It is not a stretch to suggest that Vancouver residents had about as much at stake as the B.C. Lions heading into the Grey Cup, as the rest of the country wondered how rowdy fans would react in the streets after the championship game.
The city’s reputation had been badly smeared in June by the repugnant behaviour of drunken hooligans who vandalized the downtown core after the Vancouver Canucks lost Game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final to the Boston Bruins.
But this time around, Vancouver’s football fans remained calm and violence-free in the aftermath of the Lions victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers Sunday night.
After the ugly outburst in June, Vancouver was better prepared with a beefed up police presence and no outdoor television viewing areas to attract the 100,000 or so revellers to the downtown core as was the case in the deciding Stanley Cup contest.
There were no outdoor public beer gardens for people to whet their appetite, and temporary liquor licences to restaurants and bars had also been outlawed by the Province.
“Everyone was great, everyone was excited,” Lions fans Sarah MacDonald told the Canadian Press after the game. “You could see fans were cheering for different teams, enjoying each other and celebrating each other.
“We’ve shown the world that we can be good winners and that we can celebrate as a city together.”
Of course, it helped that the Lions hung on to win to send everybody streaming out of B.C. Place in a happy frame of mind – except perhaps Angelo Mosca and Joe Kapp, former CFL greats whose Friday dust-up almost upstaged the game.
Given the Stanley Cup riots in June, it seemed an odd choice for Nickelback, the Alberta rockers who performed before the packed house at B.C. Place, to choose to feature their hit Burn It To The Ground during their three-song set.
The lyrics are as follows:
“We’re going out tonight, to kick out every light
“Take anything we want, take everything in sight.”
That’s kind of what happened after the Stanley Cup, when more than 100 were arrested after revellers took to the street and caused more than a million dollars in property damage during an hours-long rampage.
Nickelback’s faux pas certainly wasn’t as cringe-worthy as Janet Jackson’s famous wardrobe malfunction during the halftime show at the Super Bowl in 2004. But still, you would have thought Nickelback could have chosen a more appropriate tune from their vast array of hits to encourage the masses on Sunday.
Despit Nickelback’s halftime exhortations, the exemplary behaviour of the fans remained music to the ears of Vancouver city officials.