U SPORTS M/W SOCCER: A Look at the National Championship Hosts for 2021-23

Vancouver, BC- On June 8, U SPORTS cancelled all of its fall championships for 2020, however, the hosts who missed out will get their time in the spotlight. 

Men’s and women’s soccer, two of the championships which were affected by the cancellations saw their national championship hosts unveiled by U SPORTS on July 3. The standout factor in the host selection was the deferral of selected schools by one year, in order to accommodate for the previous cancellations. 

 “U SPORTS would like to thank the members who originally bid on the Fall 2021 and 2022 championships for accepting to delay hosting until 2022 and 2023,” said Lisette Johnson-Stapley, Chief Sport Officer at U SPORTS in a press release. “This allows the hosts of the cancelled Fall 2020 national championships to present the 2021 editions. We’re excited to unveil our fall championship lineup for the next three years and look forward to a safe return to play in university sport across Canada.”

Men’s Soccer Hosts 2021-2023

2021: Ottawa, ON- Carleton University 

MNP Park - Wikipedia
Carleton’s MNP Park (Carleton University)

The next U SPORTS soccer championship’s main field will be the on-campus MNP Park, which holds a capacity of 3’500, more than suitable for U SPORTS soccer. Although some would prefer it be hosted at the flashier, larger TD Place, the stadium is too large for the expected crowds, and likely too expensive, and could be pre-occupied with CFL commitments. MNP Park will serve well and attract more students being closer to Carleton’s semi-suburban campus. Carleton previously hosted the U SPORTS men’s soccer championships in 1984, 2002, and 2008. 

2022: Kamloops, BC- Thompson Rivers University

TRU WolfPack 🐺 on Twitter: "Hillside stadium getting ready for ...
Hillside Stadium is actually on a hillside (City of Kamloops)

The smaller locale of Kamloops, BC could offer the perfect backdrop for the men’s soccer tournament, however, the capacity of Hillside Stadium may need to be expanded. With a permanent seating capacity of 1’060, it will be the smallest stadium since last hosting the tournament in 2017. It is intriguing to see the tournament head back to Kamloops after hosting five years prior, but it gives the TRU Wolfpack another shot at their first national championship. Aside from the technicalities, Kamloops will host the most picturesque tournament of them all.

2023: Cape Breton, NS- Cape Breton University

Cape Breton University – Study at CBU
Cape Breton’s venue (Study at CBU)

From one side of the country to the other, the switch of hosts from 2022 to 2023 will be one the largest distances between any competition outside of international sporting events. Although the CBU Capers has been one of the more successful teams in men’s soccer, they’ve never hosted a championship. The Cape Breton Health and Recreation Complex does not have ample seating like the other two school’s, but one imagines their bid included plans for accommodating spectators.

Women’s Soccer Hosts 2021-2023

2021: Cape Breton NS- Cape Breton University

Although Cape Breton has time to figure out the men’s championships, it’s not the same for the women’s championships which they will host in 2021. The school has experience hosting the championships, having won on their home turf in 2007, however, there is only so much one can take from a tournament over a decade ago. Like the men in 2023, the 2021 women’s tournament will be hosted at the Cape Breton Health and Recreation Complex on campus.

2022: Laval, QC – University of Laval

Telus-UL Stadium at the University of Laval is the largest venue of all the announced soccer championship hosts . Known for frequent large football crowds, the stadium renovated in 2012, now houses over 12’500 seats. The entire facility also houses three soccer pitches, providing ample room for in-tournament training. Laval last hosted the tournament 2014, and last won the title in 2016. 

2023: Kingston, ON- Queen’s University

Picture of Richardson Stadium
Queen’s Richardson Stadium (Queen’s Gaels Athletics)

Laval may boast one of the newest stadiums in U SPORTS, but Queen’s has one of the oldest. Richardson Stadium, originally built in 1921, was renovated 2014 and continues to be one of the hotbeds for U SPORTS fandom in Canada. An on-campus venue, with good sight-lines in a university town, seems like the perfect storm for the school’s first tournament as hosts. The newest edition of Richardson Stadium has a listed capacity of 8000+, presenting a tantalizing possibility of large crowds. 

Aside from Queen’s athletics, the stadium has hosted notable international events such as Canada Soccer FIFA World Cup qualifying matches for the 2006 tournament.

Although it was crushing for many student-athletes to see their national tournaments cancelled for 2020, many will be able to return, since there will be no eligibility charged against them for 2020. However, while eligibility will not be an issue, the idea staying in school for an additional year will likely force many older athletes out of potential championship participation.

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