Queen’s University, Kingston, Ont. to host the Vanier Cup

For the first time ever, the Vanier Cup is coming to Kingston, Ont., and the city will have the chance to show off its hosting skills as it hosts back-to-back championship games. 

The city and Queen’s University have been tapped to host the U Sports championship for the 2023 and 2024 season at Richardson Memorial Stadium.

U Sports made the announcement on Thursday. 

It’s a partnership between Queen’s University, the Queen’s Gaels Football team and the city of Kingston.

At the announcement, Mayor Bryan Paterson says they expect fans to visit from across the country for the game.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to show what we’re capable of,” Paterson said. “The sporting events that we can host here in the city, and in partnership with Queen’s University, (a) great venue here at Richardson Stadium. I have no doubt it’s going to be a couple of the best Vanier Cup’s we’ve had in history.”

Linda Melnick, executive director for Queen’s athletics and recreation, says it’s exciting for the football program and the school.

“It’s thrilling,” Melnick says. “Just being able to see the tricolour out on the field, with the goal of us being visible and present as part of this Vanier Cup experience is just a key part of hosting it.”

The Vanier Cup has been played in different cities since it was first awarded in 1965. It’s been held in places like Toronto and Quebec City a number of times.

Lisette Johnson-Stapley, U Sports Chief Sport Officer, explains that part of why Kingston was chosen was because it’s the first city to bid to host two games back-to-back. 

“Queen’s bodes the organizational expertise, fan support, team strength and excellent venues which enriches the student athlete experience,” she says. 

Richardson stadium can hold 10,500 people. Last year, the Vanier Cup brought in more than $2 million  to London where it was held. 

Tourism is a big part of Daft Brewing’s business, which sits near campus and the stadium. Owner Adam Rondeau says events like this are great help.

“Especially in November, which is our off season, anything that drives additional business our way is awesome,” he explains.

However, the city has had difficulties with large unsanctioned parties like Queen’s University homecoming, which can cost a lot to control. 

Paterson says he feels this will be a different kind of event. 

“I don’t think we’re concerned about, to be honest,” says Paterson. “I think we’ll be very focused on making sure that celebrations in and around the Vanier Cup can happen across the community.”

Queen’s University President Patrick Deane says any discussions will happen with the city, and will come in the lead up to the games. 

“There’s certainly a risk that there will be a higher number of people from other jurisdictions, other universities here in town so we will, of course, have measures in place to make sure it’s all positive and constructive,” he explains. 

The Queen’s University Gaels are four-time winners of the Vanier Cup, last winning in 2009. Melnick says there’s excitement about the possibility of winning it on home turf. 

“I think all of our student athletes are right now picturing themselves hoisting the Vanier Cup on the field behind me.”

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