It’s best known for hosting trade shows, mega concerts and B.C. Lions’ games.
But increasingly, BC Place is becoming a hub for international sports.
Next weekend’s Canada Sevens rugby tournament has sold every ticket in the stadium’s lower bowl, forcing organizers to open up 5,000 seats in the upper bowl.
“We’re going to establish ourselves as a city that embraces all levels of sport and all different types,” says Michelle Collens, City of Vancouver Sport Hosting Manager.
“It’s starting to show the organizers the great investment value of bringing an event to Vancouver.”
Rugby sevens – a form of the sport played with just seven players and fourteen minutes of game time – has grown in popularity in recent years, but organizers weren’t sure what sort of demand they would see for the first major tournament in Vancouver.
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“We knew there was a core rugby community that would support this event, and the happy surprise is the greater Vancouver sporting community has stepped up,” said Jamie Levchuk, Canada Sevens tournament director.
“It’s a simpler form a rugby, and easier to understand. And 14-minute games…in this world of 70 characters or less, or six second videos, maybe it appeals to a lot of people.”
On March 25, a men’s soccer World Cup qualifier against Mexico has a chance at a sellout. And buoyed by the interest in next week’s World Sevens Series event in Vancouver, Canada will host Japan in a first ever rugby test match on June 11.
“We know we need to go to the next level and this allows us to do that,” Gareth Rees, Rugby Canada’s director of commercial and program relations, said of playing at BC Place. “I think it’s great news. It’s still a big challenge for us, as it was with the Canada Sevens, a big challenge to sell it out. But we’ve got to get to work. It’s a good opportunity.”
– With files from The Canadian Press