Queen’s University and the City of Kingston have been selected to host both the 2023 and 2024 Vanier Cup Championships.
It will mark the first time that Queen’s has hosted the Canadian University football championship dating back to 1965, with Toronto playing host every year until 2004.
Queen’s Athletics Staff along with representatives from U Sports were joined by Queen’s Principal Patrick Deane and Kingston Mayor Bryan Paterson, as well as the Vanier Cup itself, to make the announcement on Thursday morning at Richardson Stadium.
Kingston becomes the eighth city to host the championship, and U Sports Chief Sport Officer Lisette Johnson-Stapley said Queen’s -and Kingston’s- application for the two championships was a compelling one.
“U Sports is thrilled to partner with the Queen’s University to present this 58th edition of the Vanier Cup,” Johnson Stapley said in a release.
“The facilities, the city itself, where it is in Ontario right along the 401, it just offered so much.”
Linda Melnick, Executive Director of Queen’s Athletics and Recreation, said while the two year bid required a larger plan and vision, it will really allow the university and city to make the second of two championships stand out.
She said while they still plan and expect a great experience for 2023, there will be more focus on community engagement and building a foundation to “knock it out of the park” in 2024.
Melnick says the football program at Queen’s has made great strides over the years and while hosting the event puts some added pressure on the season, it also rewards players for their dedication by giving them something to be excited about.
“You just actually want to host an event like this almost for them,” Melnick said.
“I’m really hoping for the student athletes at Queen’s here, they view this as a pathway to success for them.”
While hosting doesn’t guarantee a spot in the game, one player at the announcement assured that the Gaels would be qualifying for the championship game this year.
Last season, Queen’s finished second in the OUA conference and fell in the Yates Cup to Western.
Mayor Bryan Paterson said aside from the excitement for Queen’s and it’s football program, hosting an event of this magnitude provides a tremendous opportunity for economic impact in the larger Kingston community.
“We’re ready to host and I think it’s going to be a great experience not only here at the stadium on the field, but I think it will be a great event in the community as well,” Paterson said.
He said the impact within Kingston’s downtown and tourism sector could be millions of dollars.
Paterson added that it’s a step in a grander vision for the City of Kingston to host more large scale events, specifically sporting events.
Recently, Kingston also put together a bid to host the 2024 Memorial Cup and the Frontenacs were one of four OHL teams vying to host the massive junior hockey tournament that spans roughly two weeks.
On Wednesday, it was announced that the Saginaw Spirit were instead chosen as the successful bidding city, with Kingston losing out on an estimated $20.4 million in economic impact thanks to the decision.
Paterson said given that lost opportunity, the news of the Vanier Cup coming to Kingston is even more welcome.
He says Kingston being in the thick of the Memorial Cup bidding process and now successfully bringing the next two Vanier Cup championships shows that the city has become a real player in attracting large events.
“I think this is a great announcement and well timed,” Paterson said.
“When you’re competing for large scale sporting events sometimes you’re going to be successful and sometimes you won’t be… I think it just shows Kingston’s really stepping up onto the national stage and looking to host some of these major sporting events.”
Richardson Stadium is currently undergoing construction but Melnik said construction is on time and expected to be completed in July, ahead of Queen’s training camp opening in August.
The Vanier Cup will be broadcast on CBC and in French on TVA Sports, and additional info including ticket sales will launch in the coming weeks.
Queen’s will also be hosting the 2023 U Sports Women’s Soccer Championships, and the 2024 Men’s Volleyball Championships making for a busy hosting schedule at the university.
The 2023 Vanier Cup will be held at Richardson on November 25, 1PM.