The Chilliwack Huskers and Kamloops Broncos played a B.C. Football Conference pre-season game in Prince George last weekend, showcasing the league for possible expansion.
By all accounts the game was a success, but PG Free Press sports editor Alistair McInnis says there’s work to be done to make a BCFC team feasible.
Having a franchise in Prince George would boost the B.C. Football Conference.
The league could use its existence in B.C.’s Northern Capital to attract more newcomers, expand its schedule and add new business partners.
The support exists in the city.
Saturday’s attendance wasn’t as high as it could have been (approximately 500, with organizers optimistically saying 700 or 800).
But it wasn’t a disappointing turnout either. A team of 50-plus chipped in to help run the event.
It’s easy to rave about a one-day event, but bigger issues must be resolved if PG’s bid to land a BCFC expansion franchise is successful.
The city’s geography is consistently the biggest hurdle it has to overcome in joining any major junior sports league and that hasn’t changed.
Kamloops is the closest BCFC city at 525 clicks away — under normal driving conditions, that’s six hours on the road.
The two current squads situated furthest apart, Victoria and Kelowna, are separated by 471 kilometres. Ferry and highway time combined, that’s a six-and-a-half hour trip, minor compared to what would be an 11-hour, 863 kilometre trek from Victoria to Prince George (time and distance figures from the Ministry of Transportation distance calculator).
Considering their relative isolation from southern B.C., PG residents pushing for a franchise understand the importance of accommodation arrangements.
In a league in which overnight stays are rarely required, payment of hotel bills for visiting teams may have to come out of Prince George wallets. The business proposal they’re preparing to apply in October would have to outline accommodation arrangements and they’d have to be willing to offer a package appealing to the rest of the league.
Perhaps only the Broncos would be willing to avoid staying overnight.
However, if the two Lower Mainland teams (the Huskers and Langley Rams) and the Kelowna-based Okanagan Sun are offered hotel arrangements for a night, it’s likely that Kamloops would follow suit.
Gathering support from the Island may be hardest of all. Since ferries don’t travel overnight, the Nanaimo Raiders and Victoria-based Westshore Rebels could be looking at two nights of hotel accommodations on trips to Prince George.
Organizers have stressed the need for an all-weather field in Prince George, something that may seem more realistic if they land a BCFC franchise.
Prince George has a few more months to put together its proposal. In the meantime, they can gather feedback from the league on ways to strengthen their bid. The league will vote in January.
Preparation is critical in processes like this. With a successful bid, the Prince George group plans to enter a team in the BCFC to start competing in 2013.