I attended the Argos’ first regular season game at new BMO field on June 23rd, 2016 and here’s my rant.
The Shipyard (A for effort, C+ for execution)
This was the official (non-tailgate) pre-game party It was virtually impossible to purchase beer from the bartenders whom ostensibly couldn’t handle making change. Even more difficult was purchasing food from the 50+ person line. Unless…
One great idea worth mentioning was the setup of traditional tailgate games (lots of bean bag toss) spread throughout the grounds, though there was hardly any room to play or walk between them. This place was jammed and I’m sure that’s the last thing anyone expected at an Argos game!
I can’t comment on it directly because I didn’t drive there. However, the rules say you need to purchase a “pass” in advance (limited number) for one of the two designated lots. Upon arrival you’ll be searched for contraband and be forced to purchase beer from the Argonauts directly. No word on whether Kathleen Wynne has appointed a Minister in Charge of Tailgating to manage this bureaucratic mess or when she’ll allow the sale of cider or wine in parking lots.
Beer Pricing (B)
A lot of advertising was done concerning $4 cans at the pre-game parties which seemed too good to be true. It was, turns out $4 is what you pay for a baby can of Bud Light, otherwise it’s $7 for a tall boy. I do give them extra points for the sale of buckets of beer. Five piss lights for $20 or three tall boys of anything else Labatt for $21 in a bucket filled with ice! $16 for the plastic draft above inside BMO.
Looks 90% like old Winnipeg Stadium, the only difference being everything is red instead of blue and gold. They built the upper decks new for this season and promptly buggered up bathroom allotment in the process (just like Hamilton!). No line for the women’s but you were waiting a solid fifteen minutes for the men’s. That’s the difference between having a great night and pretending some Rider fan spilled beer in your lap.
Food @ BMO (D)
Terrible. Hot dogs, burgers, pulled pork or two food trucks (the only saving grace).
Best game day atmosphere in Toronto since the 100th Grey Cup. There’s a long way to go because there was a huge block of empty (corporate?) seats at center field in the upper deck. Still, you could see how the place might conceivably sell out and get rowdy on a nice weekend afternoon.
It’s better than SkyDome (so far, in the summer) no doubt about that. We’ll see after the weather turns and the leaves drop but it’s a palpable improvement over the game day experience CFL fans in Toronto had previously.
Is it Winnipeg? No.
Is it Saskatchewan? No.
Is it Hamilton? No, but pretty close and I didn’t see anyone getting the bum’s rush which is more than I can say about football at their previous venue.
Lost in the revelry over BMO Field’s reopening is the irony of the whole situation. Tens of thousands of CFL fans whom attended “the Rain Bowl” Grey Cup in 1982 converged at City Hall the following day and began chanting “We want a dome!” 24 years later the fans, like children tired of an old toy, have returned to the exact same location (albeit different stadium), having rejected SkyDome. The 104th Grey Cup, to be played on November 27th, at the same site as “the Rain Bowl” has a historical average daytime high of 4.9C with a 33% chance of rain.
Still better than Regina.
All weather aside, there is smoother sailing ahead for Jason and the Argonauts and as they say, what’s good for Toronto is good for league.