Since 1989, the Rogers Centre has been home to the Toronto Argonauts. Similarly, 1989 was the first year that the Rogers Centre was home to the Toronto Blue Jays. The Jays and other Toronto sports teams, including the Raptors and Leafs have never failed to draw impressive crowds. However, attendance for the Argonauts has been an ongoing issue. In 2014, the average regular season crowd for the Argos was 17,791 — down from 21,926 in 2013 and 23,690 in 2012. The Blue Jays average in 2014 was 29,327, 31,316 in 2013, and 25,921 in 2012. This season’s Blue Jays recently clinched their first playoff berth since 1993, ending what was the longest playoff drought in North American professional sports at the time.
Unfortunately, success for other Toronto sports teams only means more issues for the Argonauts. Last night, the “home team” Toronto Argonauts were victorious in a nail-biting back and forth battle with the Ottawa Redblacks at Ottawa’s TD place – a game which was supposed to be played at the Rogers Centre. However, this game was relocated due to a schedule conflict with the Blue Jays. During Week 1, the Argonauts played another apparent home game against the Edmonton Eskimos in Fort McMurray, Alberta due to the Pan Am Games. Depending on the success of the Jays as they enter the playoffs, the Argos may have to play more of their home games in enemy territory, namely at Hamilton’s Tim Hortons Field. “That is probably from a logistics perspective the easiest of the moves,” Argonauts CEO Chris Rudge told TSN Radio 1050. “We have been talking to the Ticats at great length.” Though the home of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats is only an hour away from Toronto and would be easy for fans to attend, this serves as yet another example of unfair treatment of the team.
However, on May 20th 2015 double blue fans had something to be excited about. The new owners of the Argonauts (Bell and MLSE chairman Larry Tanenbaum) announced that BMO Field is the new home of the team beginning in the 2016 season. “I think it will be a huge difference,” said Argos DL Ricky Foley, noting that it could increase attendance by 5,000 to 10,000 each game. SB Andre Durie also mentioned that the more reasonable size will “bring an intimate fan experience.”
More exciting news for Argonauts fans – a week ago it was announced that the city of Toronto will host the 104th Grey Cup at BMO field. This news comes with obvious memories of what happened last time the city of Toronto hosted a Grey Cup.
Despite numerous challenges faced by the team, the season is not yet over for the Argonauts. After defeating the Redblacks with the help of Chad Owens’ spectacular one-handed, game-winning touchdown, the team is tied for first in the east with the Hamilton Tiger Cats. With playoff season coming up next month, the boatmen hope to remain a forced to be reckoned with and clinch a playoff berth.