Fans were talking down the trash talk between two big city mayors as they streamed into Ottawa’s TD Place stadium for today’s Canadian Football League championship finale.
The mayors of Calgary and Toronto exchanged jabs about the Grey Cup on Saturday, ahead of the showdown between the Stampeders and Argonauts.
The banter was sparked after a reporter tweeted that Jim Watson, the mayor of Grey Cup host city Ottawa, would be supporting the Argos since his hometown Ottawa Redblacks were eliminated in the CFL East semifinal.
In a message on Twitter, Toronto Mayor John Tory welcomed Watson to the Argonauts’ fanbase, telling him there was “plenty of room on the Toronto Argos bandwagon.”
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi quoted Tory’s tweet as he took a shot at the Argonauts’ low attendance numbers in Toronto, saying there was plenty of room on the Argo’s bandwagon, “since there’s never been anyone actually on it.”
The Argonauts struggled to fill BMO Field all season, averaging 13,914 fans in the stadium with a 27,000 person capacity, nearly 11,000 fewer than the average league attendance.
But the low numbers at home didn’t dampen the spirits of Toronto fans who ventured to Ottawa to cheer their team to victory.
“They don’t look very hard because we’re here, and they’ll hear us today,” Toronto supporter Charlene McNair said of Calgary fans as she made her way into the sold out Ottawa stadium.
Still, McNair, decked out head-to-toe in blue and white Argos colours, admitted she was a little surprised that Toronto made it to the playoffs considering how they started the season.
The team was 4-6 at the end of August, but McNair said she has watched as Toronto has turned its game around enough to bring it to a Grey Cup game for the first time since 2012 when they beat the Stampeders.
“I’ve gone to a lot of practices, and I’ve seen them progress and I’ve seen it keep going,” said McNair. “And they’re not going to quit until they with this Cup.”
Calgary fans, however, were upbeat about their odds as they entered the game Sunday, despite the Stampeders’ shocking loss to the underdog Redblacks in last year’s battle for the championship.
At the end of the day, the trash talk all falls to the side and CFL fans come together to celebrate, no matter who wins, said Jade Vallek, a Roughriders fan from just outside Saskatoon.
“We love the CFL,” Vallek explained as her fellow Saskatchewan fans chanted “ABC, ABC (anybody but Calgary) behind her.
“I watch every game, I cheer for players on every team. If you don’t like the team as much, you cheer for players you like,” she said. “That’s what I do.”
Cloudy skies and temperatures dropping below -3C brought light snow onto the field in the hours before the 105th Grey Cup coin toss by Gov. Gen. Julie Payette.