Toronto – The Big Stroke

That new franchise smell wafting over from Ottawa is starting to fade away and people are realizing there’s a strong stench in the Canadian Football League.  One Redditor put it thus:

I was a rabid Expos fan. I do hope you don’t have to live through what I did. Right now, you’re right before the “splitting games with San Juan” stage of decline.


There’s a rumour Toronto has sold only 3500 season ticket this year and it shows.  TO had 17,758 for their home opener (30k+ in 2013) and then 16,102 for the game in Week 3 vs the Stamps.

Circa 2005

July 12, 2014.  The two lower levels hold about 30K. Does that look like 16,102 to you?

The Toronto Sun says no more than 7000 were there — looks that way to me!

Nine years ago:

Circa 2005. Credit: JoshDimmock (Reddit)

Circa 2005. Notice that between then and now the 500 level has been closed off to fans.  Looks like people were probably having fun there.  Credit: JoshDimmock (Reddit)

I guess no one leaves their new condos nowadays…

So what’s going on inToronto?!?!

Are they lacking storied history?

Founded: October 4, 1873 (141 years ago!)

Also the day science was committed.

Also the day some science happened.

Newp!  They are one of the oldest pro sports franchises in the North America and have won 16 Grey Cups, the most in the CFL.

Could it be a population problem?

Metro Population: 5,583,064 people

More than 5 times the population of Saskatchewan, though to be fair who knows how many people moved out of Saskatchewan and settled in TO…

Did they stink last season?

Record Last Season (2013): 11-7, first in the East, lost to Hamilton in divison final

Everyone favourite mayor.

Because he jinxed it!

Oh and they took it all in 2012, wining the 100th Grey Cup.  Which was kind of a big deal.  So big in fact there was a conspiracy theory saying the league orchestrated the Ricky Ray trade.

Speaking of QB…

Quarterback: Ricky Ray

Holy Shit! Look at that mop!

Holy Shit! Look at that mop! I guess when the zits left they took the hair with them.

His Records:

Highest completion percentage in a single season (77.2)
Most pass completions in a single season (479)
Highest completion percentage in a single game (95.0)
Highest passer rating in a single season (126.4)

Who own the team?

Haha!  Yup I think Denis Lemieux (Yvon Barrette) sums up the TO attitude best:

I’m tired of it! Puke! Blah! All the time, puke!

Owner: David Braley

Hall of Fame

“Now that I’m in the Hall of Fame, fuck ’em.” – David Braley

Can we really lay it at this man’s feet?  He bought the team because no one else would.  He’s taken a soapy bath as owner and now is trying to sell it off to MLSE for enough to make back his losses, which on the face of it seems totally fair.  Except MLSE ain’t in the business of being fair, they’re in the business of making money, and the longer Dave holds on to the Argos it appears the cheaper they will become.

My very unscientific poll of fans, both in Toronto and across the country reveals the following four theories:

No Advertising:

Smoking still allowed.

Maybe it’s because smoking’s still allowed at games?

It doesn’t look like Braley wants to spend a nickel more than he has to.  That means making payroll and paying the rent… that’s about it.  Zero advertising (at least from I or anyone else I’ve spoken to can tell).  Seems he thinks the sale is imminent.

Negative Media Coverage:

In the Toronto sports media scene you either work for Bell or you work for Rogers.  Both have a 37.5% stake in MLSE which doesn’t yet own the Argos (see above).  Certainly the bosses don’t want to promote an asset they don’t own but is it a stretch to imagine they might also be trying to drive the price down?

Our evil plan to rid Canada of competition of the Roughriders is almost complete

“Do we own the Argonauts?”
“Then fuck ’em.”

Transit and Traffic:

According to every study ever done Toronto has some of the worst traffic in North America.  It has been made worse this year by lane closures on the Gardiner Expressway (main artery in/out of the city from the West).  Forget about taking public transit unless you live in Toronto proper.  The Jays averaged 31,315 last year and this year it’s dropped to 27,168.  4147 (13%) are saying “fuck it” rather than get in the car.  This despite the fact the Jays were first in the ALE for 30+ days.

7:20pm on a Thursday night.

7:20pm on a Thursday night.


From Wikipedia:

The main impetus for building an enclosed sports venue came following the Grey Cup game in November 1982, held at the outdoor Exhibition Stadium. The game was played in a driving rainstorm that left most of the crowd drenched, leading the media to call it “the Rain Bowl”. As many of the seats were completely exposed to the elements, thousands watched the game from the concession section. To make a bad experience even worse, the washrooms overflowed. In attendance that day was then-Ontario Premier Bill Davis, and the poor conditions were seen by the largest TV audience ever in Canada (over 7,862,000 viewers) to that point. The following day, at a rally at Toronto City Hall, tens of thousands of people who were there to see the Toronto Argonauts began to chant, “We want a dome! We want a dome!”


Above: Exhibition Stadium
Wost POS ever – Toronto


Above: BMO Field
Best POS ever – Toronto

If there’s one thing you can count on it’s a Torontonian not being happy with with what they have.

SkyDome is one of the best stadiums in the country, they only problem is that it isn’t filled every game.  NFLers complain about it being terrible for football but that’s because it was built for the CFL.  The concessions actually offer a wide variety of food compared to other Canadian venues and the concourse is wide enough that you don’t get elbowed walking to get it.

I do concede that BMO would be a better spot for the team because of the intimacy and atmosphere it will encourage.  It did wonders for Montreal but they also did a good job of turning it into a party, at least for the first few years (they’ve only drawn 20k their first two games this year).

For comparison’s sake, I haven’t heard any complaints about the atmosphere at Commonwealth stadium.  It is never at capacity because it’s also huge but Edmonton seems to love it.  I’ll say this about it though, if you wanted to take a piss there during the 98th Grey Cup you did it in your pants…

What do you think?  Leave it in the comments below.

Ugh.  I’m out of beer.  Log in next week.  Same Bastard blog, same bastard time.

2 thoughts on “Toronto – The Big Stroke

  1. Sky Dome only felt like a football facility for me during Grey Cups. It’s not good for football otherwise.

    The pictorial comparison of Exhibition and BMO is amazing (showing how bad BMO is). How MLSE fleeced several governments to give them a stadium for the Toronto SC (Soccer Club) and specifically exclude Canadian football ought to be taught as a case study in business schools forever.

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