VANCOUVER - David Braley is putting his money back into the Grey Cup.
The B.C. Lions owner will pick up the tab for the 2014 Grey Cup in Vancouver after his club was awarded the right to put on the championship game at B.C. Place. It will mark the second time in four years that B.C. Place Stadium will host the annual football classic.
"We have everything in the books, the business plan, the game plan," said Braley, also a Canadian senator, after a news conference at B.C. Place on Friday. "All we need is the starting point and (to) make adjustments."
Teams that want to host the Grey Cup pay a rights fee to the league to host the game. The host is responsible for all expenses and receives the net profit.
Braley, who also owns the Toronto Argonauts, has purchased the rights to a number of Grey Cups, including the 2011 contest in Vancouver that the Lions won over Winnipeg and the 2012 affair in which the host Boatmen also prevailed, over the Calgary Stampeders.
The B.C. government is also making a financial contribution this year. B.C. Premier Christy Clark said her government is contributing "a little over $2 million" in public support.
The province also contributed to the 2011 Grey Cup, which the Lions won 34-23 over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Clark said her government's contribution is a good investment considering the 2011 game generated more than $100 million of economic activity, and she wanted to generate similar investment again.
"This is a great sporting event," said Clark. "It is a great source of pride for all Canadians. It is a tremendous opportunity for all Canadians to come together and celebrate what makes this country tick.
"But it's also a great economic opportunity for us."
Clark said the province has already allocated the money after the Lions made a request for funding. Crown-owned stadium operator B.C. Pavilion Corp. has disclosed a provincial grant of $2.7 million as part of its bid for the game.
Embattled Clark, who is about to enter a difficult election campaign, said the announcement also proved that Liberals made "the right decision" to invest in B.C. Place Stadium's new retractable roof, which has been in operation since September 2011.
Braley said the provincial contribution to the 2014 Grey Cup will be used to stage free public events.
"The original way, you used to put an event on, you had to sell enough tickets to pay for it, and maybe get a sponsor," said Braley. "This allows us to do things in the community, have outdoor activities where the customer doesn't have to pay to be able to be part of it."
Braley denied a report that the Lions were awarded the game because construction of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers' new stadium was delayed. He said it was the Lions' usual turn to host it, but 2011 was not.
Braley added he paid the Hamilton Tiger-Cats a fee to relinquish their hosting rights so that the Lions could take advantage of the renovated B.C. Place in 2011.
Lions general manager Wally Buono said the Lions were "more than lucky" to get the Grey Cup again, and the province obviously had to be comfortable with its financial contribution. The club is concentrating on the upcoming 2013 season, but the GM said the opportunity to earn home-field advantage for the 2014 contest serves as a good long-term goal.
"I think it speaks more about the province, about the city, about the venue and about the organization that the league would come back and give it to us again," said Buono. "We've come a long since my first Grey Cup here (while coaching and managing the Calgary Stampeders) in 1999.
"In 2005, the city and the organization did a great job. I thought 2011 was that much better and, hopefully, 2014 will even raise it up another notch."
The Grey Cup host club usually enjoys a spike in season tickets sales and decline the following season. But the Lions have been able to maintain their numbers since 2011.
"From the organization point of view, selling tickets, usually, there's always a guarantee that you have tickets," said Buono.
"You can get a Grey Cup ticket for sponsors, for suite holders. All these things are, I think, are a good spin-off for the club."
This year's Grey Cup game will be played Nov. 24 in Regina.
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