Argos, CFL Only Have to Overcome Stigma

Published on August 16, 2008 2:05 PM by dbo.

Thursday’s Buffalo Bills game at Toronto’s Rogers Centre did not provide the wave of NFL support expected to smother the CFL. Instead, what was just another exhibition football game was perhaps over-hyped by the media (although Rogers Sportsnet was the only guilty broadcast outlet I saw).

This first game has shown that a lot of the claims from both sides of the issue are not exactly true.

  • In its eighth appearance in Toronto, the city has not proven itself to be NFL mad for this game or in the past.
  • The NFL experience in Toronto will never match their counterparts in US cities. Even if tailgate party rules can be relaxed in the urban Rogers Centre environment, Canadian fans will remain seated and will cheer only when they have reason to do so (their team is doing well) rather than standing and cheering throughout the whole game, the American standard.
  • Argo players, understandably, reject the NFL’s excursion into their turf.
  • With a last minute push to fill the stadium, many tickets were given away or sold at 10% or less of their face price. Announced attendance was not a sell out, and media estimated 15,000 tickets were given away, putting actual paid attendance around 33,000. An overestimation of the desire of working people to pay high prices to help a billionaire who made his money on the backs of the Canadian public undermine a Canadian institution may have hurt ticket sales as noted in the first comment on this story.
  • The CFL‘s popularity continues to rise, with television ratings increasing almost 20% over the same period last year.

These results should only buoy the confidence of the CFL, the Argos and fans. The strength of the NFL in southern Ontario does not seem to be as strong and it is possible the teams could co-exist with some fair play by any NFL franchise owners. The chances of Toronto even landing a franchise still looks slim as this first game has exposed more blemishes on the plan for Rogers Centre to be an NFL team’s home and the amount of support available for a franchise. Foreseeing past the 5-years of the Bills’ series in Toronto is impossible, and it appears these games will not have a dramatic affect on the CFL in southern Ontario.

Coupled with the a stable and growing CFL, the Argos and CFL should focus on shaking the stigma of the league left over from the 1980’s and ‘90’s. Instead of anti-NFL protests because the CFL can’t compete, how about standing up as citizens and saying we don’t want their league in Canada? Why not focus on the taxpayers cost and the economic factor of a billionaire acquiring another monopoly? With the CFL now returning to pre-NFL on cable levels of support, we need to communicate its strength and popularity. There will always be NFL-only fans in Canada, but they are a small group, not 80% of the population as they would like you to believe.

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Argos, CFL Only Have to Overcome Stigma was published on August 16, 2008 2:05 PM by dbo.

578 words.

This article is categorized under Finances and tagged with growth, nfl, toronto-argonauts and tv-ratings.