Toronto Argonauts Grey Cup rally inspires hope, but work is just getting started

OTTAWA, ON - NOVEMBER 26: Marcus Ball
OTTAWA, ON - NOVEMBER 26: Marcus Ball /

The Toronto Argonauts held a rally at Nathan Phillip’s Square to celebrate their Grey Cup victory and now look to build the next CFL dynasty.

Among the many speeches made as the Toronto Argonauts celebrated their Grey Cup triumph over the Calgary Stampeders, GM Jim Popp’s had a simple message to fans.

“If you’re not a believer, start believing,”

Both Popp and Trestman showed appreciation to the players and the staff for buying in from day one and changing the culture of a franchise that needed a refresh.

As the GM and head coach explained the formula that led to the Argos success, love and family. Bringing together a group of talented individuals who did not know each other but learned to play for each other.

"“The formula (for success) was selflessness and talent leads to love. And let me be clear, it wasn’t love as an emotion, which we have here now, it was love for each other as a team, respecting the dignity of others … you see the connections we have with each other now and it makes the difference between winning and losing.”Trestman said to the crowd."

This came just before Popp shared some humour with the crowd.

“If you haven’t joined us, join. I’ll tell you, you’re joining the Love Boat,” which made more sense after Trestman gave his speech.

The three players chosen to address the crowd were Grey Cup MVP DeVier Posey, the locker room motivator Marcus Ball and their fearless leader Ricky Ray.

Usually Posey is not the most vocal person but he made sure to let fans know how much the team appreciated their support.

“I want to shout out to everyone from Mimico, to Etobicoke, Lakeshore to Markham to Vaughan to Mississauga, thank you,” said Posey, who had 175-yards in the Grey Cup. “BMO (Field) was crazy a couple of weeks ago for the Eastern finals. You guys had so much energy, we fed off that energy, and it got us to the Grey Cup.”

More from Tip of the Tower

With questions surrounding Ray’s future at the age of 38, the crowd began chanting “one more year,” to which he responded “only one? Why not two?” It will not be an easy title defence for the Argos but if Ray were to come back it would solve their biggest offseason question.

The team will give Ray the time he needs to make a decision and right now the sense is that he wants to come back. There is the temptation to go out on top as a champion but as well as the desire to see how far this can go.

Toronto is in a position to be the top team in the East going forward depending on what Ottawa and Hamilton do in the offseason. While the management and coaching staff will work on getting the team ready for next season, the front office will look to have more people in the stands.

There is no quick solution to selling out BMO Field, talking to fans at the rally showed some encouragement as past season ticket holders that got rid of their subscription will likely return. That should be the first step, get the fans who gave up season tickets in the past to come back.

The next step should be to put together an affordable flex pack option like the Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto FC have. The Argos had a three-game option that started at $84 this season with the most expensive option at $205.

A 12-game flex pack for the Blue Jays starts at $214 for non premium games and $252.73 for premium games, the most expensive for a non premium game is $803 and for premium it is $859.  That averages out from $18 to $67 a game for non premium games or $21 to $72 a game for premium games.

TFC’s five-game flex pack starts at $135 (unfortunately the top end price is not viewable since it is the playoffs) and that is $27 a match.

Flex packs appeal more to a younger crowd because they can split it with friends and family granted that there is a commitment and financial interest. The three-game pack is a not a bad investment but the price has to attract the younger crowd looking to experience a CFL game.

The other target group should be families as there were many kids at the rally on Tuesday. The Argos have their Huddle Up campaign going to schools to fight against bullying so there is a presence in the community but it can be much greater.

Players were taking the time to sign as many autographs and talk to as many fans on their way out from the celebration. They were not guided out from the venue through a hidden exit, they were in an area where fans could talk and show their appreciation, something that is not easily done with the other Toronto teams.

Next: Argonauts emabrace underdog mentality to win the Grey Cup

If the Argos can continue to have the results on the field and find a way to engage with fans, the support will come but it will not change quickly, it will take some time. With this ownership group, along with a strong coaching and management staff there is optimism that they can get it done.