The worst kept secret in the all the CFL will be made official today: the 2017 Grey Cup is headed to Ottawa.
The move makes total sense. Next year will be Canada’s sesquicentennial and capping the year with Canada’s biggest sporting event in the nation’s capital made too much sense not to happen.
However, the announcement also brought out a question many in Hamilton have been asking since the mid 1990s: when will it be our turn?
It has been 20 years since my city has hosted a Grey Cup. It was way back in 1996. To put that into perspective, Tupac had just died, Biggie was still alive and a young whippersnapper named Josh Smith had just started his first year of high school. Suffice to say, it has been a long time.
Hamilton has played host to the league’s title game just twice in the last 44 years. In that span, Ottawa, which has seen two teams fold, has also hosted twice, with the 2017 game being their third time. So despite having no team for 12 years between 1972 and 2017, Ottawa will have hosted the Grey Cup more times than Hamilton.
We all know why Hamilton did not get to host a Grey Cup between 1996-2012 and that was Ivor Wynne Stadium. The Ticats’ former home just was not equipped to host a premier game like the Grey Cup. Hamiltonians knew this and accepted it.
But Ivor Wynne is no more and in its place is Tim Hortons Field, as good a facility as their is in the league. Constructions delays meant there was no way the league would award the 2014 game to Hamilton, and again, locals accepted that. The 2015 game was given to Winnipeg and their gorgeous new stadium, Investors Group Field, and again, Hamiltonians accepted it.
Then came the announcement that Toronto would host the 2016 game.
The city that has massive problems attracting fans is going to host the game just four years after their last hosting gig? And Hamilton, with its rabid and loyal fanbase is getting the shaft again? And now Ottawa, a city that has held onto CFL teams about as well as Donald Trump has held onto wives, gets the game before we do?
But if, as many suspect, the sale of the Argos to a more stable ownership group was contingent on Toronto getting the Grey Cup in 2016, I guess we can accept that. And 2017 is the 150th birthday of this great country, so it is hard to argue against the game being awarded to Ottawa.
So with 2016 and 2017 are out, 2018 has to be the year, right?
Well, Saskatchewan is opening their beautiful, state-of-the-art stadium in 2017 and they will want a Grey Cup. Edmonton hasn’t hosted since 2010, and Commonwealth Stadium has undergone major renovations, so they will want to host again soon. There is also the issue of eastern Canada getting three Grey Cups in a row with Toronto in ’16, Ottawa in ’17 and potentially Hamilton in ’18. Could we be getting the shaft once more and watch as some other city jumps the queue on us again?
They better not!
Saskatchewan hosted the game in 2013 and the difficulty in procuring accommodations for the event meant that many Grey Cup regulars stayed home. Regina is a small city and they just don’t have the infrastructure to host the Grey Cup regularly. They should, and definitely will, get a chance to host again but four years after their last hosting gig is too soon. They can wait. (And for the record, Regina has hosted three Grey Cups since Hamilton last hosted theirs.)
Edmonton deserves a game soon, but 2010 is a lot more recent than 1996, so sorry Edmontonians, but you have to wait a little longer.
As for the three straight eastern Grey Cups, that can be countered with the fact that six of the last seven Grey Cups have been hosted by a West Division team. Calgary in 2009, Edmonton in 2010, BC in 2011, Saskatchewan in 2013, BC again in 2014 and Winnipeg last year. Every western Canadian city has had the Grey Cup at least once, so Hamilton getting it in 2018 and making it three in a row for the east should not be considered unfair.
So when should it be our turn? Simple: 2018. It is longer overdue for this city, my city, to host the Grey Cup.