For the rest of the CFL-loving country, announcing a well-known halftime act may not sound like a big deal. But when both the Montreal Alouettes and legendary rock band Our Lady Peace jointly announced last week that the group would be performing during the team’s home opener, it was a game-changer.
For years, all we’ve heard about the team is that they’re losing money. While the product on the field has been relatively stable, we’ve seen quite a few owners and team presidents come and go.
So when the Als made it public that they had procured a legitimate headliner to help entice fans to pack the first home game, I decided to dig a little deeper. How did this come about? Whose idea was it? Are more acts on the way? For that matter, what other changes should local fans expect?
What became clear in speaking with new Alouettes’ president Mark Weightman, who has been on the job barely two months, is that it’s no longer business as usual.
“The idea to do something big at our first game came from the top. Mr. Peladeau wanted to create something special for Week 1 and show that things are changing,” explained Weightman, who’s in his second stint with the club.
How much have things changed? Weightman and his team were advised to contact the entertainment division of Peladeau’s Quebecor conglomerate and see what acts might be available for the first game, June 10 at home versus the Ottawa Redblacks. That’s right, the Alouettes now have access to additional divisions and resources to get the job done. For a team that was under league stewardship mere months ago, that’s a far cry from what we’ve grown accustomed to.
For their part, the Raine Maida-led Our Lady Peace has been around for over 30 years, with more than five million albums sold and four JUNO Awards won. They plan on doing something very special at halftime on June 10.
“I never would have said yes to something like this years ago, due to wanting to have control over everything. But I’ve evolved and we’re really excited for this opportunity. We want to make the most of our time and do something more than just three or four songs. You might hear a medley. We’ll see,” explained Maida, who grew up playing running back.
“I didn’t see the link between sports and our music when I was younger the way I do now, so this is new. My mother was born in Montreal and I love the city, I love performing there.”
On the Alouettes’ side of things, you can’t help but wonder if the team hired the band to covertly attract more fans from Ottawa to make the less-than-two-hour trip to try and make sure their home-opener is a sellout. In other words, if Montreal was hosting Edmonton, would they have still brought a band of this calibre?
Either way, Weightman says that incredible efforts are being made to reinvigorate the overall Percival Molson Stadium experience.
“It’s been a sprint to try and get things ready for this season. Mr. Peladeau wanted to make many changes for the better, including installing a brand-new scoreboard. It won’t be ready for Week 1, but fans will see it this season.”
As for other special acts, Weightman indicated that Alouettes fans in attendance will be treated to a special Cirque Du Soleil spectacle at the half on July 30. The team will also be featuring local musical artists as part of pre-game festivities.
In addition, the team will be revamping other stadium amenities and experiences for 2023, including adding more turnstiles to get fans into the stadium quicker, introducing 18 new food items (including an Alouettes beer), and more tailgating activities on the mountain outside the stadium.
“Fans were complaining that the Italian sausages disappeared. Well, we’re bringing them back, among other new items,” Weightman shared.
Tickets start at $27 for the June 10 home opener versus Ottawa and Our Lady Peace concert. But could we see Raine Maida and Our Lady Peace performing at other CFL stadiums this season, or even at the Grey Cup?
“Sure, why not? I’m open to all of it.”
Great. Who’s going to start the petition?