I spend what could only be called an oversized amount of time following — and occasionally playing — sports.
We are lucky in Vancouver to have excellent fan experiences here. The Whitecaps, Canadians, Lions and Canucks all distinguish themselves in treating the fan well at the stadium, and I can tell you it isn’t always that way in every city.
The Whitecaps have a terrific major league vibe. The crowd is the liveliest of any of the teams in the city, thankfully far short of the aggression, you’d see in Europe or South America for footie. This is a big family crowd, too, because the game itself is so popular all over the Lower Mainland, and the ticket prices are within reach.
The Canadians have the homiest experience, authentically smaller-scale and traditional, and as a minor-league team, they focus on an accessible and simpler time at the park. The games can be quite wild because the A-level ball is developmental, and a lot of players are still in their teens and early 20s learning the basics. Nat Bailey is also the prettiest of any facility you’ll find.
The Lions are the most solidly traditional experience, here for more than 50 years and with an older demographic that is the most knowledgeable of all the fan bases in the city. The crowds may have dwindled but the team has great promise this year and I expect BC Place will be fuller.
The Canucks are the big deal in the city, no question, and have done much to upgrade the fan experience in recent years. This is particularly important as the team transforms and rebuilds The food is much better. The facility is top-flight, and the new suites are tremendously upscale. As a Canadian, I’m biased in believing there is no more interesting, exciting, challenging and physically demanding game to play, and television doesn’t do it justice.
But we are fortunate to have all four — we could use a basketball team again, but I think that ship has sailed — and for them to have such a smaller-city feel as major-league entities.