CFL Attendance woes should ring alarm bells (The Sun)

[u]CFL Blitz: Early attendance woes should ring alarm bells[/u] KIRK PENTON, WINNIPEG SUN

[b]There is one notable statistic missing from the front page of the league's weekly statistics report this year, and there's probably a reason for that.

Attendance figures are conspicuously absent this year, but if I were the CFL I wouldn't want them out there, either. Through 20 games this season the average attendance at a CFL game is 24,756 spectators, which is worse than the mark was at this time last year.

What has to make that figure even more alarming to the folks in the CFL head office is only one contest has been played in a small stadium, and that was the Argos-Eskimos tilt in Fort McMurray, Alta., in Week 1. Last year the Tiger-Cats had to play their first three games at Ron Joyce Stadium, which seats only 6,000 people. Also, the Argos haven't played at Rogers Centre yet, and if anything is going to cause the CFL's average attendance to plummet, it's an Argos game at Rogers Centre.

In other words, this year's average attendance figure to this point of the season should automatically be bigger, but it isn't.

The RedBlacks said during their pre-season conference call that they expected to sell out every home game this season, but they were only able to accomplish that in their home-opener and haven't come close since.

The Eskimos usually have no trouble hitting the 30,000 mark at spacious Commonwealth Stadium but have yet to get there, and the fact only 20,085 showed up for B.C.'s home game against Toronto last Friday night must have sent chills down spines on the Left Coast.[/b]

[url=] ... larm-bells[/url]

That’s a simplistic viewpoint IMHO. The CFL may be moving in a new direction ie. stadiums of the future might be 15,000 max but over half of the seating and corporate luxury will be high end and the remaining low end ie. standing room and of course some seating with more of an emphasis on digital delivery of games delivering especially to high def screens. We can already see this in the smaller stadiums being built. The 50,000 seaters will be a thing of the past but that doesn’t necessarily mean at all doom and gloom for the league or any league.

The beauty with small quite “high end” type stadiums is it could allow more cities to enter the league. As I’ve said a few times, leagues that rely on joe blow large attendances are probably going to be in trouble. The future is pack a high end punch in a small package and concentrate on delivering games digitally via every digital medium possible.

Pick and choose cable coming down the stream is very important as many people will choose not to subscribe to any package that requires sports for the many non-sports people. Right now even non sports people with basic cable packages carrying TSN and Sportsnet are paying for the Blue Jays and CFL as examples and soon they will have a choice to not do so from what I’ve been reading. Non sports fans are subsidizing pro sports in effect. Live sports is the most expensive aspect of cable from what I’ve read.

Quick! Put your heads in the sand.

I think it's just a spillover from last years bad season - the fans decided not to renew and they are doing the "wait and see" thing. Notice that the attendance goes hand in hand with the TV ratings. TV ratings down so far and attendance down too.

The other side of the coin is how has ticket pricing increases compared to the percentage of a decrease in attendance. Ticket revenue is better indication of the league's health.

At the same time, lower entry level price-point is needed to get families and young people coming out IMO. With the Argos lowest price category at 32.00 before fees, it's hard to get families and people in general to buy in on a lark.

I'm not worried at this time, but I'm curious to the league plans are to try and reserve the trend.

He's correct , it is troubling . All these excuses on this topic is comical . The CFL has always had fickle attendance and we are going through one of those cycles. Everybody thinks the Argos will be magic at BMO . Why ? Nobody cares about them now . No guarentees at BMO , it will be better.Not like they will be getting 40 k a game . BC in trouble , SK won't be selling out by the end of this year, Bomber fans have supported bad football for a long time ,like no other fans in this league .That will soon change if this season goes off the rails , it's teetering ! Calgary and Edmomton don't come close to 30 k any more . Hamilton still has tickets available for their home opener , that should have been sold out months ago. Montreal is struggling to get 21 k . The list of excuses are so lame .... Too hot ,cold, too far,dome, not a dome, blue jays ,Rogers,immigrants,Braily,Panam games, it's summer people off to the lake, it's fall .. Who's going to sit in the cold !! If a child came with this list of excuses to not to do something ....they would be told to suck it up and do it ! Teams all need to market better and the league too. This attitude of 19k is fine .....we have TV money is a dangerous thing .

I think over all you are correct.

In such a tiny stadium, with really only 22.5k seats which does not include luxury boxes, THF should have the whole season sold out before it began. And now it looks as though not even one full season into the new stadium, and the will not be able to sell it out.

Realistically they have only had 2 full capacity games I think and those may be the only sell out games.

The CFL just needs to be exciting again, there are too many entertainment options available to settle for boring flag filled sloppy football ala 2014.

But that doesn't explain the drop in TV ratings too. You would think that the fans that decided not to buy tickets because they are expensive would therefore watch at home. Both attendance and TV ratings down. It all goes back to the 2014 season, many fans turned off and it's going to take entertaining football this year to bring them back next year.

As was mentioned above, fans are willing to pay a lot of money for tickets. Look at Hamilton, a $50 ticket gets you in the end zone. Seats from the goal line and up go from $53 to $108, which makes the majority of tickets in the $80 range.
Then you have them 1,000 or so $250 Club Seats and then the Private Suites and with the increase in the TV revenue of $2 Million. It's the same thing with Ottawa, they can move into new stadiums and charge more for fewer but better seats.
Hamilton and Ottawa can make a lot more money moving from basic 29k stadiums with bench seats to 24k stadiums with nice seats and luxury boxes.

But I am surprised that there are seats still available in Hamilton for the home opener, them seats should have been snapped up after the Ticats win in Sask. It's the first official game in the new stadium and the home opener. It's a long weekend but the game is played at 7PM Monday.

Lots and lots of G.C tickets still for sale as well ......some may say, "lots of time yet to sell them" , but at inflated prices and demand almost nil at present ....cause for concern for sure.

The game is not being grown smartly or strategically with a view to bringing in younger generations. It's an old boys club run in the style of the old 6-team NHL, with a mafioso group of owners who don't have the vision to do what's necessary to grow the game. So they play hardball with the players, refuse to cut them into the revenue that would allow teams to practice more per week and improve the on-field product, and sit on their hands while Canadian tax money is used to develop rugby video games instead of developing a video game themselves. They have made no move to improve the god-awful coverage of the CFL that TSN has foisted on us for years, no attempt to bring in announcers who know and care about the game. Rod Black has been calling CFL games for over a decade, people! That is beyond pathetic.

This league will be on life support in a couple of decades when its current fan base is retired.

I would agree with others that the bad quality of play last season hurt ratings. Plus with more people cutting the cord, TV ratings will take a hit, but I would like to see streaming stats to see if anything has been offset by the lower TV viewers.

Also, I would like to see how the ratings change with the Pan Am Games being over since those ratings have been better than expected....I tuned into them more too

Overall, I wonder if part of the attendance and presentation decline is also the league resting on it's laurels after coming from the deathbed in the 90's to the healthier numbers, late 2000s and early 2010s. Hoping these recent stats can light that fire again

Realistically I don't think many people pay full price. The have had a TON of deals to buy tickets for August games. There are $20 gold seat ticket deals, $35 gold seats deals, $25 silver seat deals.

Money is not the issue. It looks like Ticats are already getting back to the giveaways in order to get a somewhat decent crowd.

People are getting very choosy with how they spend any discretional money they have and their time. I think this is an issue for many people, it sure is with me. The product is as exciting as ever for me and not an issue for this guy. I do watch all or as many games as I can on TV and the TV product with high def and more and more people getting high def TVs is an issue, it's fantastic really this high def with surround sound. Almost like being there.

The sky is falling, the sky is falling!

I'll worry if this continues next year; theres no way to deny that last year's football was of bad quality....

Why just next year? This is a trend going back to 2010 I believe. Why is the 5th year of declines worth worrying about but not 4 years? Not sure I understand.

CFL isn't replacing old dying fans, there are a lot of reasons for that some they can do something about some not so much. Its cyclical but hardly a survival issue.

The most recent 'peak' was 2012 which was before the Ti-Cats started playing in smaller sized stadiums.

Later this year and with the Argos ownership in for next year, I think the following season will determine if this is big trend but agreed it's not off to a roaring start.

The sad part is that even with 9 teams and 81 games, the CFL is not on pace to hit 2 million fans this season.. The league used to do that with 8 teams and 72 games.

Montreal used to sell out 20,202 and now are drawing a little over that, so that's a wash, IMO.

Hamilton at IWS was probably averaging what they do now at THF, so another wash IMO.

Ottawa didn't exist but they have a very respectable average, higher than than renegades in their last season. A wash, IMO.

Toronto's average has plummeted under Braley's watch. This is the main reason for decline on the overall average. Don't forget, they played in front of flies in Fort McMurray. Didn't help the average of the league.

Calgary's attendance has dropped off in recent years, due to an outdated stadium.
BC's attendance has dropped off since Bobby Ackles died leaving Braley to ruin the club as he has done in Toronto.

2 of the 3 problems the league faces with attendance are directly due to Braley.
He won't be be problem in Toronto next year.