Contrary to popular opinion in Canada, there are people at Sportsnet who care about the CFL and Tim Micallef is one of them.
Micallef is one of the hosts of Tim and Sid. Even though the three-down league has been hit with financial ramifications due to COVID-19, he wants to see it flourish in the future. Attendance has been an ongoing issue in major markets such as Toronto where Micallef is based.
“That sense of community, that sense of just going out and having a good time, I don’t know why we’ve lost it in some parts of Canada, but it feels like there’s a too cool for school or something going on. I don’t think it’s just Canadian football,” Micallef said on The Rod Pedersen Show.
“In Toronto we have it with the Jays, you see that all the time. When they get hot there’s a bunch of people who show up. And when they’re cold, I’m sitting out along the third base line alone with my feet up, and my son capturing as many balls as he can because it’s ridiculously empty.”
The Riders led the CFL in average attendance during the 2019 season with 30,723 fans per game at Mosaic Stadium — 7,806 above the league average. Meanwhile, the Argos brought in 12,493 last year. The CFL averaged 22,916 fans and Toronto was 10,423 below the league’s per game mark.
“The event is what you make it. The greatest example of that in Canada is the Saskatchewan Roughriders because everywhere they go, that party follows them. Even if you are a fan of the other team, you grow to appreciate how much Rider fans make your home games more fun,” Micallef said.
For Canadian university programs, except essentially Laval, drawing students or a consistently large group of supporters out to games has been a tough task which hasn’t been figured out for years. Micallef has an idea for schools across the country and the CFL for when large social gatherings can happen again.
“I’ve been saying this about U Sports, CIS, CIAU for years, same thing applies to the CFL — make it fun. If you have to paper the house for three years, PAPER THE HOUSE FOR THREE YEARS,” Micallef said emphatically.
“And then people will start paying for the tickets. Half of the people at NCAA games, when we are allowed 100,000 in, don’t care what the final score is. They’re there for the fun, they’re there for the pageantry, they’re there to enjoy it.”