BC Place is set to host Canada’s biggest Men’s National teams’ soccer game in over 20 years on Friday night, as they welcome CONCACAF power Mexico into Vancouver. This match is scheduled ahead of the crucial World Cup Qualifying game and approximately 50,000 seats have been sold and according to people close to the event, most will be Canadian. This is good news considering that this event hasn’t been this closely followed in previous qualifying cycles. The fact that locals are finally coming out to support the National Team shows not only the importance of the game Friday, but also the importance that it has to British Columbia.
Nothing against the CFL or MLS, but those leagues aren’t really followed outside of North America. However, World Cup Qualifying is followed not only in the region, but other parts of world as well. The fact that it’s Javier Hernández’s Mexico team playing makes this occasion distinghuised. For those of you who don’t know, Hernández has played for the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid before finding himself with Bayer Leverkusen this year. Therefore, Hernández’s name is known not only around North America, but also in Europe.
To put this in perspective of how rare the occasion will be for British Columbia. Typically, crowds of over 50,000 might happen a half a dozen times per decade. Yes, the Grey Cup when BC hosts it will always be sold out, the BC – Saskatchewan West Final sometimes will reach over 50,000 (most notably in 2004) and the same can be said for last year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup, but those events are few and far between.
Furthermore, BC Place is ready to host this national-wide event. It was only six years ago, where talk arose to demolish the stadium after the conclusion of the 2010 Winter Olympics. The Vancouver municipality and BC government, however, readily conducted a $544 Million renovation to the stadium. It was moments like last summer, that allowed Americans to bolster Canada’s economy. Without BC Place, the accommodation of the Women’s World Cup in Vancouver wouldn’t have been possible.
Whenever Vancouver holds an international competition such as the Davis Cup, a premier men’s tennis tournament, it is always well-attended. Why? Because fans miss how fun the Olympics were and want to feel a part of it. Now, the same thing is coming together on the soccer side. When Canada hosts a Canadian soccer game at BC Place, people want to go. Soccer fans want to relive how fun the FIFA Women’s World Cup was last summer. For the first time ever, people are taking the Men’s soccer team seriously and it’s not just because the team is improving.
The fans have done their part by buying tickets that have put Friday nights in British Columbia at a large-scale. Actions like these, seemed unimaginable a decade ago when they were receiving lonely crowds of 8,000 at Swangard Stadium. It’s 2016, and finally the time is now for players to return the favor and deliver a watershed moment in Canadian soccer history.