Proof of the enduring value of Langley Events Centre comes with news that the National Lacrosse League will relocate its Everett franchise there, for a minimum of five years. The team will be known as the Vancouver Stealth.
Vancouver had an NLL team from 2002-04 at General Motors Place, but has not been part of the league since that time.
Professional lacrosse is not a sport on the scale of hockey, baseball or football, but it does have a significant number of fans. Lacrosse is an exciting game to watch, but many sports fans remain unfamiliar with it. Once they have seen a game, they often want to come back for more.
The Events Centre has hosted several NLL events in the past two years, and all have been highly successful. Most recently, it hosted the NLL Champion’s Cup final on short notice, when the Everett arena was unavailable.
The three games that have been held here, including one pre-season game, all sold out. This level of interest clearly convinced the Stealth owners and the league that Langley would be a logical place to relocate to.
Lacrosse has a long and storied history in the Lower Mainland, and the Western Lacrosse Association has been established for many years. WLA games are played from May to August, and would not conflict with the NLL schedule, which runs from January to April. In fact, many NLL players also play in the WLA.
Langley Thunder are the WLA team from Langley. They also play at LEC and attract decent crowds. However, they are one of five WLA teams in the Lower Mainland.
The NLL franchise would be the only one in B.C. and would draw fans from all across the region. Its drawing power has been proven at the three previous games here.
Langley Events Centre has proven to be capable of hosting many large events. The B.C. high school basketball championships have moved to LEC from Vancouver and have been very successful. Major curling events have been held there, as have national university sports championships.
The LEC is well-run, centrally-located and is capable of hosting big events. It has lots of parking.
It is one of Langley’s most important assets. The coming of the Stealth to Langley proves that.