Prospect of Empire Stadium coming back into use sets off memories - The Province

BY KENT GILCHRIST

With the B.C. Lions moving back to the Empire Stadium site to play their CFL games next season while B.C. Place Stadium gets refitted with a retractable roof and the Whitecaps to start in 2011, it brought back memories for your agent.

I covered the Lions as a beat reporter from 1974 through the '82 season as they transitioned into the new downtown edifice. Interestingly, the Lions played some wonderfully entertaining games at old Empire, but they never made it to the Grey Cup game in the nine years I covered them there. That's because the Edmonton Eskimos were getting to eight of them.

But there were many memorable Empire moments, among them:

- Seeing Joe Paopao complete 18 passes in a row against the Toronto Argonauts in 1979.

- Surviving rain every day of Grey Cup week in 1974 when Montreal beat the Eskimos 20-7 on Nov. 24 when 34,450 showed up. It was beautiful on Monday, Nov. 25.

- Seeing backup quarterback Karl Douglas -- 1973 and '74 -- throw a football over the grandstand from the field. It was the most impressive thing he ever did as a Lion.

- Arguing--actually getting chewed out by Lions head coach Eagle Keys -- at midfield while Ronnie Lancaster and George Reed and the rest of the Saskatchewan Roughriders were waiting to practise the day before a game.

- Watching starting quarterback Don Moorhead playing goal in a players' ball-hockey game in the concourse under the north grandstand and taking a shot in the eye a couple of days before a game. I think he played.

- Learning new cuss words from head coach Vic Rapp who had his own inimitable way of handling his players.

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