Read a story at the CBC website this week about the crummy attendance the Toronto Argonauts drew for their game against Ottawa this past weekend at Rogers Centre.
It was a little over 14,000. This gate for one of the CFL’s most storied franchises, my friends, is sad.
What’s worse, this was a game against a division rival, and the Argos were fighting for first place (and in fact are in first place as of today). And according to the story, the roof was open and it was a beautiful day for football.
I’ll tell you, folks where I live now would pack the stadium for a game like that! And quite honestly, here in Saskatchewan, fans are really worried about the Argos. Fans are deathly afraid the problems in Toronto will continue right into their new stadium next year, and ultimately drag down and ruin their beloved CFL.
The big excuse for the low crowd Sunday is that folks in Toronto were more interested in the Blue Jays game versus the Angels on TV. But that still makes no sense, because surely there are TVs on in the Rogers Centre where fans could still watch the Blue Jays. And people have smartphones these days and can follow the Blue Jays live from their seats at the Argos game. I still don’t get it.
Now, the reality is there is intense competition for the pro-sports dollar in Toronto, more so than anywhere else in Canada. Moreover, this the only CFL market in the country that has to compete directly with Major League Baseball. It’s tougher than ever now that the Blue Jays are on such a roll. I get that.
I also get the fact that the Argos will be moving to BMO Field next year. But the Argos haven’t even been outdrawing Toronto FC, either! 14,000 people is a low CFL number whether at BMO or Rogers Centre, or anywhere.
I personally think the Argos deserve a second look from Toronto sports fans. Among other things, this franchise has managed some winning seasons and even a Grey Cup title in recent years. That’s more than what Toronto has gotten from the Maple Leafs. Not only are still selling out games, but they are still charging an arm and a leg for it, far more than what Argos tickets go for.
Yet the Leafs’ product is terrible! I’ll say this about the Argos: their product is not terrible. Not this year.
Moreover, the point must be made that the CFL is worth supporting. It is a longstanding tradition in this country with a rich history and some name players. The Grey Cup is a national tradition as well. On top of that, the product is exciting. Also, I know there are lots of football fans in Toronto. The problem is many have this snooty attitude to the CFL. They say they prefer the NFL, but even when the NFL was holding games in Toronto fans wouldn’t go to those, either.
I am starting to ramble on, but the point is that there are lots of selling points for the Argos in Toronto. So go out there and sell, darnit! The CFL is still a great product and there is no reason for the Argos to languish like this. There, that’s my football rant for today.