form of the sport. Yes, bigger field and more men, but there’s other things that start popping up as you watch a game. I’ve barely watched a whole game, catching nearly the entire second half of last week’s game between Saskatchewan and BC for the western championship. I’m not the biggest football fan in the world, but I do pay attention from time to time. My mainstays have to be the Iowa Hawkeyes in the world of college football, the Kansas City Chiefs for the NFL.

Let me list off the things that still trip me up a little bit. Penalty flags are orange, not yellow. The defense lines up a full yard off the line of scrimmage, not a football length off the line. No fair catch, just a mandatory five-yard buffer zone until a player touches the ball on a punt or kick-off. Three downs to move the ball ten yards for a first down, and that’s something that constantly gets me. Second and long is a big deal, and third down is the punt, field goal, or go-for-it down.

Also, -3C is 26F. This would be like playing a game of football in Green Bay. That should put that into a better perspective for folks back in the states. There’s more differences in the game, and if you really want to get more of a side by side comparison, check out this Wikipedia entry for a comparison of Canadian and American football. Continue reading “That and a mutant form of football”