CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie is speaking in Hamilton tonight as part of his cross-Canada tour and one of the questions he’s inevitably going to face will surround when Hamilton is going to host a Grey Cup, something they haven’t done since 1996.
But they aren’t the only ones looking to get back in the game.
The Montreal Alouettes also want to get back in the Grey Cup rotation according to team president Patrick Boivin. Montreal is a great city and the fan base could likely use the infusion of interest and attention that comes with hosting the CFL’s marquee event. Montreal hosted its last Grey Cup in 2008, the second-longest drought after Hamilton.
The only problem: where will they play the game?
Boivin appeared with Randy Ambrosie as part of the CFL commissioner’s cross-country tour which launched in Montreal in early February.
“It’s been too long since we’ve had a Grey Cup in Montreal and we have a very strong interest in bringing it back in 2021.” – Patrick Boivin
— Alouettes de Montréal (@MTLAlouettes) February 2, 2018
The issue for the Alouettes has been the lack of a suitable facility – a concern which Boivin did not address in his remarks.
Percival Molson Stadium, where the Alouettes play their home games, has a capacity of just 25,012 and has precious little room for temporary expansion. Last year’s Grey Cup in Ottawa was hosted at TD Place in front of just over 36,000 fans, which included 10,000 temporary seats.
The 2008 game was played at Olympic Stadium but concerns over the structural integrity of the roof mean that events cannot be held if there is more than three centimetres of snow. Given that the Grey Cup is played in November – remember last year’s Snow Bowl? – that’s not a risk the CFL is likely to take.
In November, the Quebec provincial government announced plans to replace the existing roof at a cost of between $200 and $250 million but work isn’t expected to be completed by 2023 at the earliest – two years after Boivin’s suggested host date.
The 2018 Grey Cup is set to be hosted in Edmonton and there are a few other CFL franchises likely interested in mounting a bid for what’s become a lucrative event for the host team, city and league. The Saskatchewan Roughriders, who last hosted in 2013, have a brand new facility as do the Tiger-Cats. Hamilton, however, is still embroiled in litigation over the stadium and city council has said a bid will not proceed until those issues are resolved.
Still, a Grey Cup in Montreal, one of the most enjoyable cities on the CFL circuit, sounds like fun – if Boivin can find a place to play the actual game.