It’s been a solid start to the summer for BC Place.
The dome – which received a much-needed renovation and, really, revolution in 2011 – celebrated its 30th birthday with the Vancouver Whitecaps on June 19. That night, the Caps downed Chivas USA 3-1 amidst a throng of white and blue Southsiders and the ritual “You fat ba*tard!” howl behind the opposing goalie.
On Thursday, with the stadium instead outfitted with what could easily be called its now-most recognizable shade – the Lions’ vibrant orange tangerine crush – the venue hosted the home opener to Vancouver’s 60th season in the CFL.
And oh, what a night it was.
The Lions, tabled as Bodog’s odds-on league favourite to win the franchise’s second Grey Cup in three seasons, controlled the play, the ball, and nearly everything under BC Place’s receded rooftop, dominating the Toronto Argonauts and sending the defending champs packing, 24-16.
It was convincing. It was thorough. It was surgical.
It was the exact kind of victory the Leos needed to not only pull to 1-1 on the season, but to also forget their last two games, a loss in Week 1 and a loss in last year’s CFL West final – both to the Calgary Stampeders.
Eventually, the Argos offence worked their way onto the scoresheet. Toronto quarterback Ricky Ray found the field and ended with 215 yards and 28 completions on 39 attempts. No touchdowns, though. You need touchdowns.
Defending CFL Most Outstanding Player Chad Owens – diminutive but dominant – was shucking and juking all night, but never once broke free on his returns. He did post a game-high 111 yards receiving, but Owens was the only man recognizable on Toronto’s side of scrimmage.
Andre Durie was second with 37 yards – not terrible but not effective, either – and Chad Kackert was held to 20 yards, a far cry from his 132 in Week 1.
Meanwhile, Lions tailback Andrew Harris was named the game’s offensive first star, running wild for a touchdown, a few key separations into the secondary, and a total 103 yards. Receiver Nick Moore led BC with 107 yards, followed by Emmanuel Arceneaux with 50 and Harris with 49.
Quarterback Travis Lulay – the 2011 CFL Most Outstanding Player – hucked for 249 yards and a touchdown.
Basically, BC was better. Even when Toronto pushed late, bringing the score to within eight points with under a minute to go, the Lions recaptured complete control.
And they did it under a sea of orange, be it the towels, the fibre optics of the stadium’s many HD screens, or even the cushion colour of the empty nosebleed sections.
It was a perfect night for the Leos. A 60th birthday in grand fashion, in a stadium fit to fill.
Terry Fox’s bust looks out on Robson Street, prior to Thursday’s home opener for the BC Lions. On Thursday, it was announced that Fox – whose parents still reside in Burnaby – will have a special exhibit dedicated to him and his ‘Marathon of Hope’ at Ottawa’s Canadian Museum of History.
The BC Lions pregame show kicks off the team’s 60th season, and the roof was open.