Victoria’s sports entertainment options are diverse and plentiful and suitable for the whole family. We have several amateur and professional teams that call Greater Victoria home and there really is sports entertainment to suit every fan.
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The Victoria Harbourcats are an amateur, wood-bat baseball team who play in the West Coast League (WCL) at the Royal Athletic Park, located at 1014 Caledonia Ave in Victoria, British Columbia. The WCL is a summer league that draws elite level players from different college teams from various conferences across North America. Most of the team members will only play together for one short summer season before heading back to school in September.
The city has fully embraced the return of baseball to the park with the Victoria Harbourcats record-setting attendance levels. And when the team does things like win 19 consecutive games as they did in 2016, it fuels the excitement for even more people to attend. In 2019, West Coast League game attendance at Royal Athletic Park was in excess of 79,500 fans!
With so much competition for sports entertainment dollars, it is nice to see the Victoria Harbourcats drawing sell-out or near sell-out crowds. Warm summer nights help too. As do promotions and events and the team has plenty of those lined up for their home games with things like fireworks nights, bobble-head giveaways, bark in the park (bring your dog to a game) and fan appreciation night. For a full list of promotions and the team schedule visit their website.
Every team needs a mascot and Victoria’s hometown baseball team is no different. Meet Harvey the Harbourcat. Harvey is naturally on hand at games to interact with fans but also makes appearances at community and minor baseball events. If you would like him to attend one of your events, contact the team directly.
Royal Athletic Park is a multi-purpose, fully-lit, natural grass 5,700 seat capacity stadium. Some of the seating is in a covered grandstand, 1,300 are bucket seats with backrests that replaced some of the bleachers in 2014 and in 2018 a new fan experience was added with a double-decker bus. Yes, you read that right! The Wilson’s Group have agreed to a 5-year deal that will see the stadium now called Wilson’s Group Stadium at Royal Athletic Park and they have created a unique seating section with a vintage double decker bus that has been retrofitted to hold groups of 30 to 40 fans! Really, how Victoria is that!
In addition to being home to the Harbourcats, Royal Athletic Park hosts other sporting events and annual festivals that include Rifflandia and the Great Canadian Beer Festival.
With general admission tickets starting at under $15, popular food trucks on site, nightly promotions and a competitive team on the field, a Cats ball game makes perfect summer sports entertainment for the whole family!
Junior football has a long history in Victoria dating back to 1960 with a team known as the Victoria Hornets. Various moves and mergers have occurred over the past 60 years with the present day team known as the Westshore Rebels.
Along with Pacific FC and Rugby Canada, the Rebels call Starlight Stadium in Langford home.
The Rebels have played in BC's top junior league for 40 years and hold 5 conference championships.
The Westshore Rebels play from mid July until early October. Learn more about the Rebels and get tickets here.
The Victoria Royals are a junior ice hockey team playing in the Western Hockey League. They make their home at the Save-On Foods Memorial Centre located at Blanshard and Caledonia. The team plays September through March.
The Royals play in the B.C. Division of the Western Hockey League (WHL) which consists of teams from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and some cities from the US Pacific Northwest.
Comparable leagues across Canada are the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) which includes teams from Ontario, two from Michigan and one from Pennsylvania and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) which includes teams from the provinces of Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
Teams that play in the WHL all boast players with real potential to be drafted into the NHL. This means the play is fast, the shots are accurate and the hits are hard. The action is non-stop from whistle to buzzer - thrilling sports entertainment!
The fans are loud and raucous when the team scores and will most definitely show their displeasure with calls from the referee that they don’t agree with. So even if you’ve never seen a game before, you’ll know how the home team is doing from the crowd reaction.
The fan experience includes more than just watching three 20-minute periods of hockey. During intermissions there are activities on ice, in the stands and in the rotunda surrounding the arena. It may be sponsors throwing swag like t-shirts or ball caps into the stands, on-ice fan competitions or one of my favourites – the chuck-a-puck.
On evenings where the chuck-a-puck promotion is being held, fans purchase foam pucks from the evening’s non-profit group before the second period intermission. Each puck has a number printed on it and the object is for fans to throw their pucks towards targets on the ice during the intermission. The closest to the targets, wins a prize.
During my son's highschool days, his rugby team hosted the chuck-a-puck and it was a such a great evening. The atmosphere was buzzing with excitement, we were able to meet some terrific Victoria Royals fans and of course the team mascot Marty the Marmot was there. I just had to get a selfie with him .
Our players were able to sell all their pucks which made it a profitable fund-raiser for us and two lucky fans won some great prizes. What a sight to see hundreds of pucks being thrown onto the ice. Such fun!
The Royals make it easy to enjoy competitive sports entertainment with all single game tickets under $30 each. Children’s tickets are between $8 and $16 making it affordable family fun. Check their website for tickets.
Other amateur hockey teams that play in Greater Victoria include the Victoria Grizzlies who are a junior A team and play in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) and the Victoria Cougars who are a junior B team and they play in the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League (VIJHL).
If you’re in town and want one of the most Canadian experiences ever, then you simply must come out to a hockey game.
The Victoria Shamrocks are our hometown Senior A box lacrosse team. Established in 1950, the team has seen tremendous success, winning 21 Provincial Championships and the Mann Cup, which is the Canadian National Championship 9 times. In the past decade or so, they have been fielding strong teams every year and seem to be perennial favourites to win – or at least compete for – the Mann Cup.
The Victoria Shamrocks play home games at the Q Centre located at the Westshore Parks and Recreation complex.
The 25-player roster consists of 2 goalies and 23 runners and with a name like Shamrocks, they predictably wear a green and white uniform.
When the team was formed in 1950, they were known as the Shamrocks but with a Pay Less Gas sponsorship between 1982 and 1994, they changed their name and went by the Victoria Pay Less.
Thank goodness that ended, because they went back to their original name in 1995 and hopefully won’t get any ideas of changing names again!
Most people recognize that ice hockey is Canada’s national winter sport but did you know what our national summer sport is? It’s lacrosse! If you are visiting Victoria between May and July and enjoy thrilling, live action sports entertainment, then check out the Victoria Shamrocks schedule and head down to the Q Centre. Learn more about Canadian lacrosse dynasties with this book.
We are fortunate to have Rugby Canada making their home in Langford where we are treated to premier sports entertainment of international men’s and women’s 7's and 15's rugby several times a year. This includes stops on the Americas Rugby Championship tour for the men 15's and formerly hosting the Canadian stop on HSBC Women’s Sevens rugby tournament (women's 7's). Sadly for us, this event has moved to Vancouver for 2023 however it is great news for women's rugby and growth of the sport! Hopefully we will soon host more women's 15's international games.
The world sevens rugby series is an annual tournament of the planet's best male and female rugby sevens teams. The series is comprised of several weekend-long tournaments throughout the year located in host cities around the globe.
The format of the tournament is unlike any other sport I am aware of.
Each location has its own flair, its own crazy mix of fans and its own tournament structure. The tournament structure varies on whether it is a men's tournament, a women's tournament or a combined tournament. Note: As of 2023, there are no more "women only" events as they will all be combined with men's events.
In previous years, Canada hosted the men’s tournament in Vancouver in February/March and the women’s tournament was held right here in Greater Victoria at Starlight Stadium in Langford, usually on or around Mother’s Day weekend.
Each event is a weekend of non-stop action filled with heart pounding, bone crushing excitement. And then there’s the costumes! The sevens tournaments are building a reputation for the most fun, most colourful, most crazy, most amazing weekend of sport.
In 2023, the Canadian stop on the tour will be March 3 to 5 in Vancouver and will be a combined event. I am so sad to lose the women's tournament. I have personally volunteered at the past few events and it was always an incredible experience.
Previously I would let you know what a typical Day One and Day Two would look like at Starlight Stadium. Now that the event is combined with the men, it will be stretched over a 3-day period. The games will be played in blocks, usually with the women starting first. They will play a few hours of womens rugby, followed by a few hours of mens rugby and so on.
The games begin in a round-robin format– one game against every team in their pool. Depending on standings, further matches will be played ending on Sunday with the top-ranking teams in pursuit of the Championship Cup.
For the 2022-23 season, fixtures will be held as follows:
Fueled by the spectacular showing by Canada’s women at the Rio Olympics, there has been a significant interest in rugby locally and across the country. This is evidenced by the exploding number of youth joining their local rugby clubs. Read more about rugby in Victoria here.
With the increased interest in rugby, there are many communities who would be thrilled to host a high calibre sporting event such as the HSBC Sevens Rugby Series. Victoria was fortunate to have this in our own backyard for a few years. Vancouver is going to have to be close enough for the foreseeable future!
The City of Langford has once again secured high calibre sports entertainment, this time in the form of professional soccer. In April 2019 the inaugural season of the Canadian Premier League kicked off with our very own Pacific Football Club one of the founding 7 teams. Victoria locals excitedly welcomed the new professional soccer team who play out of the refurbished Starlight Stadium and share the turf with Rugby Canada and the Westshore Rebels. And because the games will be played in Langford, you won’t have to pay to park to watch professional sports! I really love that about Langford.
I also appreciate some of the upgrades being made to Starlight Stadium that includes a new family fun zone, a stage and concert area, a couple of concession stands and even more parking!
At the rear of the stadium and across from Rugby Canada is the new Sarah Beckett memorial playground that makes me wish I was a kid again!
One other upgrade that all fans will notice is more covered seating and no more cold, metal bleachers. New seating was installed throughout the stadium. In some cases a plastic bucket seat was bolted to the existing metal bleachers. These are fairly shallow and in my opinion, not very comfortable. If you can, opt for seating in the newer sections where the seats are flatter and deeper.
The Victoria-based team are represented by a logo and colour scheme that tells a story of their new home. The logo is a stylized Douglas fir with a trident at the base, characterizing the ocean. The colours are called Starfish Purple, Lagoon Blue and Lighthouse White.
The following teams currently play in the Canadian Premier League:
There was great representation from across the country for the inaugural season which had 7 teams. In 2020 the first expansion team was announced when Atletico Ottawa joined the league. Recently a 9th team was announced who will play out of Langley, BC. Hopefully this league continues to be successful and even more teams can be added such as reps from the prairies, Quebec, southwestern Ontario and another from the Maritimes. For now, I’m excited to see where this will go.
The inaugural season championship format had some interesting twists with a spring season and a fall season however that has been abandoned in favour of a more traditional format. The 2021 regular season ran from June 26 through November 16 and Pacific FC were crowned 2021 Canadian Premier League Champions.
Refer to the CPL site for details on the league. For tickets and more information about Pacific FC, refer to their website. Let’s show our support for the Pacific Football Club and get out to catch a game. See you there!
You want sports entertainment? Victoria’s got it!
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