Organizers struggling to sell tickets on eve of Grey Cup in Vancouver
Published Saturday, November 29, 2014 6:19PM EST
Last Updated Saturday, November 29, 2014 10:50PM EST
“Great seats still available” has become the unofficial slogan of the 102nd Grey Cup in Vancouver, where organizers are struggling to drum up fan interest ahead of the CFL championship on Sunday.
Canadian Football League promoters are still trying to fill the 54,300-seat B.C. Place stadium for Sunday’s game between the Calgary Stampeders and Hamilton Tiger-Cats. They’ve slashed prices, handed out free tickets to volunteers and staged a number of giveaways simply to get bums in seats for the Sunday championship game.
But with more than a thousand tickets still available by Saturday evening, rock-bottom prices may not be enough to fill the house at B.C. Place.
Low regional interest and the absence of a home team in the game have been blamed for the Grey Cup’s attendance woes this year.
Some have also said the Grey Cup game returned to Vancouver too soon. The city last hosted the event in 2011 and sold out tickets in July, well before anyone knew the hometown Lions would be in the game.
But this year has been a different story, with organizers offering deep discounts on tickets at nearly all price ranges. Some seats were being sold at more than 70 per cent off the box-office price. The cheapest seats in the stadium were on sale for $49 on Saturday, down from the original price of $145. The most expensive ticket at B.C. Place -- a $995 club sideline seat -- was on sale for just $639.
One Twitter promotion promised free tickets to the last person to retweet the message. Only four people had retweeted it by Saturday evening.
Ticket prices aren’t the only numbers falling in the CFL these days. Attendance numbers and television ratings are down across the league. The CFL’s fanbase is also getting older, with an average age of 54.
A recent poll found that only one in four Canadians were determined to watch Sunday’s Grey Cup game, with the strongest support for the game coming from those 55 or older.
The poll also found that CFL interest is strongest in Western Canada, particularly in Saskatchewan, where the Roughriders are more popular than even the NHL.
Last year’s Grey Cup at Mosaic Stadium in Saskatchewan sold out in July, well before the CFL season had even begun, and long before the two teams playing in the game were determined. The hometown Saskatchewan Roughriders defeated the Tiger-Cats in that game.
Montreal’s massive Olympic Stadium has traditionally been the most well-attended site for Grey Cup games, with three of the last four championships held there eclipsing the 63,000 attendance mark.
CFL superfans Brent Duthie and his wife say they’ve been to every Grey Cup game since 2003, and they have fond memories of the 2011 championship game in Vancouver.
“Vancouver is absolutely one of the best hosts we’ve seen,” he told CTV News at the Grey Cup parade Saturday.
The 2015 Grey Cup will be held at Investors Group Field, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers’ home stadium.