CFL Attendance

When I posed the question about expansion to ten teams in the CFL, one of the things that came out was attendance and support of the various CFL teams. In the US, football is our most popular sport, even though baseball was invented in the US and is classified as our "National Pastime". I know we have about 275 million people in the US and thirty-two teams in the NFL, but in each city where there is a team, the stadium capacity is at least 60,000 and for the most part attendance is at least at 95% capacity. In the second half of the season for teams out of the playoff picture, their attendance does go down, but a bad crowd under these circumstances would be 40,000.
When I hear people in this forum talking about crowds of 25,000-30,000 being a good turnout, I am really surprised because, as an American who really likes the NFL, I enjoy the CFL alot also. My reasons for enjoying the CFL are the rule differences from the NFL, that create excitement and make the game enjoyable to watch. Why doesn't that translate into more fans attending the CFL games, especially in cities like Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver, where there should be 50,000 people at every game they play. The CFL rules make the game uniquely Canadian, which is something the people of Canada should be proud of. I know there are American players in the CFL who are stars in the league, but the same can be said for the NHL too, and attendance there is always high. (I know it's the National game of Canada). The CFL is a product of Canada, and to have about 20,000 people at a game in Ottawa, the nation's capitol, is very surprising to me. What can be done to improve attendance to where it should be, so everyone can enjoy the excitement of the CFL, and in turn solidifying all the CFL franchises?
Thanks for letting me rant a little, and throw this topic out for discussion.

You've asked the 64 million dollar question, Spike. Got any ideas? IMO, this country is simply not as sports crazy as the U.S. of A.

u can blame CFL mis-management for that one.

they do good for 10 years, then do horrible for 10 years, then have to rebuild thier fan base all over again. ( good in 80's, bad in 90's, now good in 2000's )

they're on the rise now, so watch the attendance increase over the next few long as they dont fire commish, TOM WRIGHT....if they fire him, then they'll go down again.

as for montreal, thier stadium is ONLY 20 202, so they can't draw a 50 000 they are reconfiguring the stadium in 3 years to make it a 25 000 stadium. they play playoff games in the 50 000 seat BIG O....but that place is a dump, so they ONLY play there in the last reg.season home game and playoffs.

  1. The U.S. , has 10 TIMES the CANADIAN population.[only 32 million people]

CALIFORNIA , has MORE THAN 2 times as many people as CANADA, does.

That is why in music a GOLD CD , in the U.S. needs to sell 500,000 copies.


  1. Places like EDMONTON use to have 55,000 seasons ticket holders.BUT they took that for granted.As did all CFL teams during the CFLS GOLDEN years.

  2. The CFL has NEVER had the kind of MARKETING MONEY that the NFL has.

  3. Lack of community involment hurt tickets sales , in some markets.

  4. Canadians have a HUGE inferority complex , as we unfairly compare every thing to the U.S. TORONTO , and the HAMILTON area seem to be the worse , for that kind of mentality. :roll:

  5. Most of our media thinks that everything CANADIAN made....from music to the CFL, SUCKS. :roll:

SAD , but true!

Don't forget that its hard to go to any sports if you have a family! even if the tickets were 99$ (like in Ottawa), a family of four would still have to shell out at least 500$ just for food, drinks, parkuing, etc. So, if you have a city of ABOUT 100,000 (Ottawa + Gatineau + others), having 25,000 is actually pretty good! (also, that's about the average for Sens game, if I'm not mistaken)

Tickets are cheap, Even in Toronto, one of the mot expensive, you can get good tickets for $25 a peice, or get 2 decent tickets,and a T-shirt for 20 bucks at Dominion

There are a lot of people in Canada, especially the big cities, that are NFL fans and consider the CFL 2nd best or inferior, so you don't get the whole city behind you like NFL cities do.
The people who post on this site are strong CFL fans,and we know and appreciate how great the CFL game and players are. We love the CFL rules and the speed and excitement of the game. The NFL fans and some of the big media outlets in Canada won't even give the CFL a look and don't realize what they are missing. We all know that the NFL gets first choice of players and that CFL teams have to field 19 Canadians, but us CFL fans know how great the game is, plus you get to cheer for your local club.

Canada only has a population of 30 million, so those numbers are solid.

true look at Canada pop. but its still solid numbers! :smiley:

Hellothere hit the nail on the head with point #5 . Atleast for alot of people this is true, IMO. Those people are image fans , and they percieve the NFL to be cool so therefore in their eyes the CFL doesn't cut muster . It was much more so in the 90's , now the Cfl is coming back somewhat . Our cities are still big enough to put 50,000 in the stadiums.
I disagree with the notion that it was mismanagment that caused this . There were alot of guys , if it wasn't "big league" they would have nothing to do with it. I still know people who ridicule the CFL as being "bush" and inferior.
Of course they don't ever watch the game because of this , but they just "know" it's "sloppy " football anyway. Nothing will convince them otherwise.
Sad , but true.

There's also the gambling on the NFL games that is huge in Canada. Radio stations, newspapers all talk about NFL point spreads all the time, and predictions with experts and gambling and it's huge. I think that is why the CFL added Bowmans as a sponsor.

how true!

Just the other day on "CH Live at 5:30" they were asking people on the streets of Hamilton which is better, CFL or NFL. I'm sure they skewed the results, but the three people they showed all said that the NFL is better. And their reasons were stupid! Like "the NFL is more exciting". Come on. I just kept asking myself, has this person ever seen a CFL game, or are they just going by what they're being told by their friends who also have never seen a CFL game?

The NFL has marketed itself so well, and has driven the notion that the NFL is so superior to any other alternative, that even we north of the border have begun to believe it. For twenty years, there was no marketing in the CFL. During the 60s and 70s, people packed the stadiums across the league because it was part of their national identity. In the 80s, while new fans were growing up under the misconception that the NFL is the best -- and only -- football in the world, the CFL continued to expect "national identity" to be enough. Of course it wasn't, and the NFL won the battle for the hearts of young Canadians. I remember when people would snicker when I mentioned that I was a CFL fan. When I worked briefly in Ottawa in '92, I worked with a guy from London (Ontario) who told me that I was the first CFL fan he'd ever met! That's crazy!

The CFL has learned to market itself, thanks in no small part to the NFL itself. That agreement -- the same one that has players trying out down south in their option year -- has led to the resurgence of the CFL in Canada. As the attendance continues to rise across the country, CFL games become "cool" (I guess the kids still use that word :slight_smile: ) again. Next time you're at a game, look around at all the young people that are there. Teenagers, kids, and families, all mixed in with us old fogies.

The league has really learned how to market itself, and is doing everything (w)right now.

The US has 10 times our population, and the NFL has about 3.5 times as many teams as the CFL. So you would expect NFL teams to get about 3 times as many fans as CFL teams. So a game with 25,000 up here would be roughly equivalent to a game with 75,000 in the States.

And keep in mind that the stadiums up here are smaller. While you expect NFL teams to have 95% of their seats filled, Montreal's Molson Stadium has been 100% filled for years, and Ivor Wynne has been 95-96% filled in these past two seasons.

Ottawa's attendance this year is a problem, but on the whole attendance in Canada is very good, and is getting better every year. Though we will never get the 80,000 per game that some teams get down south.

Hey Spike I gotta ask
You writing a book or what?

I don' t live in Canada but how strong was their marketing last year when there were no NHL games. Last year was a golden opportunity for CFL to market itself.

There you go, telling an American that Ottawa only has 100,000 people. I hope it was a typo plbr, as we have well over 1,000,000 in the Ottawa area.

And just to let you know USAspike, Canada's tax rates are astronomical compared to the U.S. That's why everyone here in Canada has universal medicare. And to the majority of Canadians, they would rather pay high taxes for that social safety net as opposed to flying by the seat of your pants as most people do in the States, then go broke when they get sick.

So our priorities are not the same as in the U.S. We have less disposable income here in Canada than Americans do.

Must be a typo... if you get around 20k to the game... isn't that about 20% of the local population...

True about taxes in Canada... In the US... they need more money, they just roll the presses and print more...

So far 43 % of our taxes go directly into our healthcare system. With the baby-boomers getting older, that proportion is expected to reach 58% by 2015.

See why we have basically no army and crappy roads?

Don't forget our navy 3/10 - I once saw three dinghys on the North Saskatchewan. . .kidding, kidding. . .

BigDave. You are a genius. You are dead-on right about everything you said. Very insightful, very intelligent response. Thank you, from another canadian, for giving such as a complete answer to an american CFL fan. You make all of us (native CFL fans) look good.