Turf wars: HarbourCats lose home playoff space to BC Lions

Turf wars: HarbourCats lose home playoff space to BC Lions
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The Victoria HarbourCats Baseball Club is voicing its disappointment over a scheduling conflict with the BC Lions at Royal Athletic Park (RAP) this summer.

The Canadian Football League (CFL) team is playing a game at RAP on Aug. 31, and because they’re expanding the park to hold up to 14,000 spectators, crews will be working on set up throughout much of August.

On Tuesday, the HarbourCats said they were told by the city that they would have to stop using RAP after their final regular season game on Aug. 7 to accommodate the football game and related preparations.

The HarbourCats says this impacts the team, since West Coast League baseball playoffs can run until Aug. 16, meaning the team won’t be able to host any games on their home turf if they make it to the playoffs.

“As our fans would expect, this is not a situation we are pleased to be in — we fully support the premise of hosting of CFL game – something that benefits all sports fans in Victoria,” said Jim Swanson, managing partner of the HarbourCats in a release.

“However, we do not understand why a date was needed that impacted our operation, the HarbourCats being a team that has worked hard to become a local staple of summer in Victoria with a history of strong representation and performance.”

The BC Lions will face off against the Ottawa Redblacks on Aug. 31 as part of the CFL’s first-ever “Touchdown Pacific” game.

It’s part of the football league’s “Touchdown Series,” which aims to drum up support for the sport across Canada.

Last year, five Touchdown Atlantic games raised more than $10 million in overall economic impact along the East Coast.

The expectation is that a similar financial boom will come to Greater Victoria.

The HarbourCats say they’ve received an assurance from the City of Victoria that the CFL game will be a one-time occurrence, with no overlap occurring in future years.

In the meantime, the baseball team is calling for fans to come out and support the HarbourCats during the regular season, since they won’t be able to play at home during the playoffs if they make it this year – with the team noting that it has competed in the playoffs in six out of the past seven seasons.

“The Victoria HarbourCats organization has notified the City of Victoria and the CFL of the profound impact of this change to 2024 playoff games,” said Swanson.

More information about the HarbourCats’ upcoming season can be found on the team’s website. This year’s home opener kicks off on Friday, June 7.

With files from CHEK’s Mackenzie Read

READ MORE: BC Lions to host first ever Touchdown Pacific in Victoria this summer

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