Back on Aug. 17, 2020, CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie made this proclamation after the league cancelled the 2020 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"“We are absolutely committed to 2021, to the future of our league and the pursuit of our vision of a bigger, stronger, more global CFL,” Ambrosie said."
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On June 14, every CFL player, coach and staff member, including the Toronto Argonauts, seemed to breathe a sigh of relief when the league finally made a commitment to go ahead with their 2021 season. Starting Aug. 5, the league will go forward with 14 regular-season games and see the Grey Cup being played in Hamilton, Ont., on Dec. 12.
There was a lot of unrest among fans around the country who did their best to patiently wait for this announcement and they deserve a lot of credit for remaining loyal considering they haven’t seen football played on Canadian soil since 2019.
Of course, there are still some approvals needed from public health and government officials but the CFL wouldn’t have taken this step if they didn’t think those were happening. What the league is going to push for is to have as many fans in the stands as possible and that obviously will be determined by vaccination numbers and case counts in each province/city.
Given all the excitement that came with this announcement, it’s now time for the CFL to channel it and take advantage of the opportunity in front of them.
CFL and Toronto Argonauts need to be innovative with bringing fans to games
If there is something many of us have learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that we cannot wait to get back to doing the things we took for granted.
For those in the province of Ontario, there has not been an opportunity to watch a live sporting event since March 2020. The Toronto Maple Leafs welcomed 550 fully vaccinated healthcare workers to their final game of the season after the Montreal Canadiens opened up the Bell Centre to 2,500 fans.
This might be the best chance for the CFL and the Toronto Argonauts to sell football at BMO Field. Unless the Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto FC get the approval to play home games in Canada and decide to return, the Argos would be the only ticket in town.
On paper, the Argos have put together a strong roster with established players on both sides of the ball and if they get off to a good start, this could convince diehard fans to make it a priority to go to games. The real question is when the first game will take place?
Many expect the Argos, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Ottawa Redblacks and the Montreal Alouettes to start their season in Western Canada as they wait for health officials to approve fans at home games. If they can play well enough on the road, it will be easier to get fans to come to BMO Field.
It starts with getting the season ticket holders on board of course, then capitalize on the desire for those looking to go to a game. There will likely still be the CFL stigma in the city but maybe some can be won over with an entertaining product.
Looking at the last five seasons of the Argos tenure at BMO Field, it’s not hard to figure out why attendance has been an issue. Fans haven’t been treated to many wins at home (15 since 2015) and that likely needs to be the biggest change going forward.
It will be fun to see CFL football back considering there have been many changes especially on the roster and with the coaching staff that should provide a lot of intrigue.
What are your thoughts on the CFL returning? Do you expect to go watch a game at BMO Field this season? Let us know in the comments below.