why is CFL interest so tepid in toronto?

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Sir Purrcival
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I think a large part of it is that there is a fan base but not in what you might consider Toronto. If it is anything like the Vancouver experience, if you live in the burbs, it becomes a logistical issue. Traffic in and around Toronto can be horrible parking expensive and food equally expensive. Not everyone is dialed into things like Metro and many like myself don't really have much tolerance for long traffic jams both ways, expensive parking and all the aggravation that goes with it. It is something that you might be willing to undertake once in awhile as a novelty but over the course of a season, it becomes more like a chore.
Other's have touched on contributing factors including cultural issues and frankly as much as I love the game, it doesn't have much of what I would see as an appeal factor for younger people. They are the ones that typically don't mind putting a lot of effort into making the journey downtown for the excitement factor. It is a pseudo pair bonding exercise, clubs, drinks, opposite gender etc. etc. Problem is that the CFL isn't a jet setter league, it is a lunchbox league. It definitely lacks that impressive factor that people often look for from a nights entertainment. By that I mean we all know that many people often go to events for the prestige factor rather than any particular allegiance to the event itself. People go to see and be seen. Nobody but a true fan generally goes to see the CFL except in the event that someone gives you freebies.


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Hambone
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Murdoch wrote:
Sat May 02, 2020 3:36 pm
I'll take a contrarian view for the sake of the thread and say that there is an excellent fan base in TO. The former mayor was always wearing Argo blue. They until very recently had a longtime dedicated marching band to their credit. More going on then it seems imo.
Ford was a big football fan and had a run coaching high school football from 2001 to 2013 although both gigs ended in controversy. Current Mayor John Tory of course spent 4 years as CFL Commissioner while at the same time being President and CEO of Rogers Media.


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David
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Sir Purrcival wrote:
Sat May 02, 2020 7:15 pm
Other's have touched on contributing factors including cultural issues and frankly as much as I love the game, it doesn't have much of what I would see as an appeal factor for younger people. They are the ones that typically don't mind putting a lot of effort into making the journey downtown for the excitement factor. It is a pseudo pair bonding exercise, clubs, drinks, opposite gender etc. etc. Problem is that the CFL isn't a jet setter league, it is a lunchbox league. It definitely lacks that impressive factor that people often look for from a nights entertainment. By that I mean we all know that many people often go to events for the prestige factor rather than any particular allegiance to the event itself. People go to see and be seen. Nobody but a true fan generally goes to see the CFL except in the event that someone gives you freebies.
I think you're selling the game day experience short and underestimating people's impression of the event. The music is largely geared toward young fans. The league could do itself a big favour by cutting down the length of time it takes to complete a game as many people leave mid-way through the 4th. But I wouldn't say they are not entertained (unless the Lions are putting on a dull performance).

I just wish these fans who attend for the first time would come back and bring their friends.


DH :cool:


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Hambone
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As usual I got curious again. I decided to look at what would best be considered ticket inventory by taking number of regular season home dates by the various major pro teams in Toronto and multiplying by capacity. In the early 70s prior to CNE renovations there 868,000 tickets up for grabs in Toronto between the Leafs 38 home games and Argos 7 home games. By 2007 between the Argos, Leafs, Jays, Raptors and TFC there were just a hair shy of 7.5 million tickets screaming out "Buy me! Buy me!".


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Hambone
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David wrote:
Sat May 02, 2020 9:23 pm
I think you're selling the game day experience short and underestimating people's impression of the event. The music is largely geared toward young fans. The league could do itself a big favour by cutting down the length of time it takes to complete a game as many people leave mid-way through the 4th. But I wouldn't say they are not entertained (unless the Lions are putting on a dull performance).

I just wish these fans who attend for the first time would come back and bring their friends.


DH :cool:
And in fairness the league has been constantly looking at ways to shorten up the games and have had some success. Unfortunately there are three big factors that cause a game to drag out. First is reviews. The more reviews there are the longer the game. They have cut the number of challenges but there are still the booth reviews. Second is injuries which are an unfortunate reality of the game. Get two serious injuries and you can easily add 10+ minutes to a game. Dealing with injuries has become a much different exercise today than it was 30 years ago. Seems the more they know about concussions and other things the more cautious they are in treating the player on the field which of course leads to dragging the game out longer and rightfully so. The third is TV timeouts. They are a necessary evil as they are what allows TSN to pay the bills and pay the CFL. However they have tried to leverage reviews to run some of the commercials which has helped.

Anecdotally I think they have succeeded in cutting game times down. 7 or 8 years ago every game seemed to take 3+ hours from kickoff to final gun. Now unless there is a run on reviews or injuries they seem to over by 5 to the hour, occasionally closer to 10 to the hour. Will we ever get back to 2-1/2 hours? I doubt it but it won't be because the league isn't trying to find more ways every year.


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Murdoch
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Attendance in Winnipeg is down as well.

Maybe less played up due to the community ownership, tax payer funded bottomless pit of money. Announced and actual are often two different things. Some of it on the p.i.t.a. location of the new stadium. Where once there was a solid attending fan base near capacity for most games the stadium now seldom exceeds 75%.

Good comment earlier about the "lunch bucket" mentality of the CFL fan. Finding a marketing mix that caters to that will help imo. Catering to the jet set to show up on a cold prairie day is just folly and wishful thinking.


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Hambone
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Murdoch wrote:
Sun May 03, 2020 10:03 am
Attendance in Winnipeg is down as well.
Attendance was down everywhere last year except in Calgary and Montreal.
CGY +676 average per game
MTL +242
HAM -253
OTT -671
SSK -1334
WPG -1466
TOR -1716
EDM -1766
BCL -2172

Similarly 2018 attendances were down in 7 out of 9 markets with only Toronto +297 and BC +114 registering gains. What saved BC from being in the red was the biggest crowd of the season coming out for Wally's final game. All 9 teams have seen declines over the past 2 seasons ranging from a low of -365 in Calgary to high of -3094 in Edmonton. BC has dropped -2055 since 2017 which puts them just behind Saskatchewan -2039 but ahead of Winnipeg -2267. The four biggest declines since 2017 are out west.

The last high mark for attendance was a league-wide average of 28193 in 2012. It has declined every year since then.
2012 - 28193
2013 - 27005 NOTE: Riders added temp seats for Grey Cup and used them all year to average 37503. Had they sold out every game to their normal capacity of 33427 league-wide average would have been 26495.
2014 - 25284
2015 - 24732
2016 - 24691
2017 - 24644
2018 - 23856
2019 - 22916


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David
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Hambone wrote:
Sun May 03, 2020 11:16 am
All 9 teams have seen declines over the past 2 seasons ranging from a low of -365 in Calgary to high of -3094 in Edmonton.
As a consumer of all CFL games, I can tell you anecdotally that Calgary is among the worst offenders in fudging attendance. Or put it this way, maybe the tickets are paid for, but there are always way more empty seats than what is shown in the box score for attendance.

Hamilton is another offender. Some put it down to people wandering the concourse and hanging out in the "party" areas of Tim Hortons Field. That may account for some, but for many games, seats consistently appear to be at least 25% unoccupied.


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Hambone
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I think it's pretty much standard practice now across the league and for many other teams and leagues to use "tickets sold" for announced attendance figures. I don't know how many games the Canucks continued to declare as sellouts a few years ago to keep their sellout streak going when there was obviously a few thousand empty seats at Rogers Arena.


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cms22
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great comments everyone...... thank you :)

i have lived in 4 CFL cities and visited 2 more many many times on business.

i do agree that there interest in the CFL and the argos is understated by the attendance.

i would say the raptors to some degree were the opposite until the last few years. great attendance and fan forum activity. but TV ratings were never that good (i think NBA local TV ratings and local TV contracts are poor alot of places.)

do people think if the argos could get people to go to one game that they'd come back for more?

this is off-topic but same idea...... i hadn't been to sears canada in probably 25 years. i joined a gym where the best path from parking to the gym was through an SC store. i loved their merchanding. and ended up buying lots of stuff.. they just needed me to come to the store once


cms22
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was cottage country always a big thing in middle to upper class white society in toronto?

it is a huge thing these days........ of course, it's a pretty big thing in winnipeg but so much is different there than toronto


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David wrote:
Sun May 03, 2020 12:44 pm
Hambone wrote:
Sun May 03, 2020 11:16 am
All 9 teams have seen declines over the past 2 seasons ranging from a low of -365 in Calgary to high of -3094 in Edmonton.
As a consumer of all CFL games, I can tell you anecdotally that Calgary is among the worst offenders in fudging attendance. Or put it this way, maybe the tickets are paid for, but there are always way more empty seats than what is shown in the box score for attendance.

Hamilton is another offender. Some put it down to people wandering the concourse and hanging out in the "party" areas of Tim Hortons Field. That may account for some, but for many games, seats consistently appear to be at least 25% unoccupied.


DH :cool:
Calgary should also be considered somewhat of a failure attendance wise, considering how good they have been for 30 years. They have really only had 3 bad seasons since 1990 and have not hosted a playoff game only twice since 2005. The last time they didn't host a playoff game was 2011 and that was the year the top 3 teams in the West all finished at 11-7. It was tie breakers that resulting in BC winning the division with Edmonton coming in second.

With that history of success McMahon should be packed, with actual butts in seats.


Murdoch
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Could also add that Leaf, and now Raptor, tickets can be hard to find which makes them that much more valuable. Knowing there is no urgency to buying Argo tickets (or any CFL team) makes them less important and reduces preplanning for attending games.

If they want the big television revenue they will need to reduce the expense of going to the game. I remember the famous words of Fred Poloski who said 20 nickles are better than 2 dimes. Kind of had to have known Fred.


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Sir Purrcival
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David wrote:
Sat May 02, 2020 9:23 pm
Sir Purrcival wrote:
Sat May 02, 2020 7:15 pm
Other's have touched on contributing factors including cultural issues and frankly as much as I love the game, it doesn't have much of what I would see as an appeal factor for younger people. They are the ones that typically don't mind putting a lot of effort into making the journey downtown for the excitement factor. It is a pseudo pair bonding exercise, clubs, drinks, opposite gender etc. etc. Problem is that the CFL isn't a jet setter league, it is a lunchbox league. It definitely lacks that impressive factor that people often look for from a nights entertainment. By that I mean we all know that many people often go to events for the prestige factor rather than any particular allegiance to the event itself. People go to see and be seen. Nobody but a true fan generally goes to see the CFL except in the event that someone gives you freebies.
I think you're selling the game day experience short and underestimating people's impression of the event. The music is largely geared toward young fans. The league could do itself a big favour by cutting down the length of time it takes to complete a game as many people leave mid-way through the 4th. But I wouldn't say they are not entertained (unless the Lions are putting on a dull performance).

I just wish these fans who attend for the first time would come back and bring their friends.


DH :cool:
Everybody has a different opinion on this and you may be more right than I but your last line kind of undercuts your whole response. If those first time viewers aren't coming back or bringing their friends, you have to ask why? If it had tbe appeal you suggest, I have never seen young people display reticence parting with their $ seeking a good time.
If the impressions of the event were that good, attendance wouldn't be an issue. Nor would it be the ongoing challenge it is to try an attract younger fans.


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ZLions
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Great topic cms22, and great insights shared by everyone. This is something I always wondered as well; why is the CFL so unpopular in Toronto, and what exactly could the league do about it? For years I was told that Toronto's attendance woes were due to them playing in the Rogers Centre, and once they move to BMO field all will be well. That wasn't the case at all though. The Argos attendance at BMO field continues to decline every year. What's worse is that Toronto FC continually draws near-sellout crowds in the same stadium at roughly the same prices.

I had stumbled across this article in 2016, right before the Grey Cup game. Very interesting read, the author argues that the CFL should just stop trying when it comes to TO, and attributes the CFL struggling there to Toronto being different from other Canadian cities. I'll link it down below, you should be able to read for free by signing into Facebook or Google.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/ ... e33053623/

I personally think that the CFL's inability to capture ethnic fans is a big reason. Honestly, I feel that the CFL didn't do enough to appeal to the new multicultural society that has grown up in and around Toronto and Vancouver in the past 30 years. I myself am an ethnic minority who was born to immigrant parents in Surrey; and while I loved the CFL growing up, none of my ethnic friends (or even Caucasian friends for that matter) shared my passion.

The NHL has no problem attracting immigrants due to hockey being a marker of Canadian identity, and neither does the MLS due to soccer being popular back home. When it comes to the NBA there is a "coolness" factor associated with basketball, especially among people in my age group. For the CFL however it is a lot trickier, because football is viewed as something alien.

What the CFL does have going for them however is that their athletes are great human beings who connect to people in their communities. From my experience, I find CFL players to be a lot more humble, approachable, and down to earth compared to athletes of other sports. This could, and should, be a key selling point for the CFL.
Last edited by ZLions on Thu May 07, 2020 1:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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