CFL Should Re-Vamp, Expand ‘Ultimate Weekend’ Experience

The CFL accidentally stumbled upon a piece of a marketing genius in 2008 when, for the first time in years, they scheduled four regular season games on four consecutive days. Canadian football fans Kevin and Alpesh took the opportunity to book a trip they dubbed the ‘Ultimate CFL Weekend,’ traveling to each of the week’s four games in Calgary, BC, Saskatchewan, and Toronto, respectively. It was a fan-initiated anomaly that provided a lot of positive headlines for the CFL and the league responded by fitting similar four-day weeks into its regular season schedule ever since.

One such week was this past one: week two, 2015. Thursday night’s game was in Winnipeg; Friday’s, Montreal; Saturday’s, Ottawa; and the week wrapped up in Regina on Sunday afternoon. Four games in four days. The ‘Ultimate CFL Weekend.’

But was there any buzz about it?

Similar weekends have gotten attention in recent years. Three groups of fans took on the Ultimate CFL Weekend in 2009, while CFL superfan Tyler Bieber did the same in 2012. It’s still an interesting concept that can generate fan interest and quality story lines. In fact, for anyone interested, there are still plenty of remaining opportunities to book such a trip this season: weeks 6, 7, 9, and 10 are all begging to be Ultimate CFL Weekend-ed.

The primary issue with booking such a trip, however, is, of course, travel. Booking up to five flights in one week is simply not economically feasible for a lot of CFL fans, especially considering that a lot of fans like to travel in groups. This is why I have come up with a proposal for how the CFL could go about restructuring and expanding its Ultimate CFL Weekend scheduling opportunities. Here’s the proposal:

The CFL should devote two weeks of its summer schedule to Ultimate CFL Weekend events. One should be held solely in the east, the other in the west. Consider the following schedule:

Ultimate CFL Eastern Weekend

Thursday: TBD @ Hamilton

Friday: TBD @ Toronto

Saturday: TBD @ Ottawa

Sunday: TBD @ Montreal

Ultimate CFL Western Weekend

Thursday: TBD @ Winnipeg*

Friday: TBD @ Saskatchewan

Saturday: TBD @ Calgary

Sunday: TBD @ Edmonton

These weeks, if scheduled back-to-back, would provide fans with two opportunities to take in the Ultimate CFL Weekend on either side of our great country. The geographically-friendly, linear nature of the trip would allow fans to travel predominantly by land, while traveling together as a group (convoying in vehicles on the highway, sharing a bus or train, staying in the same hotel, etc.) would allow for different parties of fans completing the trip to socialize with one another in different CFL cities.

The CFL could further elevate the profile of the trips by encouraging home teams to host special tailgates and/or game day events to welcome and include out-of-town fans. This would give each CFL host city an opportunity to share its own unique way of presenting the game we love, while allowing fans from different cities — many of whom already socialize through twitter, blogs, and the CFL’s burgeoning podcast scene — to socialize in real life.

With the Argonauts slated to move to BMO Field next season, there are no longer any scheduling conflicts getting in the way of making regional Ultimate CFL Weekends a reality. The trips would create a wealth of positive promotional opportunities for the league on television, radio, and social media, and would provide a great opportunity for fans to travel to other CFL stadiums they may never have otherwise visited.

Two Ultimate CFL Weekends: East Week and West Week. Make it happen, Mr. Orridge.

John Hodge, Blue Bomber Talk

Twitter: @BlueBomberTalk

Email: [email protected]

*Winnipeg could be swapped out with BC bi-annually, with the trip reversing directions (ie. BC to Edmonton to Calgary to Saskatchewan), although overnight land travel from Vancouver to Edmonton isn’t for the faint of heart.

John Hodge is a Canadian football reporter based in Winnipeg.