Sports in Vancouver

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BC Place Stadium with Rogers Arena visible on the right
A Vancouver Canucks playoff game at Rogers Arena
The BC Lions playing in the 99th Grey Cup at BC Place
Skiers at Cypress Mountain

There have been a wide variety of sports in Vancouver since the city was founded. Team sports such as ice hockey, lacrosse, and Canadian football have extensive history in the area, while the city's relatively mild climate and geographical location facilitate a wide variety of other sports and recreational activities.

Amateur sports teams[edit]

The Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League, founded in 2001, play their home games at the Pacific Coliseum. The Giants hosted and won the 2007 Memorial Cup. The Vancouver area also has a number of hockey teams in the Tier II British Columbia Hockey League.

There are a number of amateur lacrosse teams in Greater Vancouver, competing under the auspices of the British Columbia Lacrosse Association. The New Westminster Salmonbellies have won the Mann Cup, Canada's senior lacrosse championship, a record 24 times. There are also a several amateur teams in sports such as soccer, baseball, softball, Canadian football, field hockey, rugby, Gaelic football, Water Polo, disc ultimate and roller derby.[1][2]

Prominent annual amateur sports events in Vancouver include the BC High School Basketball Championship at the Agrodome, the High School Football Championship at BC Place, and the Canada Cup softball tournament in South Surrey. Also notable is the college rivalry between the UBC Thunderbirds and Simon Fraser Clan, who meet annually in the Shrum Bowl (football) and Buchanan Cup (basketball).

North Vancouver Island Rugby League have been named as a team in the WAMNRL which will begin in summer 2011.[3]

Professional sports teams[edit]

BC Lions[edit]

Main article: BC Lions

The British Columbia (BC) Lions have played in the Canadian Football League since 1954, and have won the Grey Cup six times, in 1964, 1985, 1994, 2000, 2006 and in 2011. Vancouver has hosted the Grey Cup championship fourteen times, most recently in 2011 . The Lions play their home games at BC Place Stadium in downtown Vancouver, having previously played at Empire Stadium in East Vancouver until the end of the 1982 season.

Vancouver Canadians[edit]

Main article: Vancouver Canadians

The Vancouver Canadians have played in the short season Class A minor Northwest League since 2000. The Canadians play their home games at Scotiabank Field at Nat Bailey Stadium and are affiliated with the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball. Minor league baseball has a long history in Vancouver, including an earlier incarnation of the Canadians and the Vancouver Mounties; both played in the Class AAA Pacific Coast League. Vancouver continues to have a huge interest in acquiring a full-time Major League Baseball team and having them play their home games at BC Place Stadium in downtown Vancouver.

Vancouver Canucks[edit]

Main article: Vancouver Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks have played in the National Hockey League since 1970, and have reached the Stanley Cup finals three times, in 1982, 1994 (the Canucks' 1994 run was unfortunately marred by the 1994 Stanley Cup riot) and 2011 (which again incited the 2011 Stanley Cup riot after the Canucks' loss to Boston). The Canucks play their home games at Rogers Arena, having previously played at the Pacific Coliseum until 1995. Previous incarnations of the Canucks played in the Pacific Coast Hockey League and Western Hockey League and won multiple championships. The Vancouver Blazers, a World Hockey Association team, attempted to compete with the Canucks between 1973 and 1975, but moved to Calgary thereafter. An early professional hockey team known as the Vancouver Millionaires won the Stanley Cup in 1915.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC[edit]

In the 2011 season, the Vancouver Whitecaps FC joined Major League Soccer. The squad plays their home games in a renovated BC Place Stadium.

Former teams[edit]

The expansion Vancouver Grizzlies of the National Basketball Association were one of the anchor tenants of GM Place upon its completion in 1995, but moved to Memphis, Tennessee after just six years of operations in Vancouver. Professional basketball has been rumored to return to Vancouver, most recently in the form of the Vancouver Dragons of the Continental Basketball Association, but has yet to establish itself. Vancouver continues to have a huge interest in acquiring a full-time National Basketball Association team and having them play their home games at Rogers Arena. Vancouver has also had professional lacrosse (Vancouver Ravens, National Lacrosse League, 2001-2004) and roller hockey (Vancouver Voodoo, Roller Hockey International, 1993-1996) teams. The Vancouver Blazers of the World Hockey Association played in the Pacific Coliseum for two seasons (1973/74 and 1974/75).

The Vancouver Royal Canadians were an association football team based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada that played in the United Soccer Association. The league was made up of teams imported almost entirely from Scotland and England. The Vancouver club was actually Sunderland A.F.C. of English Football League.

Following the 1967 season, the USA merged with the National Professional Soccer League to form the North American Soccer League with the teams from the former USA having to create their rosters from scratch. The San Francisco Golden Gate Gales franchise folded and their owners bought a controlling interest in the Royal Canadians renaming them the Vancouver Royals. Their home field was Empire Stadium.

2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics[edit]

The clock in downtown Vancouver counting down to the 2010 Winter Olympics

The 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics took place in 2010 in Vancouver, and was organized by the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC). The 2010 Winter Olympics was the third Olympics hosted by Canada, and the first by the province of British Columbia.

In the 2010 Winter Olympics, the mascots were Miga, a mythical sea bear, part orca and part kermode bear, Quatchi, a sasquatch, and Sumi, an animal guardian spirit with the wings of the Thunderbird and legs of a black bear. Miga and Quatchi were the mascots for the Olympics while Sumi was the mascot for the Paralympics.

Other events[edit]

Past sports events in Vancouver include:

The Vancouver area has also hosted multiple BC Games amateur sports events. The Slam City Jam skateboarding championship was held in Vancouver from 1994 to 2005, and was set to return in 2008. Upcoming events include the 2008 World Ultimate and Guts Championship and the 2009 World Police and Fire Games.

Annual events include the Vancouver Marathon (42K/21K), the Vancouver Sun Run (a 10 km race), Scotiabank Vancouver Half-Marathon and the Cloverdale Rodeo. Horse racing takes place regularly at Hastings Racecourse.

Famous athletes[edit]

The Vancouver area has produced a number of notable athletes, including Cam Neely (born in Comox, raised in Lower Mainland), Joe Sakic, Cliff Ronning, Milan Lucic and Paul Kariya (hockey); Larry Walker, Justin Morneau, Jeff Francis, and Adam Loewen (baseball); Bob Lenarduzzi, Domenic Mobilio, Brian Budd (born in Toronto, raised in Vancouver) and Christine Sinclair (soccer); Lui Passaglia, Paris Jackson and Adam Braidwood (football); Harry Jerome, Charmaine Crooks, Percy Williams (Track & Field).


Major sports facilities in Vancouver are Rogers Arena (a.k.a. GM Place, Canada Hockey Place), BC Place, the Pacific Coliseum, the Agrodome and Nat Bailey Stadium. BC Place is also home to the BC Sports Hall of Fame, founded in 1966. There are many other facilities throughout the city and surrounding area, including 8 Rinks in Burnaby, the Canucks' main practice venue.


The relatively mild climate of Vancouver, its extensive parkland, and close proximity to ocean, mountains, rivers and lakes make the area a popular destination for outdoor sports and recreation, including on and off-road cycling, skateboarding, hiking, alpine and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, golf, and water sports. The nearby North Shore Mountains are home to three ski hills, Cypress Mountain, Grouse Mountain, and Mount Seymour; each are within 20 to 30 minutes (driving time) of downtown Vancouver.


Vancouver's major daily newspapers, the Vancouver Sun and Vancouver Province, provide extensive coverage of local sports. CKNW was historically the main radio broadcaster of Vancouver's sports teams, but CKST, an all-sports station founded in 2001, broadcasts the Canucks, Lions, Whitecaps and Canadians as of 2007. On television, most events are carried by Sportsnet Pacific, TSN, CBC, or Shaw TV.