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Die-hard soccer fans are fuelling the surge in Pacific FC popularity

Tuesday’s lower attendance was a logistical anomaly, according to the club
People of all ages are diehard fans of Pacific FC, like Ariana Parandeh, 10 and her mother Danielle. (Bailey Moreton/News Staff)

Fans were treated to a dramatic evening Tuesday night (May 24) in the Starlight Stadium, as Pacific FC lost in penalties after having equalized with the last kick of the game. But there were plenty of empty seats in the stands, with 1,466 as the official attendance.

Usually, the crowd is at least a 1,000 people larger, with several games topping 3,000 spectators, and two or three topping 4,000, according to Brad Norris-Jones, executive vice-president of operations.

A big reason for that was season tickets. Fifteen games are included in a season ticket – usually the 14 home games in the Canadian Premier League season with the other being the home Canadian championship game. But this year, PFC are in the CONCACAF League after winning last year’s CPL, so that game was included instead of the Canadian championship game, meaning the club had a short window to sell tickets for the game on Tuesday.

At the beginning of the season, the club’s chief executive officer Rob Friend had said they hope to see sell-out crowds. The City of Langford has budgeted money to start the process of moving a hydro pole, which would clear the way for adding a stand to the north side of the stadium. Norris-Jones said they hope to work towards averaging between four and five thousand, but that’ll take time.

“It’s been up over last year, but we’re out of COVID. It’s an interesting dilemma, or it’s an interesting problem that all sports are going to have in the next year to figure out where the fans are coming from and how you’re going to re-engage them and it’s been positive for us being up over two years ago.”

Norris-Jones was also encouraged by the number of families they have coming to games.

Even if the crowd size was smaller on Tuesday, you can rely on seeing familiar faces at Starlight Stadium when the soccer is on.

The loudest contingent of these diehard fans is the Lake Side Buoys, a supporter group that usually accompanies their chanting with drums and also commonly with bagpipes, played by Drew Shaw. He has been a member of the supporters group since it formed in 2009 to cheer on the Victoria Highlanders.

“I think pipes are a feel-good instrument that people like to clap along to. It’s all part of the Canadian colours and flavors of football, this is one of them.”

ALSO READ: Penalty heartbreak for PFC in Canadian Championship classic


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