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Victoria to host Canadian women’s basketball team’s Olympic tune-up series

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Canada to play Portugal at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre ahead of Paris Summer Games

Victoria will host Canada’s Women’s National Basketball Team in an international tune-up series shortly before the team vies for Olympic gold.

The Friends of Victoria Basketball Society, in collaboration with the Rifflandia Entertainment Company, is organizing a three-game series between the Canadian and Portugal women’s national teams at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in late June.

The series and a training camp at the University of Victoria will be held about month before the Canadians squad competes at the Summer Olympics in Paris.

Rifflandia’s chief operating officer said the Victoria event’s goal will be to break the record for the largest attendance ever at a Senior Women’s National Team home game.

“We are thrilled to be supporting the Sr. Women’s National Basketball team by hosting a training camp and exhibition game against Portugal in June of this year,” Rifflandia’s Vanessa Leong said in a statement.

Victoria council on Thursday (April 18) approved using $25,000 from the city’s contingency budget to support the events. Leong said they’re grateful for Victoria’s contribution as it will help “celebrate these great Canadian women in their pursuit of gold at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.”

City staff expect the attraction to generate economic benefits for the local community as visitors and residents take part in activities inside the basketball venue and beyond.

A recent report from the Greater Victoria Sport Tourism Commission found the city hosting Hockey Day in Canada in January generated almost $4 million in economic activity for the region.

A proposal for the Canada-Portugal series called the Paris Games a once-in-a-generation moment as both the women’s and men’s national basketball teams earned a spot. Going into the games ranked fifth in the world means the Canadian women are poised to medal for the first time, the proposal says. It added more work is needed to prepare the group for the level of international competition it’ll face in Paris.

The proposal, which was prepared for the province, highlights Victoria as a basketball city after it hosted Olympic and World Cup qualifiers, the Toronto Raptors’ training camp and an exhibition between the Canada and Japan women’s teams in recent years.

The proposal said a $150,000 grant from the province has already been confirmed. Those funds and the city’s $25,000 contribution will underpin the financial viability of the event and ensure basketball fans of all ages and economic brackets can equitably access the games, the proposal said.

An operating agreemment sees a company manage the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre on behalf of the city. That agreement sees Victoria receive $2 from each ticket sold for arena events, which helps fund the city’s long-term debt associated with the construction of the arena. The city said a range of ticket prices will aim to account for the series’ costs while also ensuring affordability.

READ: REZZ, Ja Rule, Tokyo Police Club among 1st-night performers at Victoria’s Rifflandia

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