Thursday 1 September 2011

What Shall Come in 2013?

With all the stadium news coming fast and furious over the last couple of days – from ditching the renovations to do a complete rebuild to Bob Young's "Caretaker's Commitment" – now is as good a time as any to look at what is perhaps the last great question still outstanding when it comes to everything surrounding the new home of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats:

Where will they call home in 2013?

As everyone is well aware, the Tiger-Cats will be looking for a place to play in 2013 as Ivor Wynne Stadium is demolished and rebuilt for the 2015 PanAm Games.

There are a number of prospective places for the Cats to play. Some are close by; some are not. Some are logical; some are not. One way or another, the Ti-Cats are going to have to play somewhere in 2013, and these are some of the places that I think are likely to be under consideration.

All But Guaranteed

Rogers Centre SkyDome (Downtown Toronto)

At the bare minimum, I see the Labour Day Classic being played in Toronto. It makes perfect sense to host it there, as it will allow Tiger-Cat fans a chance to go, and it is quite possible that with Argo fans in tow, the Classic could get its biggest audience ever. Just imagine if the Rogers Centre SkyDome had 40,000 screaming fans. What an atmosphere.

We could also see back-to-back preseason games played in Toronto. The Cats normally play the Argos in the preseason, and it could be as simple as playing both preseason games there, with one of them counting as Hamilton's home game.

Moncton Stadium (Université de Moncton)

As likely as it is, in my opinion, that the Labour Day Classic will take place in Toronto, it is equally likely that the Ti-Cats will play at least one game, if not two games, in Moncton. The stadium is already there, it has hosted CFL regular season games before – including the Tiger-Cats this season – and it is likely to play host to one in 2012. A return in 2013 is highly likely, and I don't see why it won't be Hamilton who hosts another game out there.

If the team is going to be a traveling road show in 2013, it might as well travel to a place where the league is already traveling. Playing games in Moncton has been deemed a priority for the league, so maybe playing two games there in one season could help to gauge the level of interest in football out east. It is easy to sell a single game once a year; it is harder to sell multiple tickets to multiple games in a single season. If that region is ever going to get a CFL franchise, then the people of the area need to prove that they are willing to shell out money for more than one game per season. I say play two games in Moncton, one in early August and another in October (perhaps during Thanksgiving weekend).

The recent news that Moncton officials are going to try to persuade the Cats to play four games in Moncton in 2013 seems a bit ambitious. The city has never hosted more than one game, so jumping to four might be a stretch. That said, it would be a great way to gauge interest in the CFL in Atlantic Canada.


Ron Joyce Stadium (McMaster University)

The most convenient option for Ti-Cat fans would be to play at Ron Joyce Stadium on the campus of McMaster University. The reason that this one isn't a no-brainer like those listed above is due to one factor:


Ron Joyce Stadium currently seats 6,000 or so fans, with the ability to double the capacity to 12,000. McMaster Athletic Director Jeff Giles said he thinks 15,000 seats is possible.

That number is still significantly smaller than what the Cats normally attract, so financially it would be problematic.

If they do decide to play one or more games at McMaster, they should be held in July and August when there are far fewer students on campus. I can see the team taking the hit because this entire season will likely come at a financial price to the team, so hosting one or more games at McMaster would be a nice way to placate fans who won't be able to attend games elsewhere.

TD Waterhouse Stadium (University of Western Ontario)

The Tiger-Cats have tried to go about attracting fans outside of the Hamilton city limits, and a great way to do that would be to play games in areas not serviced by a CFL franchise. London would be one of those areas.

The University of Western Ontario has a wonderful facility in TD Waterhouse Stadium. The stadium can be expanded from its natural seating capacity of 8,000 to as high as 16,000.

Once again the issue is the number of seats, but if the Cats are willing to take the hit to play at McMaster, they could gain a multitude of new fans if they play some games at Western.

Long Shot

Alumni Stadium (University of Guelph)

The only reason I am considering Guelph is that Guelph has already considered itself. This would be great for Hamilton fans, since traveling to Guelph is hardly taxing, but even to a larger degree than Ron Joyce Stadium and TD Waterhouse Stadium, the seating capacity would be a major issue.

As it is currently constituted, Alumni Stadium on the campus of the University of Guelph holds 4,100 people. I have no idea what the expansion capabilities are (if anyone does, please, pipe in), but for it to work, it would have to at least be expandable by nearly quadruple its current capacity.


The Rogers Centre SkyDome and Moncton Stadium are near locks to host Hamilton Tiger-Cat games in 2013. I would be floored if either one were not a part of the 2013 plan.

The issue with both McMaster and Western is seating capacity. With that problem comes the additional problem of price. If the team is going to lose over 10,000 potential ticket buyers, the price for seats will probably have to increase. Could the Cats get away with charging higher prices for seats to games played in these smaller facilities? Would Tiger-Cat fans be willing to pay that premium to see games closer to home? These are questions that I do not have the answers to, but that need to be addressed.

As far as Guelph is concerned, even the editorial I cited states that it is a long shot for them to get the opportunity to host any games.

The way I see it, have the Cats play three games in Toronto (two regular season, one preseason), two in Moncton, three at McMaster and two in London. There are your 10 "home" games for the 2013 season. If you wanted to throw Guelph a bone, let them have the preseason game.

Is this the perfect solution? No, but nothing about the 2013 will appease everyone. Compromise will be the name of the game in 2013, and by having the Cats play their home dates in the manner I have laid out, there should be something for everyone.


  1. See my comment under Caretaker's Commitment :-)
    (not sure what happened there - can it be moved up to its proper place?)

  2. I have to disagree about the Dome. I don't think that it will be a slam dunk that you think it will be.

    Look at how bad the Argos schedule is. Their first 3 games on the road. First home game July 22?

    After October 1, you can schedule all you want as they Jays won't make the playoffs. But if you are the Argos, you won't draw any fans as they will be out of the playoffs. It's just like the Bills playing 4 home games after American Thanksgiving.

    If the Cats are going to play 2 or 3 reg season games at the Dome, you are looking after Oct 1.

    Rogers won't let the Argos or Cats have free roam of the Dome.

    The Argos should have gotten in on BMO and I wouldn't be suprised if Braley puts up the 20 mil to expand BMO to CFL standards.