Over the next 5-6 years BMO Field will get a more Argo friendly makeover. Probably more like Scotiabank Arena( formerly ACC) becoming more neutral to accommodate both team colours.
Great, just in time to celebrate our next victory!
Yup… sad state of affairs this season.
It is, but it’s still early. This league has witnessed many dramatic turnarounds . . . not holding my breath this year, but hope springs eternal.
If the Argos turn it around this season it would be the biggest turnaround in league history. They can’t pass, can’t catch, can’t run, can’t tackle, have one of the worst combinations of offence, defense and special teams I have ever seen.
When BC turned around a brutal start to win the Grey Cup there were signs that there was a team under that horrible start; the Argos look like the team that could go 0-18.
If MLSE wants to keep the upper east side closed, then tarp it. When C&S did this at the Rogers Centre it made a big difference. BMO is a fantastic venue to watch football. Sightlines are great. Parking and tailgating are fantastic. When the place is even half full there is a buzz (when the team is playing ok).
That would be good.
Hopefully, that includes signage on stadium.
Watching the indy race on the weekend TFC signs were regularly visible throughout the broadcast.
Yeah, sure glad they got rid of that bum Trestman, huh.
Does that include extending the end zones to the full 20 yards?
Doesn’t really matter to me, but there have been some Argo fans that continue to lose their minds over this shortcoming, so hope this will satisfy them.
Think it is more lipstick on a pig than changing the pig into a horse.
Well, one in particular.
I wish I could say you’re way off-base in your assessment.
There are occasional glimmers of competence, albeit few and far between. At least they got the ball into Walker’s hands last game. It might be time to cut Wilder loose though.
Agree, especially on Wilder.
I hear there’s a Best Abs contest somewhere in California that might interest him. No shirt required.
Would someone mind pasting the body of the text for us non-subscribers?
I’m posting the whole thing (loses some formatting). The Athletic is long-form journalism. No ads, no click bait, just really good sports writers who are given pretty free reign to write. It’s well worth the subscription price.
One-on-one: MLSE executive Bill Manning wants Toronto FC fans and Argonauts fans to get along
By Sean Fitz-Gerald Jul 15, 2019
It was still technically part of the workday when Bill Manning started, from his seat in the corner booth of a downtown Toronto pub, to explain what he had learned about the Toronto Argonauts. There was an analogy he heard the CFL commissioner use once, and he liked it.
“You have a 1974 Chevy, right? It’s sitting in the backyard, the tires are deflated, it’s got rust all over it, and you can’t sell it for a couple of thousand bucks,? he said. “He said, but if you restore that ’74 Chevy — you put on the chrome tires and you wax it up and paint it and do all that — it’s probably worth $75,000. Same car.?
The Argos had been tarnished over the years, Manning said, “with a bit of neglect.?
“How do you modernize that old ’74 Chevy?? he asked. “And that’s kind of what I’m looking at — and what MLSE is looking at — with the Argos.?
Manning, the amiable, energetic New Yorker with an aerodynamic haircut, has been president of both the Argos and Toronto FC for 18 months. Under the ownership of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, and with access to BMO Field, the Argos are arguably as stable as they have been in decades.
And yet …
The team is 0-4 to start the season, having already missed the playoffs last year. Toronto is the weakest market for attendance, too, with an average of only 16,734 fans through its first two home games.
“It’s been a challenge, I can’t lie,? Manning said. “But there’s no lack of desire. And I’m smart enough to know not to get involved in the football side.?
He has plans for the franchise, and he shared some of that vision — from hosting another Grey Cup to promoting a truce between Argos and TFC fans — over an hourlong conversation with The Athletic:
What is in store for the Argos?
Toronto has hosted the Grey Cup twice in the past seven years (in 2012 and in 2016) and has been host more times (48) than any other city. Manning would like to add to those numbers.
“I am talking to the league now about getting another Grey Cup,? he said. “I think that’s going to be really important for us, with MLSE’s full ownership behind it.?
He said the company would be looking to host the title game in 2022, 2023 or 2024. With enough time to plan, he said MLSE could build the week up “similar to when we had the NBA All-Star Game.?
In the nearer term, Manning wants to schedule as many home games as possible during the Canadian National Exhibition. The Argos drew a season-high crowd of 18,104 when they hosted the Lions during the fair last season. (They host Edmonton on Aug. 16, which is also opening day for the CNE.)
Manning also said improvements have been made for the players. The Argos hired a doctor to help not just with the athletes but also with their families. He said the request came in from general manager Jim Popp: “It’s a decision you approve because it’s the right thing to do for the team.?
Has the team made any progress?
There have been modest gains off the field, where Manning said the Argos saw a 5 percent increase in the number of paid tickets last year. Their turnstile count — the number of fans who actually turn up at the stadium to watch — has been up a few hundred fans a game.
Manning said he believed the Argos had a core group of between 8,000 and 10,000 fans who trek down to BMO Field week after week. As part of a five-year plan, the team will try to attract 500 new fans to that hardcore group every year. That would ultimately add 2,500 to its fan base.
“We’re going to win them over, one fan at a time,? he said. “We’re not going to go backwards. We’re going to go forwards, and these are little victories that we’re getting along the way.?
The Argos have the lowest average ticket price in the league this year, with the average seat costing around $35, he said. (The team is blocking off the upper level of seats on the east side of the stadium with the hope of creating a more intimate atmosphere in the remaining sections.)
“There’s this stigma of the Argos, that they’re your dad or your grandfather’s team,? he said. “What we found last year: When people come out, they enjoy themselves.?
(Todd Korol / Getty Images)
Can rival fan bases bury a grudge?
Toronto FC fans did not want the Argos to move into BMO Field, which had been a soccer-specific stadium since the franchise began play in 2007. The soccer fans did not want the football players to chew up the field with their cleats and the grunting, growling mass of linemen.
Argos fans did not appreciate that. Embers of that feud can still be found on social media.
“I envision a world at BMO Field where both teams are on equal footing, and both teams are rooting for each other — and both fan bases,? said Manning. “As opposed to rooting against each other.?
Over the next five or six years, he said, BMO Field will “shift? to where it looks like the home of both teams, rather than the red-dominated home of TFC. He wants the Argos and TFC to co-exist as easily as the Leafs and Raptors do at Scotiabank Arena
Argos running back James Wilder Jr. was in the building for a recent soccer game. Manning said the football player was wearing a Toronto FC hat.
“We’re no longer fighting about who plays on what weekend,? he said. “We literally take both leagues, and we work together to have the best schedule we can for both teams.?
What about tailgating?
In 2016, their first season at BMO Field, the Argos introduced a radical (for Ontario) pregame concept: They invited fans to arrive early for a fully functional tailgate. Provincial liquor law forbade fans from bringing their own beer, but the Argos promised to sell it at reasonable prices.
It was expensive for the team, and the Argos curtailed the practice last year. (Some fans continued with their tailgating, on the sly.)
“What I have found, as being in sports, when you try to force things on a fan base, it rarely works,? said Manning. “A lot of it is organic.?
He is not dead-set on the concept.
“I’m not promoting it — I’d like to embrace it,? he said. “If we see it really coming, and people are doing it, we want to embrace it.?
What about that winless start?
It was a couple of days before the Argos played in Winnipeg, and Manning knew the team was heading into a rocky patch of the schedule. After opening the season 0-3, the team would venture into the West Division for three consecutive games, with stops in Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton.
“These three road games?? he said. “If we’re 1-5 coming out of these road games, I’m not surprised.?
Toronto was destroyed in the first half of its game in Winnipeg on Friday but landed a few punches in the second half to make the final score seem less gaudy. The Argos lost 48-21, falling to 0-4 for the first time since 1993.
Even if Popp and his head coach, Corey Chamblin, did come back to Toronto 1-5, Manning suggested their jobs would not be in any immediate danger.
“I want to give Jim and Corey every opportunity to succeed,? he said. “But I do challenge them. And Jim knows, and Corey knows. At the end of the day, that’s what our business is about.?
He said he believed in continuity, and he believed Popp and Chamblin would eventually get the team facing the right direction: “I would say my patience is long.?
“If we don’t make the playoffs this year, what I’m going to be looking at is, ‘How are we going down fighting?’? he said. “Are we getting beat 64-14 in the 17th or 18th game of the year? Or are we losing 18-17 on a fluke field goal? How are we going down fighting??
(Top photo: John E. Sokolowski / Getty Images)
Sean Fitz-Gerald is a senior national writer for The Athletic Canada. As a reporter, he has covered the Olympics, Pan American Games, Super Bowl, Grey Cup, NHL playoffs and the NBA playoffs. In 2015, he was named sportswriter of the year by Sports Media Canada. Follow Sean on Twitter @SeanFitz_Gerald.
^^^^^ Thanks for posting.
Much as we all want “free” content, journalism costs money to produce. It’s perfectly understandable that the Athletic requires payment, and IMO this site should not be circumventing that.
I know what you’re saying, but the truth is the Athletic got a free plug in the first post. I never heard of them before and wouldn’t know anything about them had the link not appeared here. I went to the site, but I would never pay a subscription for a site just for 1 story. Now that I’ve had an opportunity to “sample their wares,” chances are greater that I might be inclined to subscribe. So it’s an even trade. Also, it’s appearance here would likely be covered under Fair Use doctrine. But if the Athletic wanted to be jerky about it, the story is just one “Cease and Desist” letter away from vanishing here.