7 Oct 2012
Although the fickle, unpredictable and fair weather Toronto Argonaut fan can never be a certainty to appear in the seats for an Argos home game, it is certain that at tomorrow’s game vs the Saskatchewan Riders (called the Saskys??? by Hedger the other night on TSN), the Rogers Centre will see its highest attendance figure this season, guaranteed.
To explain this lets not thank the CFL schedule with the later afternoon start this Thanksgiving, or the NHL lockout, or the lack of another Toronto sports team option, or the CFL stamp promotion, or the Grey Cup loonie, or even the $5 tall boys at the tailgate party. None of these factors have actually made a measurable substantial impact on the Argos attendance figures this 2012 season. As a group – of loyal fans if anything – we have hovered in and around 23,000 people for each home game during the 2012 campaign. Albeit great games and great fans in the City of Toronto….……tomorrow will prove to have more fans in the stands than any other game this season – but they will not necessarily be cheering for the double blue.
We will have to thank, put up with, and enjoy the loyal Saskatchewan fans who will bring a few thousand green souls to the Rogers Centre. A closer look at the attendance figures in other CFL cities when the Riders are in town only proves this point. In almost every instance this current year, the home team enjoys their biggest crowd of the season when the Riders are on the schedule. This was the case in BC on 14 July (34,343), Winnipeg on 09 Sept (30,077), Edmonton on 10 August (43,178), and Calgary on 19 July (32,228). In Montreal on 16 Sept (23,147) this was only 100 people short of the biggest game the following week vs the Argos, AND in Hamilton they were the reason for the largest crowd on 29 June (25,682) not including the forceful labour day classic which is always almost a sure sell out – and was.
So, this brings us to tomorrows tilt on a holiday Monday, and what we should expect to see. I would suggest the Rider fans will bring another 3,000 to 4,000 people to the west side stands in the stadium. Add this to the Argos average attendance this season and we can easily expect a comfortable 25,000 to 27,000 fans to be in attendance – and thus what will be our biggest regular season crowd of the year. Using this as a barometer, if the fickle, unpredictable, and fair weather Toronto Argo fan does in fact show up, we might be looking at a crowd tomorrow almost kissing 30,000 – and wouldn’t that be great.
It’s time the team realizes this show of support from the city. They have a great product on the field, some great things going on off the field…….and for the first time in a few seasons a competitive club who are going in the right direction at the right time.
Years ago in 1996 when Flutie was displaying his magic for the Argos, it was over a year before people in City of Toronto noticed and turned their attention into their attendance at the dome (see: 1996 Hamilton Grey Cup – 4,000 short of a sell out – where were the Argos fans then??). Years later people would reminisce how they wished they had gone to more games when Flutie was here……and then gone – two glorious Grey Cup Championships later. It is time (and for the fact we are hosting the 100th Grey Cup in November), that we the Toronto Argonauts fans step up, show up, and enjoy the ride of 2012……..we haven’t been able to experience one like this in many years. I guarantee the biggest crowd of the season tomorrow……….but I would be so thankful on this Thanksgiving if this is because of more people in the seats yelling ARRRRGGOOOOSS!
Grey Cup 1996 NOTE: In the week leading up to the game in which organizers predicted a sell out of roughly 42,000, it was determined that they were in fact short of this by roughly 10,000. Keeping in mind The Argos (and Flutie) were playing only a half hr drive down the QEW, this was a bit of a surprise and embarrassment to everyone in the league. Believe it or not, Tim Hortons locations in Hamilton came to the rescue and (with the league) devised a scheme to offer Grey Cup tickets (starting only 3 days before the game) for $25 tax incl a piece. The tickets were available for purchase at any Tim Hortons location in the city, as many as you wanted to buy. Many tickets were sold in those few days for what would turn out to be one of the greatest championship games ever played. In the end we still sat watching with 4,000 empty seats among us. Hamilton has not hosted another Grey Cup game since.