Realty One

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


TORONTO - The Toronto Argonauts are giving Canadian football fans a break.

The CFL club has reduced prices for this year's Grey Cup game at BMO Field with tickets starting at $89 and thousands more being available for less than $150. Under previous pricing, the cheapest tickets were $169 and $199 and went up to $899.

Argos president Michael Copeland said Tuesday the adjustments will affect mostly the mid-range tickets for the Nov. 27 contest at BMO Field.

"Ultimately, we want the stadium to be full,'' Copeland said. "We want people to understand how great it is to see a football game at BMO Field, especially one of the scale and excitement of the Grey Cup.

"It's a business and when you run these events you do so to try and generate revenue. But if those best-laid and well-intentioned plans aren't serving the people you're trying to serve appropriately then it's up to you to do the right thing. That's what we feel we've done.''

Copeland said the changes reflect a recognition by the Argos that Toronto's sports landscape has been jam-packed the last year. The NBA all-star game, deep playoff runs by the Raptors and Blue Jays and the World Cup of Hockey have all happened here this year.

The NHL Centennial Classic between the Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings will take place Jan. 1 at BMO Field, while the 2017 world junior hockey championship will be held jointly in Toronto and Montreal. And the Raptors tip off their regular season Sept. 26.

"When we originally set these ticket prices, we based it on our experience in operating Grey Cups, our understanding of the Toronto market and what similar events in the market were priced at,'' Copeland said. "But we realize Toronto is in a very unique time right now, you can argue this is the busiest time for major sporting events, perhaps ever, in the city.

"What we learned over the course of the year was our ticket pricing was very good in certain parts of the stadium, notably the higher and lower ends. It's really the middle where we felt we needed to make an adjustment ... so people who want to come to the game can afford to come.''

Copeland doesn't believe the Argos made mistakes with their original pricing scheme.

"At the time, the ticket prices were only marginally higher (six per cent) than last year in Winnipeg,'' Copeland said. "The Toronto market is generally a higher-priced ticket for sporting events and we looked at the 2012 Grey Cup game (won by Toronto at the Rogers Centre) that had over 53,000 people there and we're in a lower-capacity stadium.

"So the prices as we set them, in looking at other events in the city, we felt were competitive and reasonable. What we learned was the market dynamics had changed.''

BMO Field's Grey Cup seating capacity will be expanded from 28,000 to roughly 35,000. Copeland said the contest is roughly half sold with most of the higher- and lower-priced tickets having already been purchased.

Copeland said the Argos will be contacting people who've already purchased Grey Cup tickets shortly to discuss the changes.

The 2016 season was to be an important one for the Argos. Not only did they have a new home stadium but were in their first year under the new ownership of Bell and Larry Tanenbaum, the chairman of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment.

But Toronto has struggled this year, compiling a 5-11 record and finishing 2-7 at BMO Field. And the Argos face having to beat Calgary (14-1-1) and Edmonton (8-7) on the road to have any chance of making the CFL playoffs.

Copeland admitted the Argos' struggles haven't helped Grey Cup ticket sales.

"Everybody wants to see your hometown team in the game,'' he said. "Now, we're certainly still in the mix and we hope to be in the game at this point but if there was a little more confidence in our fanbase about that, then I'd think that would certainly spur ticket sales on.''

Copeland doesn't believe ticket sales are a sign fans are reluctant to endure the elements to watch the Grey Cup game.

"I truly believe there's a certain dynamic and excitement that's added by virtue of being outside,'' he said. "Toronto in November is manageable.

"The games you remember are the ones that were outside, those are the ones that sort of live on.''

(The Canadian Press)


Anonymous said...

Now, if I could only find a cheap way to get there.....

Anonymous said...

They didnt know this stuff was coming when they planned for the GC. Maybe they should move it somewhere else. Typical to plan = well you know the rest.

Anonymous said...

Just another embarassing day for the CFL!

Anonymous said...

Grey cup is a tough sell in big American cities.

Anonymous said...

This city doesn't care about the CFL. Move the Argos. And it is the 3rd Grey Cup in 10 years, so it is saturated in the market in appearances. My apologies to the Argos diehards with the few thousands there are, but this team anywhere else is going to get more fans. It is sad but they just don't know how to market this team. Give away tickets to school kids and get them to come and hopefully get them interested. Build the fanbase at a younger age group and hopefully see the dividends later on. They just are not on the radar and they don't care. So why bother anymore. Please move the Argos.

Anonymous said...

Keep Putting down Toronto. Want to see crowds, look at the blue jays. 50M every night. Just remember Toronto has 3 professional sports teams. How many does Regina have? Which people can debate is top tier football. I am from Regina, but leave Toronto alone. They are supporting the Jays right now, Canada's team!!!!

Anonymous said...

I won't pick on the Argos but they are struggling with or without the Jays playing right now. They have set back there team from releasing Harris to there 3 top receivers, oh yeah and Chad Owens before season start makes it pretty tough to bring crowds in and be competitve in anyway. Also makes it tough when they travel the short distance to watch the NFL. I don't want the Argos to move but they need to get management heads straight...I put most of the blame on Jim Barker for the disaster. I do believe they will manage somehow.

Anonymous said...

Why is it even in TO this year? Should have been Hamilton or Ottawa's turn.

Anonymous said...

Grey Cup should be held in any CFL city other than Toronto. You need a good base of local fans to buy tickets and support events. Toronto has to rebuild the fan base, it can be done.

Anonymous said...

"Grey cup is a tough sell in big American cities."

Zing. The funny thing though is that I bet it would probably do just as well if not better in a big American city like Houston, Chicago or LA because they wouldn't have the same hangups about the CFL that Toronto does.

After all, let's not forget that over 30,000 once showed up for a neutral site preseason CFL game in Miami.

joe bunyawk said...

I love the above the comment: "...leave Toronto alone. They are supporting the Jays right now..."

That's exactly right...when they start losing again, the crowds will fade again. It happened immediately with ticket prices being slashed for Game Four of the ALCS after they lost Game Three.

As for "Canada's Team"...they aren't mine, just as the Riders aren't everyone's cup of tea across the country. I would almost prefer if the Riders used a phrase like "a family tradition" because that's really what it is when it comes to cheering for the team.

The Argos are a dumpster fire right now, unfortunately one of several in the league. I believe Hamilton should have been granted a Grey Cup in their new stadium considering all that Bob Young has done to keep that franchise alive. As for Toronto, there will always be a divide because Bell and Rogers are competing not only for viewers and customers, but also fans for their respective teams. Not exactly a healthy situation. But no way can the league afford to lose a franchise in its largest centre. The optics, visually and especially financially, would be devastating.

Fans attend games now for the experience. If they want the best and cheapest way to see the action, they will stay home and watch on TV. Teams and leagues need to appeal to all ages and make it as affordable as possible to get bums in seats. Once there, maybe they spend a little more on concessions and merchandise from what they saved getting in. Provide a good, entertaining product on and off the playing surface and you might have a chance to succeed.


Anonymous said...

The promotions will continue. Next up...$30 Groupon Tickets.

Buy a Jays hat, get an Argos ticket.

Watch a Leafs game in a local bar, get Argos season tickets.

Tweet about Auston Grey Cup tickets for life!

Anonymous said...

The ownership group in Toronto has deep pockets and they will decide where the team plays. Get real people. The team is struggling and it will take time for the team to get going in its new facility. There are enough CFL fans in Toronto to keep a franchise there.

Bart in Regina

John Knight said...

If the Argos move, TSN will stop televising CFL games and the league will lose all that revenue. Be careful what you wish for. The league will be bailing out the Argos until they get they get management like Jones

Anonymous said...

Holy Batman Robin!!!! Could this be the demise of the CFL as we know it???? Stay tuned folks as someone pulls the plug on the Boatmans fading ship with repercussions felt across the league.

Keith Pottruff said...

They really shouldn't have had a cup game in Toronto this soon at BMO. They should have spent a couple of years working on rebuilding their market first. They buddy's not be in line again for 10 years imo