For the first time in almost three decades, B.C. Lions fans watched their team outdoors at home during the inaugural event yesterday at the reborn stadium at Empire Fields in East Vancouver.

About 24,500 people took in the preseason game, watching the Lions surrender a fourth quarter lead in the last 30 seconds, losing 36-32 to the visiting Edmonton Eskimos.

“The game’s alright, but the atmosphere is great,” said Lance Van Diermen, 31, of Langley.

“I’m loving the open air. It’s nice and close to the field. It’s good times.”

For fans, accessing washrooms seemed a bit slower, but food and beverage service seemed quicker.

The venue is intimate and much closer to the field than B.C. Place or the old Empire Stadium, where the field was surrounded by a track.

Lions fans on the east side of the stadium are just slightly above the field level.

The Felions on the east side even have to sit during plays so that fans can see.

“There’s like no sidelines,” Van Diermen said. “We’re right on top of them.”

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