BC Lions co-general manager Neil McEvoy provided a public service announcement for Canadian football fans, especially on the West coast.
There are many supporters of the Seattle Seahawks in Western Canada and in British Columbia in particular. However, McEvoy doesn’t believe the NFL franchise has the best interest of its Canucks backers at heart.
“One of the things that annoys me to be quite honest, is when people say: ‘It’s not the Seattle Seahawks, or it’s not this, or it’s not that.'” McEvoy said on The BC Lions Den Pawdcast.
“To be quite honest, the Seattle Seahawks don’t care about you, or me, or football in Vancouver — they don’t . They care about football in the state of Washington.”
The Seahawks have connected with fans across the border as the Lions attendance dropped for the seventh straight year in 2019. An average of 17,803 fans came to BC Place for games the last time the CFL played a full season.
“When all these guys go out and buy their NFL stuff and they say they’re football fans, and fans of football in Canada — they’re not. All they’re doing is supporting a league that doesn’t need the support,” McEvoy said.
“They already have the support of the 360 million people that live in the United States. We have to work harder as a professional team to show that we mean a lot to these kids.”
After the Lions won the Grey Cup at home in 2011, the franchise averaged 30,366 fans throughout the 2012 season. Although, there’s been a steady decline since the high of the Lions last CFL championship.
“It’s not going to be an overnight success, it never has been. If you look at the history of professional football in Vancouver and in Canada, it’s been a rollercoaster,” McEvoy said.
“The things you see at a live sporting event, you don’t see on television. We have to keep on working hard and show people it’s fun to go to games.”
The Lions had the lowest average attendance of any West Division team last season. Saskatchewan was at the top with 30,723 per game, Edmonton second at 29,340, Calgary third at 27,027, and Winnipeg fourth at 25,414 — BC had nearly 8,000 less people in the stands than rival franchises.
“It drives me crazy when people say no one goes to the games. People do go to the games. People are fans. When people say no one watches, that’s incorrect. Our TV viewers are very high,” McEvoy said.
“The concourse at BC place is packed, I know the stands aren’t as packed, but we just have to continue to work on showing people that we’re an exciting product. History has shown if you keep fighting the good fight, people will come back.”