CFL, Argos exploring how to fix end zone turf at BMO: Ambrosie

Dan Ralph, Canadian Press

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie says the Toronto Argonauts are looking at how to rectify the turf issue at BMO Field.

Most of BMO Field’s playing surface is natural grass. But the entire north end zone is turf as is a portion of the south end zone.

The difference in surfaces has caused problems, highlighted in the second quarter of a game Saturday when Edmonton receiver Derel Walker slipped and fell in the north end zone, allowing Toronto defensive back Ronnie Yell to intercept a pass and preserve a 12-4 advantage. That turned out to be a crucial play as the Argos eventually won 20-17.

Ambrosie saw Walker’s slip firsthand as he attended the game with Toronto governor Dale Lastman and club president Bill Manning. Ambrosie said all three discussed the matter afterwards and that the Argos are well aware of the situation and actively pursuing a resolution.

However, Ambrosie said finding a suitable fix isn’t an easy matter.

“It’s not like you and I and six other guys showing up with some sod and laying it down on a weekend,” Ambrosie said Tuesday. “What I learned Saturday night after having that conversation is it’s much more complicated than that.

“I found Bill and Dale very engaged on the issue and they’re exploring what the options are. We’ll just keep having the conversation with them and hopefully at some point we’ll find a solution that makes sense for all parties.”

Edmonton quarterback Mike Reilly said Walker slipped because he was running on turf.

“A hundred per cent he slipped and fell because of the turf, but it’s not something that we don’t know about, both teams play on it,” Reilly told TSN after the game. “There’s nothing we can do about that, we’re going to run our plays and try to execute them and do your best as you can on that surface.

“I’ve never seen D-Walk slip and fall on a one-on-one jump ball.”

Other CFL players also chimed in.

“The to Toronto turf monster (endzone) strikes again!!!! It’s Changing games now!!” tweeted Ottawa receiver Greg Ellingson.

But Ellingson also said receivers use the turf to their advantage.

“Also used by offence to break routes off before the endzone. Making dbs change direction in the endzone. Slipping in the process,” he added via Twitter.

Hamilton defensive back Courtney Stephen tweeted: “It makes NO Sense. It’s not safe at all.”

Ambrosie, a former CFL offensive lineman, admits he has player safety concerns regarding the BMO Field turf.

“I worry about it,” he said. “We’ve received feedback from the Players’ Association that they’re worried about it as well.

“I think about it and I do want us to be conscious about it through that lens. We’re talking with the Argos about it, they’re looking at what the possibilities are and we just keep working towards a solution and hope one is out there.”

Another startling development Saturday was the attendance. Only 12,196 spectators watched the defending Grey Cup champions earn their first win of the season after 16,450 attended Toronto’s home opener, a 41-7 Grey Cup rematch loss to Calgary on June 23.

Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment is in its first season owning the Argos. The company certainly faces an uphill battle rebuilding a franchise that averaged under 14,000 fans last season but Ambrosie remains bullish on MLSE’s financial clout and marketing resources.

“I spent a lot of time in the stadium and the fans that were there were loving it,” he said. ” I’m confident the plan MLSE and the Argos have is going to yield long-term results.

“There was never going to be an overnight solution.”

Toronto isn’t the only CFL club having trouble at the turnstiles.

The Montreal Alouettes drew 16,718 fans to their 28-18 home loss to Ottawa on Friday night after 19,498 watched them drop their season opener 56-10 to Winnipeg on June 22. And the B.C. Lions host Winnipeg on Saturday night in their first home game since June 16 when they attracted 20,182 spectators to a 22-10 victory over the Als.

However, Ambrosie feels B.C. is in good hands with new president Rick LeLacheur, who was part of two Grey Cup-winning teams as Edmonton’s president.

“I like what he’s doing, he’s a veteran of our league,” Ambrosie said. “He knows the value of getting young people into the stadium so they (Lions) have created a ticket-pricing strategy for young season-ticket holders, for kids to become fans of the B.C. Lions.”

Ambrosie feels the entire CFL can help Montreal regain a foothold in Quebec.

“How do we make sure our friends and partners in Quebec see that commitment to the LCF brand the way English Canadians see the commitment to the CFL brand?” Ambrosie said. “I don’t think we’ve done enough on that front.

“It’s not just a Montreal Alouettes issue anymore, it has to be in partnership with the other eight teams and league office. I think if we do that we can help accelerate the recovery to a very strong franchise in that city.”


37 Comments on CFL, Argos exploring how to fix end zone turf at BMO: Ambrosie

  1. Under the field turf is solid concrete.
    Get out the jack hammers and get to work. This end zone issue is ridiculous!

    • No it’s not ridiculous, no other player slipped in the game. They can’t did out the concrete because the stands slide on top of it for soccer games.
      MLSE will never give up that seating and have a reduced capacity. Soccer fans crowd into the seats behind the goals.
      The answer is footwear and players practicing before a game running on the transition.

      • What a ridiculous comment. You don’t have the slightest clue, do you?

        Shoes for natural grass are COMPLETELY different that shoes for AstroTurf. It’s not a “mix-n-match” kind of thing, my friend.

  2. TheLastArgoFan // July 10, 2018 at 2:57 pm //

    This situation was known BEFORE the Argonauts moved to BMO Field.
    Where was the outcry then?

    And the endzones are 3 yards short of the mandated 20 yards.
    When will that become an issue? Or are all the Nostradamuses waiting until a game winning touchdown is negated because a receiver’s toes didn’t quite touch down in bounds and THEN someone points out that 3 more yards would have made a difference?

    • Billinburlington // July 10, 2018 at 3:03 pm //

      I thought the short end zones were to be an issue only for the first season at BMO field.. I didn’t know it is a permanent issue. Definitely needs to get resolved.

      • The only solution is to play on an NFL sized field.
        Or players choosing the right footwear and practice running between the transition.

        • Are you going to keep repeating the same asinine misinformation about “choosing the right footwear”?

          Players either wear cleats for natural grass or turf shoes for AstroTurf. There’s no “in between” transition – – it’s one or the other.

          Unless you want to proclaim they should change shoes inside the end zone while the ball is in flight?

  3. Howard Wulkan // July 10, 2018 at 3:15 pm //

    This is good, and hopefully a good solution can be found (temporary steel plates that sit on top of the grass while the temporary stands are extended?). Next up is fixing the corners of the endzones in Montreal.

    • The problem is that the stands are only pushed back 9 times a year. The rest of the year the stands are on top of where the CFL end zones are.
      There are over 24 soccer games and also rugby games on the real grass, for the few times that there is an Argo game and the few times that players actually running around the end zone, it’s not worth it.

      • Move the soccer to Skydome and rugby to Varsity stadium. Or tell the pussy soccer league that TFC will be playing on turf.

  4. Sask4ever // July 10, 2018 at 3:26 pm //

    There is no true solution in this stadium or city.
    The solution is to move to Saskatoon where support will be huge. Easily 40K plus


  6. Just saying // July 10, 2018 at 3:34 pm //

    Yah right, laughable

  7. Sth1988 // July 10, 2018 at 3:35 pm //

    Real grass on portable trays. Problem solved

    • Yes that might work but they need to have a step up.
      The turf would be on the concrete. The players would then have to step up to get into the end zone

  8. Just saying // July 10, 2018 at 3:42 pm //

    Or crazy gloo sod to the concrete before each game

  9. solara2000 // July 10, 2018 at 4:18 pm //

    While the turf is an issue, the real concern has to be the attendance in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver. Interesting how 2 of the 3 aforementioned clubs appear to have been on idle for a number of years when it comes to identifying and investing in a meaningful fan experience. I think I have been hearing about the need to get ‘young people’ into the stadium for years now. Obviously its more than a small challenge.
    CFL has to be relieved to have a professional organization like Bell/Maple Leaf Sports at the helm in T.O.
    Now to find a similar partner in Vancouver and hope the ownership in Montreal has deep pocket for what looks like a drought on the horizon.

    • I think the CFL would rather have someone like a Braley, Bob Young owning the team. These guys were using their own money and losing a lot of it, they didn’t care about the losses because they could afford it, they have a love for the game.
      MLSE will not put up with losses and low attendance, they answer to board members and board members will bring up the success of the Raps, Leafs, TFC and their attendance figures and the fact they attract a much younger audience than the Argos.

      • Really don’t follow the details do you? MLSE has said multiple times, this is a LONG TERM plan. When purchasing the team they expected baby steps, not huge changes overnite.
        Can’t say I’m suprised though, you’re the same guy with the revised BMO stadium plan for the magical fairy dust pie in the sky no chance NFL team.
        55,000 seat piece of junk stadium that the NFL would approve of? Where do you come up with this stuff? You sound like the boardroom guy. You are the boardroom guy, aren’t you? You seem to share his same lack of business understanding. Argos losses in the scheme of MLSE. Please tell me you’re kidding.

  10. Life is about adjustments. The American players are used to 10 yard end zones. I remember when there were 10 yard end zones in Memphis when they had the US expansion and players would crash into the wall. Tried to fit a CFL field into a US size field. Tight all around. Part of the folklore of the CFL.

    • If I remember correctly CFL end zones used to be 25 yards long until I believe Commonwealth Stadium was built in Edmonton or was it BC Place and they couldn’t fit in 25 yard end zones.
      One of the features of the CFL game is the larger end zone. You can still throw a medium length pass near the end zone while in the NFL the defence can use it as an extra defender.

      • You are correct with the BC Lions!!! They were the first with the 20 yard end zones.

    • I’ve always thought 20yd end zones were too large and 15yd ones would be perfect. Still enough fire off a decent pass, yet more pressure and excitement to squeeze it in for a TD.

    • Clay Connor // July 10, 2018 at 7:30 pm //

      I think it was Shreveport that had a grass American sized field with artificial turf all along the sideline to make it wide enough for a CFL field.

  11. Bell and MLSE are just as useless as Dave Braley was.

    Last year’s embarrassment of a 14,000 average with the Bell braintrust running things was brutal.

    And it looks like MLSE is determined to go even lower than 14,000 this year.

  12. Jim Bob // July 10, 2018 at 6:03 pm //

    The biggest problem is getting people away from the TVs be it at home or the Sports Bars and in the seats at the stadiums. Fixing a turf/grass stadium problem should be a easy fix overall. A 17 yard end zone vs a 20 yard end zone is no big deal. With MLSE involved they should be able to create some very good package deals for folks with all the teams they own to get the seats filled in a profitable manner.

  13. Blackhawk89 // July 10, 2018 at 6:35 pm //

    Al’s fold 1st then lions, the league soon to follow

    • Yeah, don’t you miss the glory days of the late 80’s and mid 90’s when teams were announcing bankruptcy and telethons were being held. You are aware that the league is in the best financial shape it has been in decades? Richest owners the league has ever had but now is the team it folds. Where does this stuff come from? Does the league have challenges? Yup, just like the past 40 years. But this “folding” business is just nonsense.

  14. Evil Empire // July 10, 2018 at 6:39 pm //

    It’s bush league, and disgraceful in the biggest city of the country.

  15. BC Lions and Allouettes both can and will rebound. Once BC gets some engaged ownership and Allouettes get their GM and QB situation figured out along with a revamped stadium they’ll be good. Argos… so hard. They’ve got great coaching and management, emerging stars like Wilder and Franklin, a great stadium… just can’t get relevant with younger fans. I thought having 16,500 for their home opener was a good start… if only they could sustain this.

    • Getting 16,500 for the home opener was catastrophic – – definitely not a “good start” at all.

      MLSE decided the best approach for the disastrous attendance was to close down the upper east side.

      WTF kind of halfassed “solution” is that?

      I realize BMO is a dinkified little bandbox that pales in comparison to the Skydome, but it’s inexcusable to not be able to get 20,000 asses in seats at BMO.

  16. Edward Leslie // July 10, 2018 at 9:28 pm //

    Byron: I agree. B.C. and Montreal would get a boost if they could only get some good news.
    A new owner in B.C. and Montreal firing Kavis Reed would be good starts. Maybe the Als signing a name player like Colin Kaepernick would help too.

    Toronto is a bigger problem. They have a good team.
    They have exceptionally bright people running the team as Coach and General Manager. They have a beautiful stadium. They have lots of corporate resources. Yet they are getting smaller and smaller crowds.
    Perhaps its time to give up? Move them to Quebec City or London, Ontario maybe.

  17. Tiger man // July 11, 2018 at 12:09 pm //

    “Another startling development Saturday was the attendance. Only 12,196 spectators watched the defending Grey Cup champions earn their first win of the season after 16,450 attended Toronto’s home opener, a 41-7 Grey Cup rematch loss to Calgary on June 23.”

    Why is this information so startling??

    Isn’t 12 thousand an above average crowd for them??

    Obviously, the cracker jack rings given out the last game had a once only affect…and I guess they didn’t give away anything for this one…

    • “Isn’t 12 thousand an above average crowd for them??”. Nope
      “Obviously, the cracker jack rings given out the last game had a once only affect”. Fans loved them. What did the Ti-Cats give to the STH’s. The standard free honey dip at Tim’s or perhaps an Itunes download for Prince’s 1999?

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