Michel Belanger

VICTORIA – Celebrations of the 47th Vanier Cup – the first national university football championship to be staged in British Columbia – have begun in the provincial capital.

On Thursday, Vanier Cup director Jim Mullin brought the trophy to the provincial legislature, where he was greeted by Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Ida Chong.

Mullin was officially introduced by Minister Chong on the floor of the legislature, and afterwards he and Minister Chong took the storied trophy onto the front steps of the legislature, where they were met by Clint Hamilton, director of athletics and recreation at the University of Victoria and past president of CIS, as well as a group of Victoria football players from local junior high school, high school and junior programs.

“The BC Government has been a supportive partner for the Vanier Cup through their sponsorship of the Grey Cup Festival,” said Mullin. “We have a great opportunity to present a national championship at a price the whole family can afford.”

It was announced on Wednesday that the 21,000-ticket mark had been reached for the CIS football final, with a sellout of the 25,300-seat lower bowl in sight.

Tickets remain at participating Canada Safeway stores in Southwestern BC, for only $17. Tickets can also be purchased from the box office by calling 778-383-0922.

Four teams remain in the hunt for the 2011 Vanier Cup and only two will be left standing following Friday night’s CIS semifinals. The evening starts off with the Uteck Bowl from Moncton, NB as the OUA champion McMaster Marauders face the AUS champion Acadia Axemen at 7:30 p.m. AT (3:30 p.m. PT). The duel is followed by the defending national champion Laval Rouge et Or visiting the four-time Canada West champion Calgary Dinos in the Mitchell Bowl at 7:30 p.m. MT (6:30 p.m. PT). Both games are on TSN and RDS.