February 05, 2013 - 5:02 PM
The B.C. Lions will be charging back to Kamloops for a couple more years of training.
An announcement released by the Vancouver-based CFL club Monday, stated Kamloops was chosen for the location of their annual training camp until at least 2014.
"We like to think that whatever is going on in Kamloops…it's working," said Jamie Cartmell, B.C. Lions communications director. "We're at a certain level now where Kamloops has sort of raised the bar and that's the bar that we want to maintain."
The club has set up the three-week training camp in the Tournament Capital since 2010. Cartmell said the club trained in Kamloops before the TCC was built, then spent four years in Abbotsford before returning to the Capital when appropriate facilities were completed, and no facilities in the province match those of Kamloops.
The difference? Cartmell said the locker room facilities, the meeting spaces, the housing and resources as well as the quality of the training facilities are the main reasons for the club's new commitment to Kamloops.
"It acts as the spring board to the season," Cartmell said. "It has set us up for some recent success."
The team has celebrated back-to-back first-place finishes in the West Division and a Grey Cup championship in 2011 since their consistent training in Kamloops that began in 2010.
The Lions travel in a pride of about 100 to 115 people each May during camp including about 80 players, 15 coaches and guest coaches as well as support staff and interns.
"There's a significant amount of people," Cartmell said.
Cartmell said agreements are set up with Thompson Rivers University, the City and sponsors. The Lions train at Hillside stadium and in the Tournament Capital Centre, stay on campus at T.R.U. and eat at the pub.
"We've had players and coaches that have gone through NFL training camps, and they say it's as good, if not better, than a lot of NFL training camps," Cartmell said.
He said there are other benefits to the Lions settling in Kamloops.
"We like to think that it brings more profile to the City of Kamloops," he added.
CEO of Tourism Kamloops, Lee Morris, said the camp is beneficial from a tourism standpoint.
"From a tourism perspective, it gives us the opportunity to go out to some of the regional markets," she said. "We've used it as a way to promote people coming to the city."
She said the Lions draw tourists, but also draw media attention.
"You've got the sports announcers, news directors basically covering the training camp," Morris said. "They're all covering the fact that it's in Kamloops."
Cartmell said he expects the next two years to be as successful as past ones.
"We like to think that there is some mutual benefit," he said.
The B.C. Lions training camp is expected to begin on June 2 this year.
— Jessica Wallace
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013