Ticats’ Grey Cup plan is outside-the-box thinking at its best

Photo courtesy: Hamilton Tiger-Cats

Getting a Grey Cup isn’t exactly the easy part these days, but putting on a good event is definitely the hard part.

While many things still need to be figured out, and the team has almost two years to do that figuring, the Hamilton Tiger-Cats unveiled some of their game-day plans for the 2021 Grey Cup this week. And it’s definitely something we have not seen before.

The biggest and most ambitious reveal is what they are calling the Grey Cup Social. Basically, it looks like a massive, standing-room-only setting in the south end zone of Tim Hortons Field. It will feature pregame concerts, the “CFL Food Experience” and it will be where the halftime show and Grey Cup trophy presentation will take place.

It’s a unique experience, to be sure, but one that fits in with what the Ticats have been doing since moving into Tim Hortons Field. The Ticats have made common areas a big part of their marketing to get people to come to games. There is the Stipley, which is a massive bar area in the same south end zone where the Grey Cup Social will take place, and the Coors Banquet Bar. The concept seems to take those ideas, sprinkle in a little of the Raptors’ Jurassic Park, and what you get is the Grey Cup Social.

The Ticats will also be doing traditional things, like adding additional seating in the north end zone and adding some premium sideline seats on the east side. All in all, these additions will get the capacity up to around 33,000.

The Ticats are going with fresh, innovative ideas to boost attendance for the league’s biggest game. Tim Hortons Field seats a capacity of 23,500, so something needed to be done to increase capacity for the Grey Cup.

The CFL Food Experience is something that I think will be a big hit (CFL fans like food… or so I have been told). As I have talked about before when discussing Hamilton’s Grey Cup ambitions, the food scene in Hamilton is Masoli-level elite. Adding that into the overall Grey Cup presentation is a genius idea. Adding the twist of having local chefs prepare foods that represent each CFL city is going to make this a must-attend aspect of game day.

While I am sure many would have liked the team to take the traditional stance of adding bleachers to the end zone, I applaud the Ticats for thinking outside the box, something they have done a lot of over the last half-decade.

Whether any of these creative ideas will work is yet to be seen, but the Ticats are trying something new — new for fans across the league, not new for the team — and that is to be commended.

Josh Smith has been writing about the Ticats and the CFL since 2010 and was sporting his beard way before it was cool. Will be long after, too.