TORONTO – As the regular season gets closer and closer the excitement around the Argonauts move to BMO Field grows and grows. Throughout the entire off season we’ve heard about the atmosphere and excitement that will come with not only playing in an intimate stadium but from what 26,000 screaming fans will generate. Now when it comes to the season opener an Argo Ti-Cat game is without a doubt an easy sell. To say nothing of the roughly 1 to 2 thousand Hamilton fans making their way down the QEW I will buy a Chad Owens Hamilton jersey if their is one empty seat in the house. But has the team overstated things a little bit? Is it realistic to expect a 50, 60 70 percent increase in attendance from previous years through the entire season.
Last year’s ridiculous set of circumstances helped create an average attendance that was completely irrelevant an unrepresentative in terms of the relating the teams overall popularity. If I were working in the Argos marketing department I’d take last year and flush it down the toilet. Finally this year the team has a committed ownership group an experienced management team and a beautiful new venue to call home. But new stadiums always lead to intrigue and a quick sell. Eventually the novelty wears off and everyone goes back to doing what they used to.
So what if not every game is sold out? What if that Monday game in July, hardly a night that screams CFL football, is a couple thousand short of capacity? The answer to that is a simple one. So what!
The 2016 season is in no way the finished story but rather the beginning. Thus the hash tag #NewBeginnings on the teams marketing plan. Frankly the team will be so better off if they can build slow and steady. Embed themselves within the community. Grab the attention of those lovable millennials. Reach out to those Fathers like myself who for years never went to watch a game at Rogers Centre but are now so excited for not only this Thursday but the opportunity to share the experience with their Children. I’m sure the team has many ties to amateur football throughout Toronto and the surrounding GTA but if fewer and fewer kids are playing road hockey now a days even fewer are going to a park to throw the football around.
That is why a steady hand in terms of selling tickets will benefit the team down the road. The Argos need to become something that they aren’t now. They need to become part of the conversation. Sustained success and a continued exposure within the entire community can do that. They don’t need 26,000 season seat holders and in future seasons they won’t have a Grey Cup game at the bottom of the rainbow to help sell tickets.
Last week’s preseason was a great first start. The fans loved the tailgating experience and BMO Field passed with flying colours. The battle now is to make sure it’s just not a one off.
Written by: Anthony Ciardulli