Two more Sundays of 3-down football, and one of the storylines in the dear old Canadian Football League this year has to be empty seats. Less than 27,000 were on hand at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton last Sunday as the Eskimos ended Saskatchewan’s dream of repeating as Grey Cup champions. That’s less than half the capacity of the place, and it sure looked empty on my flatscreen.
There were also lots of empty seats in Montreal where the Alouettes used to sell out Molson Stadium all the time. The only CFL city where the ballpark was virtually sold out for every game this year was Ottawa, home the expansion REDBLACKS. You have to wonder how long that will continue if they don’t win more than two games next season.
A large part of the problem is the fact that TV blackouts just don’t happen any more. I recently wrote about growing up during the Bud Grant era in Winnipeg. In those bygone days, more than half a century ago, we were lucky to see our team on TV when they played on the road. A TV broadcast of a home game was never allowed, even if every seat was sold. Blue Bomber games were carried on two local radio stations, and you could hear the play-by-play blaring all over town.
TV technology has now advanced to the point that it’s almost impossible to do a blackout, but the powers that be should try to figure out a way to get it done. The worst situation is in Toronto, Canada’s largest city. The Argos put a good competitive team on the field most of the time, but nobody seems to care. Average attendance at Rogers Centre, which can hold more than 50,000 for football, is barely 17,000.
Makes you wonder why we’re spending all these millions of dollars for new and improved stadiums, when all they are becoming is oversized television studios.
I’m Roger Currie