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elly63 May 26, 2019 4:18 PM

The Argos are playing a preseason game for school kids and that’s pretty cool
John Hodge 3downnation May 26, 2019

A quick look at the CFL preseason schedule reveals an interesting quirk in southern Ontario.

The Alouettes and Argonauts are slated to play on Thursday, May 30 in Toronto. That’s not the weird part.

What’s odd is that the game is scheduled to kickoff at 11:00 AM ET.

That’s strange. And it gets weirder.

The Argos don’t appear to be selling tickets to the game on their website. The club’s schedule includes an icon for tickets sales but it merely redirects to the ticket page that makes no mention of a preseason game.

The game does not appear on BMO Field’s website, either. You can access the game on Ticketmaster but there don’t appear to be any tickets for sale.

“Oh no! These tickets went fast and we’re unable to find more right now,” says a banner on the webpage.

What’s strange is that the venue map doesn’t resemble BMO’s regular season seating configuration. It’s… odd.

A google search led me to a press release from early last month — one I clearly missed — that explains why the circumstances surrounding Toronto’s preseason game are so abnormal.

The Alouettes and Argonauts are playing a game at Varsity Stadium for a group of school kids. And that’s pretty awesome.

Varsity Stadium is a fantastic venue, located downtown on campus at the University of Toronto. It houses approximately 5,000 seats, most of which should be filled with school-age children when the Argos kickoff their preseason.

The game isn’t pure charity — the tickets aren’t being given away, but sold at $20.00 apiece — and some are being held back for season ticket holders.

Even so, this is a cool initiative for a team that desperately needs to entice new, young fans. The Argos’ most recent preseason game at BMO Field drew just 5,532 fans and there’s little reason to believe this year’s contest would have drawn more. Why not try something new?

This is a neat initiative that may play a small role in increasing Toronto’s ticket sales in the long-term. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

craneSpotter May 26, 2019 5:00 PM

With the success of the Raptors (sure to set new Canadian viewership records in the finals), I think the time is ripe for the NBA to return to Vancouver.

Have not followed the NBA that closely until this year (kids are huge BB fans now), so not sure how the league works all that much - but from what I read is that expansion is possible (or relocation..?). I'm sure Seattle would get a team back before YVR, but the NBA is one of the 3 most popular pro leagues in NA to watch - so I do think they will (need) take advantage sooner or later with an expansion.

blueandgoldguy May 26, 2019 9:16 PM

If Vancouver want an NBA team it will presumably be an expansion team. The price will probably start at $1 billion US. Who would be the prospective owners?

suburbanite May 26, 2019 11:08 PM


Originally Posted by blueandgoldguy (Post 8585117)
If Vancouver want an NBA team it will presumably be an expansion team. The price will probably start at $1 billion US. Who would be the prospective owners?

Rogers and Bell of course.

Djeffery May 27, 2019 1:03 AM


Originally Posted by suburbanite (Post 8585173)
Rogers and Bell of course.

They already own a team, not allowed to own another. You'd need one to buy out the other of the Raptors and good luck getting them to figure out who stays and who goes. And Bell's first priority for a new team will be getting behind the Expos hoped for rebirth in Montreal (nothing has obviously been said officially on that, but Bell isn't stupid, they've seen what Rogers owning the Jays has done for their various platforms).

craneSpotter May 27, 2019 2:29 AM


Originally Posted by blueandgoldguy (Post 8585117)
If Vancouver want an NBA team it will presumably be an expansion team. The price will probably start at $1 billion US. Who would be the prospective owners?

Well, I guess the obvious answer would be the Aquilini family - they already have the arena. They could bury the hatchet (over the Canucks purchase) and partner with the Gaglardi family (owners of the Dallas Stars).

Maybe Chip Wilson could get involved, too. He could pony up a billion on his own I'm sure - but he would also need to build a new arena.

I don't think Pattison, or the Lalji or Louie families would be interested.

elly63 May 27, 2019 5:37 AM

Marketing the Argos

Here are a few posts from the Argos Mike Hogan hinting as to what is going on behind the scenes

If your definition of marketing is putting an ad in the paper or an ad on the radio, that's not the best bang for the buck anymore. The targeting of specific groups, school kids and young athletes, is something that needed to happen in this market and is long overdue. The connection to the Toronto Flag Football League is targeting young athletes who already have an interest in the sport, now we have to get them interested in our brand, team and league. The same goes for the pre-season game, it's an effort to get kids exposed to the Argos at an impressionable age...the same as many of us were. It's the same with our effort to get free footballs into the hands of kids. The more they play, the more inclined they'll be to become fans of the sport.

I think the people on the social media side have done a great job of keeping fans informed and entertained over the off season. I feel our content has kept fans informed of what's being done on the Xs and Os side, more so than in other off seasons.

The goal is to get people to become long-time fans. Without getting into specifics, our research shows if we can get people to a game, there's a good chance they'll come back. If we can get them to come out 3-4 times the odds are really good that they'll keep coming back on a regular basis.

The goal is to make going to an Argo game the best sporting event in the city for fans (I think it is now, but the goal is to make it even better). Be patient, I think you'll like what we have in store for this year.

This is the first full off-season for us to do a plan for a season. I've seen what's gone on behind the scenes and it's impressive. If you think MLSE is in this for the short term, you're wrong. The goal is to make this team a success on and off the field year after year after year.

What our ticketing department did last year with a 4-14 team and essentially three months lead-up to the season was astonishing. After Labour Day there was no walkup crowd, based mostly on the team's record, but overall the paid attendance still went up. There are some incredibly hard-working people with some great ideas busting their rear ends to make this team a success at the gate. Let them work their magic.

I love your passion and your desire to see more splash, but this is not a short-term turnaround in the market, and everyone I work with is aware of that. I hope you continue to work with us, not against us, to make that happen.


We'll obviously pump things up when the season starts. James Wilder Jr, for example, is throwing out the first pitch at the Jays game tomorrow.

Ticketing is targeting new Canadians in terms of group sales. Football can be a difficult sport for newcomers to understand, not just new Canadians, but people unfamiliar with the sport. The goal is to start making a dent with different groups within the GTA's fantastic ethnic gumbo. There's no more "Canadian" event than the Grey Cup, something we're stressing to those groups. Other events are planned as well, again, I'm not going to jump any announcements here.

So...long answer short, we're trying to get a toehold this year so the interest in those communities grows going forward.

As for the interplay with our other properties, the Leafs, Raps etc, the plan is to better cross-promote franchises. That's something that has definitely been talked about and I can guarantee you it's going to improve over time.

It was under the radar, but Derel Walker was flown to Toronto the opening night of free agency. He spent the next night at a Raptors game in a private box with Wilder, Lemon, Edwards, Darby and the personnel guys. The money was significant, but that event helped put him over the top. He cancelled two other planned visits the next day and agreed to the Argos terms. That MLSE connection with the Raps may have sealed the deal.

Much of the stuff being done is directly with a targeted group and wouldn't be visible to the masses. We'll get a lot more visible closer to the season. We just had a meeting to go over what's planned for written content for and some of the social media content...I'm going to be a busy boy this season and am energized by that.

I hope you trust me...I'm not BSing you at all. Things will be announced in the days and weeks ahead. I hope you can lure some of your pals back to BMO Field so they can experience some of the improvements. I can honestly say this is a great time to be an Argos fan.

Pull Together

JHikka May 28, 2019 12:53 AM

Raptors & Bucks, Game 6 = 3.1M combined average viewers on Sportsnet & Sportsnet One. Nearly half of the viewers were on Sportsnet Ontario.

Audience peaked at 5.3M during the end of the game.

Three Raptors game from the Bucks series averaged 2.1M on Sportsnet, a 77% increase over the Conference Final against the Cavaliers in 2016.


Canada/Czechs on Saturday had 442K on TSN.
Jays/Padres on Saturday had 256K on SN.

Maldive May 28, 2019 8:42 PM

Vancouver trying set up "Jurrasic Park West" by Thursday. Realize no ssp forum folk will be there ;-) but I guess there's some fans in the area.

I know, I know... just a marketing ploy to get the city Grizzlies redux.

esquire May 28, 2019 8:48 PM

That is cringeworthy... watching it in a sports bar or whatever is one thing, but Jurassic Park West... yikes.

Hackslack May 28, 2019 9:05 PM

While ratings are soaring in Canada for the Raptors, I’m interested to see how they fair in the US. I’d be inclined to think they would be some of the worst just due to the fact a foreign team is playing and yet another Warriors final... Or maybe they will still be decent due the fact Leonard has been playing so well. Anyone have access to ratings from the US for game 6 of the conference finals?

JHikka May 28, 2019 9:22 PM


Originally Posted by Hackslack (Post 8587295)
While ratings are soaring in Canada for the Raptors, I’m interested to see how they fair in the US. I’d be inclined to think they would be some of the worst just due to the fact a foreign team is playing and yet another Warriors final... Or maybe they will still be decent due the fact Leonard has been playing so well. Anyone have access to ratings from the US for game 6 of the conference finals?



Originally Posted by SportsMediaWatch
Thursday’s Raptors-Bucks NBA Eastern Conference Finals Game 5 earned 6.23 million viewers on TNT, down 17% from Cavaliers-Celtics on ESPN last year (7.51M), but up 7% from Cavaliers-Celtics on TNT in 2017, a series-clincher that was decided by 33 points (5.83M). Ratings were not immediately available.

Versus last year’s conference final Game 5 on TNT, Warriors-Rockets, viewership fell a third from 9.32 million. Versus the previous conference final Game 5 to involve Toronto — which does not count toward U.S. television ratings — viewership increased 14% from the Raptors’ 38-point loss to Cleveland in 2016 (5.38M).

Three of the five Raptors-Bucks games have outdrawn the comparable games of Cavaliers-Raptors in 2016. Though that series involved LeBron James, it was also the least-watched East Final since 2004.

Toronto’s win not only avoided a multi-year low — the first game in the series to do so — it neared a multi-year high. Outside of last year, no ECF Game 5 has had a larger audience since 2014 (Heat-Pacers: 7.31M). Keep in mind that is a span of just four games.

Going back further, the historical comparison is less flattering. It ranks as the third-least watched conference final Game 5 since 2007, ahead of only Raptors-Cavaliers in ’16 and Cavaliers-Celtics in ’17.

It's not doing too badly considering one of the team's local markets doesn't factor in to the national figures.

A good resource:

Hackslack May 28, 2019 10:26 PM

Are the Toronto Raptors like a “college sports team” as Drake eludes to? Why would Drake elude to the Toronto Raptors as a “college sports team”? I don’t quite understand his statement. Is it because of the excitement of the city for its pro trean making it to the finals? “College sports team” is not how anyone would have described the excitement of Calgary during the Flames cup run in 2004, which was completely indescribable. I’m wondering what sets Toronto apart for Drake to label Toronto as a “college sports team”?... maybe just too many beers?

megadude May 28, 2019 11:54 PM

Good question. Kind of an odd comparison, but I'll throw this out there. Jurassic Park, which is where he was when making that statement, is akin to ESPN College Gameday for football and basketball, both of which I attended at Michigan State. Fun times. Don't know of any other NBA city that has a Jurassic Park of their own.,5x&version=1
Crédit : USA TODAY Sports

megadude May 29, 2019 12:01 AM
(Credit: Peter Armstrong)

Acajack May 31, 2019 3:43 AM

Apparently ratings for Raptors games on RDS have been running in the 250-300,000 range since and including the night with The Shot.

Highest they've ever been I am sure.

JHikka Jun 1, 2019 7:17 PM

Another @Raptors win, another broadcast record!

Last night's Game 1 of the #NBAFinals on @Sportsnet reached 7.4M Canadians and captured an average audience of 3.3M viewers, making it the most-watched #NBA game ever in Canada


osmo Jun 2, 2019 3:29 AM

RE: Raptors Game 1.

Wow 7.4m is a big time number. I was guessing 5-6M for viewers, I am very surprised.

JHikka Jun 4, 2019 12:21 PM

TSN numbers for Raptors/Warriors Game 2:
  • 4.3M average audience between TSN/CTV2/RDS (3.2M on TSN)
  • 10M+ unique viewers
  • Audience peaked at 6M near end of game
  • In Toronto, the game had a share of 68% on TSN and CTV2, meaning that more than two thirds of all people watching television in Toronto on Sunday night were tuned in to the game.
  • Additionally, TSN’s live streaming coverage of Game 2 attracted nearly 100,000 video starts across the network’s digital platforms, including and the TSN app.

Most watched sporting event in Canada in the past year after the Super Bowl.

suburbanite Jun 4, 2019 12:30 PM

Every game is breaking records so far but I wouldn't be surprised to see a dip tomorrow. Mid-week game coming off a loss where a lot of casual viewers might think the Raps now get reverse-swept after pulling off the initial upset.

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