The Edmonton Elks are closing the upper bowl at Commonwealth Stadium for the 2024 season in a move they indicated is aimed at improving its game-day experience.
“Closing the upper bowl is key to enhancing the game day atmosphere and rebuilding our home field advantage by bringing our fans closer to the action,” said interim president and CEO Rick LeLacheur in a statement.
“With a capacity of over 31,000 in the lower bowl next season, Commonwealth Stadium will still have one of the largest capacities in the CFL. We’re confident that the combination of improved play on the field and a better atmosphere will create one of the most enjoyable game day experiences in the league.”
LeLacheur also expressed his confidence that fans would purchase more than 31,000 tickets for key games, which would result in the team opening additional seating in the upper bowl. The Elks surpassed this limit twice in 2023, drawing crowds of 32,233 against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on June 11 and 32,422 for the Labour Day Classic rematch against the Calgary Stampeders.
The veteran executive recently served as the president and CEO of the B.C. Lions, who closed the upper bowl at their venue starting in 2015. They have since opened it for a number of games that have drawn larger crowds.
Fans who currently have season tickets in the upper bowl at Commonwealth Stadium will not be charged extra for moving to the lower bowl. A team spokesperson told 3DownNation that there are currently 3,700 season tickets in the upper bowl that belong to 1,400 account holders. Edmonton is keeping all ticket pricing flat for 2024.
Attendance at Elks games has diminished greatly over the past two decades, falling from an average of 41,228 in 2003 to 22,239 in 2023. Almost half of this decrease has occurred in the past five years as the club averaged attendance of 31,107 in 2018.
Edmonton recently went 1,415 days without a home victory, setting a new North American professional sports record of 22 consecutive home losses. The previous mark of 20 games was set by the St. Louis Browns of MLB in 1953.
Though the Elks were recently eliminated from playoff contention, there is cautious optimism surrounding the club. Canadian quarterback Tre Ford was promoted to the starting role following a miserable 0-8 start to the season and has since gone 4-4 with three of those losses coming against Winnipeg, B.C., and Toronto, the top three teams in the league.
In celebration of the team’s 75th anniversary, Edmonton has also created a new youth season ticket for anyone under the age of 18 that costs $75.