The Vanier Cup is on the move.
Canadian university football's championship game will be played at Hamilton's Ivor Wynne Stadium in 2004, a source requesting anonymity told The Canadian Press on Tuesday night.
Ontario University Athletics, the game's rights-holder, will hold a news conference Wednesday morning at the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in Hamilton to make the announcement.
The move will mark the first time the Vanier Cup has been played outside of Toronto since its inception in 1965. After serving as an invitational event in 1965 and 1966, the Vanier Cup became Canadian university football's official championship game in 1967.
The decision speeds up the Vanier Cup's departure from Toronto, which was due to happen when the OUA's rights to the game expired after the 2005 contest.
Saskatoon, home of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, will stage the 2006 Vanier Cup game.
SkyDome has hosted the game since the stadium opened in 1989, attracting 32,887 fans that year, the largest Vanier Cup crowd ever.
Attendance and interest has declined steadily ever since. Just 17,828 took in Laval's 14-7 win over Saint Mary's in 2003, although it was a slightly better than the 2002 crowd of 17,179.
The idea of moving the game to Hamilton has been floating around since last November's Mitchell Bowl, one of two national semi-finals, was played at Ivor Wynne. Laval's 36-32 win over hometown McMaster attracted an exuberant crowd of 11,015 and gave the idea some legs.
Forcing the issue was the fact that the OUA's contract with SkyDome expired after the 2003 Vanier Cup and work on a new deal didn't get far because of scheduling conflicts.
While bringing the game to Hamilton could give some new momentum, most coaches will be dismayed. They preferred playing it under the roof at SkyDome to keep weather from being a factor and to give their players a better experience.
Canadian Interuniversity Sport officials have said on several occasions that the Vanier Cup's sponsors were amenable to moving the game elsewhere.