The life of a 3DownNation contributor is an interesting one.
Driven by a passion for the game, and a love for a league that occasionally doesn’t seem to love us back (as fans, not as a site), we head into media scrums and locker rooms armed knowing that for most of us, this is a passion project and not a way to put a regular meal on the table.
That said, as a person who has the benefit of a day job that requires me to travel frequently, I often find myself in places where I can take in the local sports team, and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing games in eight of the CFL’s nine current stadiums. Only Hamilton remains to be checked off, and I had thought that would happen at this year’s Grey Cup before circumstances dictated I wouldn’t be attending.
All that preamble is to provide some context before I make my next statement.
Last night’s Toronto Argonauts game was the most difficult fan experience I’ve ever had in trying to get to a game, and it made me understand why the crowds are that sparse despite the ratings being similar or better than other CFL teams.
As has been noted in several places, the attendance of 6,788 at Wednesday’s game was the worst attendance in Argos’ franchise history.
A friend and I were two of those people.
I am staying in town for a conference in a Mississauga hotel. BMO Field is 17 kilometers from here.
The ride sharing app I use was about $45, before tip, to get to the stadium in time for the game, so I decided to look at public transit options.
There was an option to take a free shuttle to Pearson airport to catch a train that goes downtown. That ticket? $12.35 for a train that only leaves every 30 minutes and drops you at Union station where you can transfer to the Go Train for another $5.00 fee to travel one stop.
Here’s the kicker: the trains run every 15 minutes until 6:45 p.m. After that, it’s once an hour. I found that out when I arrived at 7:00 p.m. ahead of a 7:30 p.m. start. So one I boarded the 7:45 p.m. train and went the one stop to the station, I arrived at BMO Field at 7:55 p.m. having missed the first quarter.
I left my hotel at 5:45 p.m. The other option was a trolley for similar cost, a little more walking and similar arrival time.
Two hours and 10 minutes to get to a place 17 kilometres away. Yikes.
For a little bit of fun, I googled “15K run times.” I found a running website that suggested even a slow runner could cover that distance in two hours.
Using public transit options, it took me longer than that to get there — and it cost me $20.
My friend is a Toronto native with a car and coming from work decided to meet me at the stadium and park there. That cost $25 on a Wednesday night in an otherwise empty stadium lot.
The end zone tickets we acquired were listed for sale online for $25, which means parking at the game cost as much as getting into the stadium.
Transit is nearly the same and is definitely not a coordinated effort with MLSE to provide timely service for its patrons as the postgame trains still run hourly with only one that left 45 minutes after the game ended.
All in all, the game experience was comparable to other stadiums I’ve attended and the fans in attendance were super passionate about the football. Considering the travel challenges and how costly as it is to get to a game, they have to be.