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

Nav Canada will not be closing the tower at West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Nav Canada tower to remain open at West Kootenay Regional Airport

The organization was considering closing the tower

Dresses hang outside Nelson city hall as part of the REDress Project by Métis artist Jaime Black. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Nelson’s REDress Project exhibit vandalized

The REDress Project brings attention to missing and murdered Indigenous women

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 marks Earth Day by writing about the priorities we need to have

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

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP investigating explosion in Harewood also came across a still for making alcohol on property

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. sees 1,006 COVID-19 cases Thursday, ‘alarming’ 502 in hospital

Vaccine bookings for people aged 60 and older set to start

Shannon Zirnhelt, from left, her son Lockie, 3, Julia Zirnhelt, 13, and Ella Krus, 13, co-founders of Third Planet Crusade are featured in a music video set to air on Earth Day, April 22, 2021. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
B.C.-made music video launched in time for Earth Day 2021

Singer songwriter Shannon Zirnhelt worked with Third Planet Crusade on the project in the Cariboo

Ambulance crews have been busy with a record number of emergency overdose calls this Wednesday, April 21. (BC Emergency Health Services)
B.C. paramedics responded to a record 138 overdose calls in a single day

Wednesday’s calls included 48 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and 51 in Fraser Health

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. COVID-19 hotspots targeted as AstraZeneca vaccine runs low

17,000 appointments booked the first day for people aged 40 and up

Most Read