Langford-based Canadian Premier League club, Pacific FC, is having its inaugural game this weekend, and the opening celebration is unlike anything the area has ever seen, according to the team’s executive vice president of operations.
“April 28 is going to be one of the most exciting days – not only in Langford – for Greater Victoria, by having a professional soccer team playing their first game,” said Brad Norris-Jones.
Tickets are trending toward a sellout, he added.
Gates will open at 1 p.m. for the inaugural game, three hours before kickoff. Performances from Stages Performing Arts & the Military Dixie Land Band will liven up the fans ahead of the match and help carry out celebrations.
After the match, Towers & Trees and Deep Sea Gypsies are leading a post-game concert and an 18-minute firework show will be capping off the festivities. “So it is a full day of activities,” Norris-Jones said. “I’m not sure if the public really understands what we put into this, but it’s taken us to near-two months of getting everything in line, from the small details.”
“It’s something the community can be really proud of,” he added. Preparation for the festivities have been underway since Feb. 1.
The CPL was founded in 2017 as a way to capitalize on the excitement for soccer in North America coming on the heels of growing viewership in professional soccer over recent years. This April marks the new national professional men’s soccer league’s official opening. Seven clubs from five provinces will play for the CPL championship as well as against premier Canadian clubs from other leagues in the Canadian Championship.
Expansions to the Westhills Stadium, which is getting ready to seat 5,000 fans on opening day, with room for an additional 1,000 upon completion of the stands, makes Langford an obvious choice for Pacific FC to call home, Norris-Jones said.
The players themselves are getting settled, said Pacific striker Marcus Haber. “I think we’re looking sharp…everyone’s counting down the days,” he said, adding that the mood in the locker room is “quite high.”
“You’re going to see on opening day that everyone’s gonna be ready to go.”
Joining a team in its inaugural season, and having to build it from the ground up, is a daunting task that, nonetheless, makes for a chance to do something special.
“It’s an exciting opportunity that’s never gonna happen again,” noted Haber. “I think opening day is one that all the players are going to remember for the rest of their lives.”
The biggest challenge, Haber said, is “understanding that it’s going to be a grind… it’s not going to be easy.” The sweat and strain involved in a lengthy regular season, which for the club will run until October, is a message the veteran is going to pass down to the younger players, he added. At least for now, the team seems more focused on improving their cohesion and conditioning over whatever the opponent has planned.
“The staff’s done a good job of managing everyone. And we’re going to be firing on all cylinders,” Haber said.
Pacific FC’s inaugural game is set for April 28 at 4 p.m. against the HFX Wanderers at Westhills Stadium.