Toronto Argonauts: Move to BMO Field Can’t Come Soon Enough


Toronto Argonauts smallest crowd since 2003 highlights why move to BMO Field was necessary

The Toronto Argonauts are in the ascendancy right now. Their win at the weekend against the Ottawa Redblacks took them to 6-2 in the standings, tied with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats atop the East Division.

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Given how well the team has played so fat this season, you’d think that would be reflected in the attendance. Unfortunately, that’s not quite the case.

Just 14,748 people turned up on Sunday for the game against Ottawa. As confirmed by the Canadian Press, this represented the smallest crowd for an Argonauts regular season game since 2003.

Despite the Argos troubles in attracting crowds in recent seasons, this figure is still a shock. However, that’s not the way CEO Chris Rudge sees it, as per a statement he released following the 30-24 victory over the Redblacks.

Rudge said: “We expected a lower-than-normal attendance for today’s game against Ottawa, due to a number of reasons, and despite that we were treated to another enthusiastic crowd. We already expect a larger crowd for our next home game on Sept. 11 against Hamilton.”

Aug 17, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; BC Lions running back Pascal Lochard (24) on the bench against the Toronto Argonauts at Rogers Centre with the CN Tower in the background. BC defeated Toronto 33-17. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Now he’s absolutely right about the next game against the Ti-Cats. However, that’s only because a) Ti-Cats games typically do well, due to the amount of people who travel from Hamilton and b) How could you not improve on the smallest crowd in 12 years?!?!

Of more interest, is why Rudge expected such a small turnout for the Ottawa game. Perhaps unsurprisingly, when the CEO was contacted to explain these reasons, a club spokesperson said he was unavailable.

Rick Foley has his own theory as to what the problem is. The Argonauts defensive lineman discussed the matter with the Canadian Press, following the Ottawa game.

In particular, Foley doesn’t believe the marketing department is getting much assistance: “They’re up against it right now. Their budget’s a little low right now and it has been all off-season.

“I’d say they’re doing as good as they can with it, but the PR and the marketing – I don’t even know if they do have a budget.”

It is to be hoped that this alarming aspect will be rectified, once Bell and Larry Tanenbaum take over full control of the Argonauts at the end of 2015. However, the move to BMO Field will also help, with Foley saying: “I think it will be a huge difference.”

Head coach Scott Milanovich echoed this sentiment: “I think we all believe that as time goes on and the changes that are going to take place here with moving to BMO, I think we all have faith that our atmosphere will get better.”

In the meantime, all the Argonauts can do is persevere and continue with their winning ways. This has been an exciting team to watch this season, something which has unfortunately been lost on a Torontonian sports fans, despite their often complaining about the lack of winners in this town.

Ultimately, the Double Blue will always have challenges, competing against the more popular Leafs, Blue Jay and Raptors. However, the move to BMO Field will hopefully re-energize the buzz around the team, and bring both new and existing fans out to experience football in a better stadium environment.

Next: Argonauts running game needs to step up

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