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Lions, Whitecaps and B.C. Place sign agreement with Labatt

The Canadian Press

1/26/2011 5:05:40 PM

VANCOUVER -- The B.C. Lions and Vancouver Whitecaps have signed a five-year deal with Labatt Breweries to make Budweiser their official beer.

Under the agreement, Budweiser will be the beer poured at B.C. Place Stadium. The logo will also be included on the media backdrop of both the CFL's Lions and the Whitecaps, who will play their first season in Major League Soccer this year.

Paul Barber, the Whitecaps chief executive officer, said Budweiser has a tradition with soccer.

"Budweiser's support for soccer at all levels -- from the FIFA World Cup down to local leagues -- makes this the perfect partnership for our club, as we begin a new era as a Major League Soccer club,"

Barber said Wednesday in a release.

The Whitecaps will open their inaugural MLS season March 19 against Canadian rival Toronto FC.

The Lions hope to be playing in November when B.C. Place hosts the Grey Cup.

B.C. Place, located in downtown Vancouver, is currently undergoing $565 million in renovations. The centrepiece of the remodelling is a $458-million retractable roof.

The B.C. Pavilion Corp., the Crown corporation that runs the stadium, says the renovations will be completed in the fall.

Both the Lions and Whitecaps will begin their seasons at Empire Field, a 27,500-seat temporary facility located on the Pacific National Exhibition grounds in East Vancouver.