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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Working the first BC Lions game felt like being a part of Vancouver history. I know I’m not from here, but this little boy (and his sister is in the other mascot’s arm) made me appreciate this day a little bit more. He was absolutely beaming to hug Leo.
And let’s be honest, this guy in a mascot outfit is simply a marketing tool of the football club. He gets the crowd pumped up, trots around on the field to reinforce the imagery of the team everyone in the stands are cheering for, and keeps the kids coming back for more and more.
Even when you understand all too well that there is a hefty business reason for Leo’s existence, it’s this one moment that you have to forget this.
In ten or twenty years, this little boy will recount the one year they whipped up a stadium in 111 days for there to be professional, Canadian football to be played here for just one season in Vancouver.
When all the stands are tore down and all that remains is the legacy of an artificial turf field and the four sets of lights, he might recount how his parents took him to a game one day, and even though the Lions lost in the final seconds of the first game to be played in the history of this temporary stadium, he even got to meet Leo and give him a big hug.
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.