Bannister, Landy and I: Making History at Empire Stadium

Posted by Daniel on Dec 23, 2009

I note that a temporary football/soccer stadium is planned for the site of the old Empire Stadium at Hastings Park on the eastern edge of Vancouver. The temporary grounds will provide a home for the Lions and the Whitecaps in 2010-2011 while BC Place gets a new roof.

The original, built for the 1954 British Empire Games, held many memories when it was demolished in 1993. That first summer it was the site of the famous Miracle Mile when Roger Bannister outduelled John Landy in the mile race. It was the first time two runners completed the distance in less than four minutes in the same race.

The Lions made their home there until 1983 and I remember attending several games with my father to watch Willie Fleming and By Bailey in action.

Both Elvis Presley (1957) and the Beatles (1964) performed at the Stadium and while I was not in the audience for either concert the park did play a small role in my personal history. In 1962 I participated in the high school track championships which in those days took place each spring at the Stadium. Entered in the junior half mile -- I was in Grade 9 -- I recall with embarassment finishing eighth (i.e. last) in the race. My school's cheering section was located right at the tape. Needless to say, they had nothing to cheer about in that race as the school's representative (that would be me) came struggling, exhausted, across the finish line a full quarter of a track's length behind any other runner.

Good times!