For B.C. Lions fans, 2011 was a year for the ages. Travis Lulay was emerging as a CFL star, BC Place was recently remodeled and the on-field product the organization presented was not only one of the most thrilling CFL teams in league history but a team that brought the Grey Cup back to Canada’s west coast.
The Lions organization was on a high. They were experiencing superb home crowds of 30,000 to 40,000 during the second half of the season. Following their home Grey Cup victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in front of over 50,000 fans, the Lions organization was on the rise as one of the CFL’s organizations of envy.
Post-2011 Grey Cup Win
But following 2011, B.C.’s years entailed ups and downs. Lulay wasn’t able to reach what some thought would be an incredible peak. He experienced a sickening number of injuries that would plague him up until his expected retirement this past off-season. The fan attendance was less than stellar as crowds of 18,000 to 19,000 became the norm for BC Place. The organization decided to eventually block off the upper decks of the stadium due to the number of empty seats that television viewers could see while watching.
Saginaw Valley State’s Jonathan Jennings generated some excitement throughout at the quarterback position in the past few years. As a result, experts thought Jennings would evolve into the Lions next great pivot. Sadly, Jennings began to ride the same wave of highs and lows that his organization had grown accustomed to, leading to his departure to Ottawa this off-season.
To make matters worse, Vancouver is one of the most difficult markets in Canada for a CFL team to succeed. The city has a long list of attractions and a beautiful climate that offers potential Lions ticket purchasers other avenues to enjoy on Saturday evenings on the west coast.
But there is a new, expensive attraction in town beginning this June.
Mike Reilly Era
Former CFL M.O.P. and Grey Cup champion quarterback Mike Reilly is the new captain of the Vancouver ship, and he is bringing some new sailors with him.
On offence, B.C.’s added three receivers, a running back, and an offensive lineman.
The notorious Duron Carter is bringing his boisterous personality and game-altering athletic skill set to BC Place. The underrated, but certainly not undersized, Lamar Durant as well as Joshua Stanford are coming over from Calgary and Saskatchewan respectively
Lion’s fan favorite Bryan Burnham is returning this season. Burnham presents Reilly with one of the most talented pairs of hands in the country to throw to. Reilly and running back John White will also be reunited. White served as one of Reilly’s most reliable targets in the short passing game during their stay in Edmonton.
National offensive lineman Sukh Chungh will also be joining Reilly on offence.
The Last Word
Reilly isn’t riding into British Columbia as an experiment. He insinuated to the press that he would love nothing more than to finish his career in B.C. After going 7-2 at home in 2018, BC Place will become an even harder place to win at. Tune in to B.C. Lions games this season, CFL fans. Greater things than 2011 are coming to the Lions. Reilly and company are going to be the newest version of the greatest show on turf, and it starts this summer. Is it June yet?
Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images