For the rest of time, the Grey Cup game should only be played in either Edmonton, Calgary, Regina or Winnipeg. Based on the way Edmonton just sold out the 2010 game – before the current CFL season has even started – it’s a no-brainer. Those four cities are the heart and soul of Canadian football. They deserve Canada’s championship game – every single year. And the Grey Cup should never, ever again be played in Toronto.
1958 is regarded as the first season of the current Canadian Football League. It wasn’t until 1975 that the CFL first held the Grey Cup game at Calgary’s McMahon Stadium. Prior to that, it was held in only Canada’s major cities. Edmonton didn’t play host until 1984. The point is that it took the CFL many, many years to figure out that the game could be successful outside the three most populated cities in our country (with the exception of Ottawa).
It wasn’t until 1991 that the CFL determined that holding the game regularly on the prairies might be a smart thing to do. Interestingly, that first game at Winnipeg Stadium featured freezing temperatures, Adam Rita’s Toronto Argonauts walking (not running) out during introductions and Rocket Ismail winning the game’s MVP award. And that’s the beauty of holding the game on the prairies. The fans appreciate it like no others in the country.
Canadian prairie football fans are the best in the country. That’s how they sell out 60,000 Grey Cup tickets in just seven days. The last time the game was held in Toronto was 2007. The only way, and I mean the only way, you knew the game was in Toronto is if you stumbled upon a few celebrations down on Front Street or right outside Rogers Centre. The fans inside the building enjoyed the 23-19 Saskatchewan victory over Winnipeg, but the city itself couldn’t have cared less if it was the Grey Cup or the athletic cup. And most of the fans inside Rogers Centre that day made the trip from either Saskatchewan or Winnipeg. In fact, Toronto is so blasé about Canadian Football that, this year, the Argos are even playing one of their home games in Fredericton, New Brunswick. And no one cares! Toronto should never host the Grey Cup again.
And games indoors should be forbidden. That means Toronto and – sorry, Montreal – are out. I want my Grey Cup game to have an aura of unpredictability. That means weather is a component. I realize that B.C. Place Stadium is having a retractable roof installed right now. But, if it’s raining on Grey Cup Sunday in 2011, they will have it closed. As the Soup Nazi would say, “No Grey Cup for you, B.C.!”
And Hamilton is, well, Hamilton. I don’t think we need to say any more about that. Besides, the CFL has been smart enough not to bring it back to Steeltown since 1996. So that leaves the prairies. They support their Stampeders, Eskies, Roughriders and Bombers win or lose. They live and breathe football twelve months of the year. Those are the cities that deserve the CFL’s biggest showcase. Those cities are the league. And that’s where the Grey Cup must be played. Period.