Edmonton and Vancouver have recently been picked to host the Grey Cup in 2010 and 2011 respectively. As such, this once again raises the question of where the 100th Grey Cup will be played.
If you believe what you read, then apparently Toronto was already awarded the rights as long as three years ago. I’m not sure I agree with this, purely because, before 2007, Toronto had not held a Grey Cup since 1992.
Why would the CFL have already taken the risk of giving the main event to a city which, when it last hosted the game, proved to be a disaster with 16,000 empty seats? It would make more sense to see how the 2007 finale played out before making any such decisions.
In the end, the 95th Grey Cup was a success, with Ontario generating $80 million, including over $50 million in Toronto alone. If we look at this matter objectively, it does appear that T.O. has the inside track on hosting the big game in 2012.
Consider that the Argonauts are the oldest professional sports team in North America, having won more Grey Cups than any other team in CFL history. Added to this, Toronto is home to the headquarters of the CFL.
Also, despite being a fan of having the games played outdoors, Rogers Centre offers perfect playing conditions if (when) the weather takes a turn for the worse. The CFL doesn’t want Mother Nature affecting the festivities for what will be one of the biggest sporting events to ever take place in Canada.
I should stress that I have absolutely no problem with another city being awarded the game. For example, Saskatchewan and Calgary would possibly appreciate the honour of hosting the main event more than the people of Toronto.
Both cities have more loyal fanbases than the one in Southern Ontario. This is backed up by the fact that both teams regularly beat the Double Blue for average attendance per game.
Ultimately though, the smaller stadium capacities will probably cost the Roughriders and Stampeders. The same rationale applies to Winnipeg and Hamilton.
You can also take Edmonton and Vancouver out of the equation. Despite both cities easily beating Toronto for seating capacity in their respective stadiums, the fact that they are hosting the two Grey Cups that precede the 2012 event goes against them.
Also, bear in mind that the next three Grey Cups are all being hosted in cities that have teams in the West Division. My take is that the CFL will not want a fourth consecutive game played in the Pacific/Mountain time zones.
I’m sure this has some Montreal fans thinking, "Hold on, what about us?" True, they play in the East Division and have Olympic Stadium, which can hold more people than the Argonauts' home ground. You could go even further and say that Montreal has the top four attendances in Grey Cup history.
However, and I hate to bring politics into a sporting column, I personally don’t think it’s right for a province, which has held referendums as recently as 1980 and 1995 to decide on if they will become a separate county, to host what is in effect a celebration of part of Canada’s history and culture.
So, does this mean Toronto is "home and dry" in securing the 100th Grey Cup? In the interest of playing devil's advocate, I do have one suggestion to make to commissioner Mark Cohon.
Why not consider provisionally offering the game to Ottawa? As I wrote in my last column, there is currently a battle going on in the nation's capital to decide which of the conditional franchise offers for a CFL and MLS team to support.
I still believe there’s a place for both teams. However, if Ottawa’s civic officials are determined to only support one team, having the rights to the biggest all-Canadian sporting event in the country’s history could help swing the decision in favour of the CFL.
Ottawa would make a killing financially. It could also give the city the chance to showcase their new stadium and prove that they are both capable and serious about maintaining a CFL team.
Don’t get me wrong though. I’m not saying that this is necessarily the right move to make. I still believe that no matter what perspective you judge this situation from, we still keep coming back to Toronto.
The first ever Grey Cup was played in Toronto, so it would offer a perfect symmetry, going full circle and having the game returning to where it all began.
Will I prove to be right? Who knows? I am confident, though, that whoever has the privilege of hosting the 100th anniversary of this great occasion will do a sterling job and make everyone connected proud to be a CFL fan.
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