Good piece by Steve Simmons:
Nothing like Grey Cup week - T.O. ready to party?
"The party to kick off Grey Cup week in Toronto was cancelled yesterday because of inclement weather.
Never mind that Grey Cup games have been played in mud, fog and rain and Regina -- but here in Toronto, we play our football indoors now, nice-and-cosy-like, with the roof closed and the temperature controlled.
"Well at least we know the game won't be cancelled," said Brad Watters, chairman of the Toronto Grey Cup committee, and man in charge of this attempted miracle.
You see, the truth is, Grey Cup week doesn't look much like Toronto, doesn't act much like Toronto, doesn't smell much like Toronto.
Grey Cup week is fun and silly and frivolous. Grey Cup week is about football revellers wearing the jerseys of their favourite team with the names "Drunk" and "Drunker" on the back. Grey Cup week is all about excess -- eating too much, weighing too much, drinking too much, staying up too late.
Grey Cup week is everything the Toronto Film Festival isn't -- it is user friendly, it is accessible, it is reasonably inexpensive as big events go, and you don't have to dine at Sotto Sotto or Spuntini to run into stars as huge (and we're not talking waistline) as Danny McManus.
One quick Grey Cup secret: Either McManus has a lot of people who look like him or he just happens to be everywhere during Grey Cup week. You go to a Super Bowl and you will never trip over Dan Marino or John Elway. Hang around the Spirit of Edmonton room long enough and McManus is certain to drop by.
The real challenge for Watters and friends: Sell the tickets and make people in Toronto care.
Right now, one may be easier than the other. Tickets are moving at a brisker rate than expected. The event part -- now that is the real concern for a guy who found a niche market for a pro lacrosse team in a city that usually detests niche sports.
"Let's be honest, a lot of the events of Grey Cup, I hate to say it, revolve around drinking. And I'm not about to put lipstick on a pig and dress it up. It is what is," said Watters, who was once sold a bill of goods by the Canadian Football League called the Renegades and has the debt to prove it.
"The real challenge for us is to embrace both sides, the grassroots Grey Cup goer and then soup it up for those have never experienced this before. We're not about to make it more than it is, though. We want that Grey Cup feeling in Toronto.
"We're going to keep it central. A lot of events will be right at the Convention Centre. Everything will be going on within five blocks of Rogers Centre. You should be able to take part and never take a cab."
Except maybe the cab ride home.
Yesterday, Watters was prepared to announce some of the events that will be part of Grey Cup Week. But those announcements have been delayed by weather and not necessarily lack of interest.
Lack of interest is what happened the previous time Toronto attempted to join the rest of Canada. We failed miserably at it. Way back in 1992, the house was papered, the bars were empty and Doug Flutie put on a show and nobody cared. That was 15 years and about 15 Argos owners ago.
This is a new team and a new time and a hope this city can find a way to care about something Americans don't care about that isn't the Leafs. This isn't Super Bowl week and it's a good thing for that.
Super Bowl week is a wonderful corporate schmooze for those who can afford the high-priced tickets and higher-priced events. It ain't for Doug and Mary from Edmonton.
Toronto probably would like Super Bowl week. We can be that phony if called upon. Question is: Can we actually have fun for five days in November, because people make Grey Cup what it can be, not the events themselves?
Much is planned, although still a secret because of snow and sleet. An reunion of old Argonauts -- maybe the 1971 team -- will take place. There also will be some events that surround the Vanier Cup, which will be played the day before Grey Cup.
In the beginning and in the end, the whole project is a monumental challenge. Even Argos co-owner David Cynamon is into the spirit of it.
At the most recent Grey Cup in Winnipeg, the well-known David Asper held a media party at his home that was, to say the least, fabulous. Cynamon is promising something even better.
Now that is the kind off challenge we welcome. Just so long as it isn't cancelled because of weather conditions."
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