Michel Belanger

VANCOUVER – Fewer than 1,000 tickets remain for the first Canadian Interuniversity Sport football championship to be staged in British Columbia.

A handful of great seats held by the competing schools will be released for public sale today.

Tickets remain at participating Canada Safeway stores for only $17 while supplies last. Tickets can also be purchased from Ticketmaster or by calling 1-855-GREYCUP. Only lower bowl seats are being sold to ensure an intense university football atmosphere at BC Place.

The family-friendly start time of 6 p.m. Pacific, along with a professional development day for most Metro Vancouver public schools have set the stage for the Vanier Cup to be a fantastic family Friday at the Grey Cup Festival. The early start is also attractive for fans who want to partake in the Festival after the trophy is handed out.

“This is a wonderful platform for CIS to showcase Canadian university football and our community and sponsors have stepped up in a big way to support the future stars of the CFL,” said 2011 Grey Cup Festival general manager Scott Ackles.

“This is a significant step forward for the brand of CIS Football,” said 2011 Vanier Cup Vancouver director Jim Mullin. “The work done by the Grey Cup Festival, MRX and CIS will set the foundation for the Vanier Cup to be a must see event on the Canadian sports calendar not only this Friday, but for years to come.”

The 47th Vanier Cup final pits the Laval University Rouge et Or of Quebec City against the McMaster University Marauders from Hamilton.

The Rouge et Or are one of the great dynasties in Canadian sport. In six visits to the Vanier Cup, they have won every time and are looking to repeat this year. A seventh win would place the school alone atop the list of all-time Vanier wins.

McMaster brings a high-powered offence to the Pacific coast led by quarterback Kyle Quinlan and his favourite target, OUA player of the year Mike DiCroce. The Marauders are making their first Vanier Cup appearance since 1967 and are looking for the first banner in program history.

The CIS final will be the second-best attended in 16 years, trailing only a crowd of 26,787 in Toronto in 2007, a game which was also played the same weekend as the Grey Cup. Three of the last five Vanier Cups have been sellouts in smaller venues, including in 2006 in Saskatoon, as well as in 2009 and 2010 in Quebec City.