Standing room only for Vanier

Queen’s fans scour the Internet and line up for hours to find a way to tomorrow’s Vanier Cup

Destinations sold approximately 400 tickets on Wednesday night. Some Gaels fans waited up to four hours in line for their chance to secure their trip to Quebec City.
Destinations sold approximately 400 tickets on Wednesday night. Some Gaels fans waited up to four hours in line for their chance to secure their trip to Quebec City.

Since the early 1960s, the Vanier Cup has been held in a neutral location. It was held at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Stadium until 1988 before moving down the street to the SkyDome. It has also been held in Hamilton’s Ivor Wynne Stadium.

The last Vanier Cup to be held outside Toronto was in 2006 in Saskatoon’s Griffiths Stadium, located on the University of Saskatchewan campus.

But this year, the holy grail of Canadian university football will be fought out between the Queen’s Gaels and University of Calgary Dinos at L’Université Laval’s PEPS Stadium, which has a regular capacity of 10,200 but will be expanded to over 18,000 for the final.

Reigning champions Laval Rouge-et-Or were favoured to be hosting and playing in the game until Queen’s beat them 33-30 in last weekend’s Mitchell Bowl. Fans hoping to follow the two finalists were left disappointed by a lack of available tickets. The game officially sold out in October. Only 1,250 tickets were made available to Queen’s fans. All tickets made available to fans making the trip to Quebec City are in the standing-room section of the PEPS Stadium.

Queen’s Athletics and Recreation’s manager for marketing, communications and events, Michael Leblanc, said the the Gaels and Dinos were only allocated 100 tickets each before pressuring Laval into making more available.

“I’m pretty sure it’s just because [Laval] thought they were going to be in the game,” he said, adding that Calgary has only been allocated about 150 tickets. “Laval was just trying to sell the game out, which they had done which was fantastic for the sport in general. However, it puts the teams participating, if Laval’s not one of those teams, in a precarious situation in terms of trying to accommodate [their fans].”

He said 250 Queen’s tickets were allocated to players’ families, 600 were reserved for students and 400 were sold to the general public. There were only 135 student tickets and no general public tickets left. Tickets are no longer on sale.

Leblanc said Laval’s method of handling ticket allocation for the biggest Canadian university football game of the year was questionable at best.

“One of the arguments I’ve heard over the course of this past week is that ... if our people wanted to guarantee themselves tickets to the games, they should’ve bought them months ago,” he said. “If you wanted to buy tickets months ago you wouldn’t have been able to because you had to buy season’s tickets to Laval football in order to get your Vanier Cup ticket. So at no point, according to what I’ve been told, had Vanier Cup single tickets ever been made available. ... Fans from other schools who thought they had a shot at playing the game at no point had the opportunity to buy tickets, which is just not right.”

CIS communications and media relations manager Michel Bélanger said the game was moved from neutral sites like the Rogers Centre or Ivor Wynne because the stadiums were too big.

“Now we come to Laval and the game sells out in an hour when you put single tickets on sale and people complain there aren’t enough tickets,” he said. “It’s hard to please everyone. In years past people said you’re hosting in venues that are too big, so we move to a smaller venue and people are still mad at us.”

There has never been a ticket reservation rule for participating universities, something Bélanger said the CIS would have to address before next year’s Vanier Cup, which will also be played at Laval.

“Should we re-address it for next year? I think so, obviously,” he said. “We should learn from, not a mistake, but an issue we didn’t think about, and obviously this is something we’re going to want to address for next year.”

Gilles Lépine, varsity teams director at Laval and co-president of the Vanier Cup organizing committee, said it was impossible for the hosts to reserve more tickets for potential finalists without knowing how many visiting fans would show.

“Knowing from past Uteck and Mitchell Bowls we held here, we only had a few tickets sold,” he said. “I can’t reserve 3,000 tickets for a team anywhere in Canada when I don’t know how many will come. Maybe for next year I’ll reserve more, but I can’t reserve more if I don’t know whether they’ll want the tickets or not.”

With some Kingston and Calgary residents turning to the Internet to buy scalped tickets from Laval fans who don’t want to go to the final when the Rouge-et-Or aren’t playing, Lépine said most ticket-holders still want to go to the game, even though the Rouge-et-Or aren’t playing.

Lépine said the PEPS Stadium’s small size and the popularity of university football in Quebec City has made tickets hard to come by for everyone.

“I can’t wait to sell three quarters of my stadium to see where teams are coming from,” he said. “It’s probably not the best, but it’s not bad. All the people from Kingston who want to come can’t, but all the people from Quebec City who want to come too, can’t.”

Kelsey Lazar, ArtSci ’12, joined the throngs lining up for a chance at one of the 600 student tickets that were on sale Wednesday night at Destinations. Lines started to grow around 4:30 p.m. and never really waned, with the line looping around the Upper Ceilidh of the JDUC. Some people waited more than four hours for tickets.

Lazar said she was happy to line up, but unhappy that only standing-room tickets were available.

“It sucks because I’m 5’4”,” she said. “[Laval] should definitely not assume they’re going to win [next year] and reserve tickets for the schools that are going to be in it.”

Peter Soosalu, Phys Ed ’12, who also lined up for tickets, said Laval’s ticket reservation plan needs work.

“They sold [the good tickets] to a bunch of people at Laval because they assumed they were going to win, and I was really mad at that fact,” he said.

Kevin Du Manoir, ArtSci ’06 and an employee at the Registrar’s Office, lined up at the less-crowded ticket office at the PEC. He said Laval would still look bad after the weekend ends.

“It’s unfortunate but I don’t think there’s anything Queen’s could have done about it, it’s the organizers at the Vanier Cup that dropped the ball,” he said. “I understand why they did it but I think it’s kind of crappy. It ensures the financial success of the event, but it doesn’t look really good for people like us who are trying to get tickets.”

Nevertheless, du Manoir said he was ready to brave the standing-room only accommodations at the PEPS.

“For me, just being there’s going to be enough.”

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