No Redblacks? No Problem. For Ottawa, the 105th Grey Cup was a smashing success

Everywhere you looked, you saw their logo.

During Grey Cup week, it was literally impossible to avoid seeing Ottawa Redblacks paraphernalia.

From the thousands of snow dusted fans on all four sides of TD Place, to the daily team parties, to the family friendly meet and greets, Redblacks imagery was front and centre.

Players such as Greg Ellingson, Brad Sinopoli, Ryan Lindley, Antoine Pruneau, Sherrod Baltimore, Nigel Romick, Arnaud Gascon-Nadon, SirVincent Rogers, Jon Gott and others were prominent at events..

There were coaches like Mark Nelson, Jamie Elizondo, Moton Hopkins and Rick Campbell on hand.

Even legendary alumni such as Henry Burris and Rough Rider great Russ Jackson dropped by.

The only thing missing was what every Ottawa fan truly wanted to see, their team on the field.

And yet in spite of that, the 105th Grey Cup was a rousing success.

R-Nation and the Ottawa community fully embraced the CFL and showed anyone with lingering doubts that the nation’s capital is indeed, a thriving football hotbed.

As an Ottawa native, it was impressive to see the city rally around the festival. During the day, Lansdowne was packed, teeming with events (both free and paid) for all ages. In the evenings, the R-Nation party was the nightlife epicentre but the Stamps House, the Atlantic Schooners East Down Kitchen Party, Spirit of Edmonton and Riderville all went strong as well.

Every day leading up to the big game was an endless slew of opportunities for both locals and visitors to get out and rub shoulders with each other and their gridiron heroes.

Perhaps most impressively, everything ran smoothly. Aside from Sunday’s Great Lawn tailgate (which was overhyped and actually quite disappointing), most events were well organized and fun.

As I took in the sights over the past few days, I couldn’t help but shake my head to think that only four years earlier, the Redblacks were in their inaugural season and many of the buildings at Lansdowne still under construction.

That the 105th Grey Cup was such a smashing success is a tribute to not only Jeff Hunt and the OSEG organization, but the entire city.

It’s often said that the Grey Cup is a week long celebration of Canadian football, but for many in Ottawa, it was so much more. It was a chance to welcome in their CFL brethren from around the county and another opportunity to revel in the fact that their home is a football town; even without the Redblacks playing.

Santino Filoso is originally from Ottawa and has written about the Redblacks since 2013. He is the only CFL writer currently living in Brazil (as far as we know).