The fallen members of Vancouver’s sports world

To all the sports the city has loved — and treated poorly — before

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A drawing of an orca trying to hold up a basketball, frisbee, and roller skates.f
I’m not one to point fingers, but one businessman played a role in two teams leaving the city. I’m just saying! ILLUSTRATION: Angela Shen / The Peak

By: Isabella Urbani, Sports Editor

The Vancouver Grizzlies (1995–2001)

We can’t start talking about forgotten Vancouver sports teams without starting with the Grizzlies (aka the team with the perfect powder blue jerseys people love to parade around in downtown). In theory, the idea of having a basketball team and hockey team play out of the same arena the one and only General Motors (GM) Place — was great. Plus, the Grizzles were in operation when Michael Jordan was still playing basketball. Surely, people would flock out to see those games? In practice, a horrible nightmare. 

How bad was it? Well, the original owner, John McCaw Jr., was from Seattle. That didn’t go over well when it came time to acquire local sponsors for the club. The attendance wasn’t anything that stood out on paper for the first few years, but it went rock bottom when the team could barely keep their attendance record beyond 13,000 in a 19,000 arena in their last two years. The real cherry on top was Vancouver never receiving the first overall pick in the NBA draft. This left the team with little to no starpower, and when they eventually got the second overall pick in the 1999 draft, their selection refused to play for the team. Go figure. 

The Vancouver Voodoo (1993–1996)

How the Vancouver Voodoo could fold with a name like that is beyond me. A+ for alliteration. I bet you’re surprised to find out that this was a roller hockey team one of the twelve founding roller hockey teams in the professional Roller Hockey International league. The league folded three years after the Voodoo’s demise. Just like any other professional sport, the games were aired on television during its brief three-year existence. However, what was unique to this sport was many retired NHL players flipped over to play roller hockey when their career was over. Former Canuck Jose Charbonneau spent a year during the Voodoo’s inaugural season playing for the team while he was still a Canuck. Not to mention, the team itself was also co-founded by former Canuck player Tiger Williams

A familiar foe actually played a role in the Voodoo’s disbandment. It was none other than McCaw Jr.! In 1996, the Voodoo started playing at GM Place after playing at both the PNE and the Pacific Coliseum. However, when McCaw bought out Orca Bay Sports & Entertainment, who owned the Voodoo, he put an end to the team. However, the team did finish in first place in their division each year. Post-season? That’s another story. 

The Vancouver Riptide (2014–2017)

I don’t know if you can call this one an oldie, but it definitely wasn’t a goodie. The Riptide finished their final season in the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) with only one win in 14 games. The team’s poor showing combined with a lack of community-wide viewership, despite coverage on television, forced the owners to pull the team from the city. In an official statement regarding the decision, co-owner Jim Llyod voiced his frustration about pouring “hundreds of thousands of dollars” into a team the “BC market does not fully embrace.” That may be the case, but the Riptide were also the 10th team in AUDL history to drop out of the league, so maybe there’s a bigger problem there.