Heralding the plans that Grey Cup organizers have put in place and asserting his confidence that there won’t be a replay of June’s Stanley Cup riot, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson invited his constituents to come downtown to take part in the football fun.
Mr. Robertson, who last week was elected to a second term, appeared at HMCS Discovery on Wednesday to mark the arrival of the Grey Cup. The trophy, which is presented to the Canadian Football League champion, was brought in through grey skies on a Canadian Forces Cormorant helicopter.
After the event, Mr. Robertson was besieged with questions from reporters about whether the Grey Cup would spark the same level of violence on the streets as the Stanley Cup. More than 100 people were injured and millions of dollars in damage was caused after the Vancouver Canucks lost Game 7 to the Boston Bruins.
Mr. Robertson said the two sporting events can’t be compared. Grey Cup festival events are mostly held indoors, the weather outside is expected to be chilly, and there won’t be any giant television screens set up. Crews will also be tearing down the fan zones by the time the game kicks off.
“It’s a lot different to manage from the middle of summertime and a last-minute confirmation that we’re in Game 7,” he said. “We will have support as needed around the city. We’ve put a lot of planning into this and obviously are ready for any scenario that develops, but we’re not anticipating any trouble, really.”
Mark Cohon, the CFL’s commissioner, was also on hand for the trophy’s arrival. Like the mayor, the commissioner said he doesn’t expect to see any trouble.
“We’re confident in the people of Vancouver to behave accordingly and really honour the Grey Cup,” he said.
The Vancouver Police Department declined comment Wednesday. A spokeswoman for the force said it will discuss its Grey Cup plans on Thursday.
Wynne Powell, president of London Drugs, which had its Georgia Street store looted during the Stanley Cup riot, said he expects a different outcome from the Grey Cup.
“I think the tone of the city is totally different. I think that if things were to occur, if things were to start drifting towards what people perceive to be an uncomfortable situation, I think they would exit this time,” he said, referring to the large crowds that stood around watching the fighting, looting and burning of June 15.
Mr. Robertson said the Grey Cup is an opportunity for Vancouver to demonstrate what a great host city it can be.
“We’ve had extraordinary successes hosting big events over the years,” he said. “I think this will be another one. … We want to be on the world stage when there’s big events going on. We want to do a great job with it.”
The mayor said the usual complement of CCTV cameras will be running during the Grey Cup festivities, particularly near BC Place.
Mr. Robertson said while there won’t be a live site Sunday – a place for fans who can’t get tickets to the game to watch together on a screen – he’s not against the idea forever.
“I expect in the future, depending on the event and the season, that we would have live sites and make sure where they're located is sensible and that we can control the crowds,” he said.
When asked if the Grey Cup festivities might be affected by Occupy Vancouver protests, Mr. Robertson said it’s a possibility. He said the city will do its best to keep the events running smoothly.