This upcoming weekend, university football will be the talk of the Capital Region’s sports scene.
The 50th Panda Game between the Carleton Ravens and the Ottawa Gee Gees is being hosted this Saturday at TD Place Stadium. The Ravens are winners of four straight Panda games, and are aiming to extend their winning streak to the sold out crowd of 24 000.
Both the Ravens and Gee-Gees are on current winning streaks, which should make it an exciting game. Currently 4-1 on the season, the Ravens are winners of four straight after losing their home opener. The Gee-Gees are 3-1 and winners of three straight.
The Panda Game has quickly become one of the biggest games in Canadian university football, and has become a “can’t miss event” for Ottawa university students. The 2016 Panda game was the largest university football crowd for a regular season game since the 1990s, with this year’s crowd looking even larger. With tickets originally going for around $20.00 to $25.00, tickets are now being sold by scalpers for prices high as $50.00.
The first Panda Game was played back in 1955. According to an article published by the Carleton newsroom, the game first gained its name after an Editor at University of Ottawa’s student newspaper “The Fulcrum” persuaded a local Ottawa store to donate a stuffed panda to the champion. After Carleton shut down their football program in the 1990s, the Panda game was unfortunately cancelled. Returning in 2013 after Carleton brought back their football program, the Panda Game is now stronger than ever.
Both the University of Ottawa and Carleton are highlighting the significance of it being the 50th Panda Game. Both schools describe some exhilarating historical facts about the Panda Game (Such as five live pigs being released on the field in 1977! You’ll have to look that one up to believe it!)
Panda Game 2018 will also mark the one year anniversary of the late Ottawa Gee Gee player, Loic Kayembe. A few days before Panda Game 2017, Kayembe tragically passed away in his sleep. Kayembe’s #49 and the slogan “More Than a Game” has been engraved on the Panda Game trophy to honour his memory.
Whether you’re a football fan, a university student, or a spectator, the Panda Game has safely engraved its legacy in the Ottawa sports scene.