There has been a trend over many years to mitigate the natural advantages IWS has historically had as an imposing and intimidating place for opposing teams to play in.
For me, you can track the slow decline when the west end zone bleachers were taken down. I remember going to games in the late seventies -- sub-par Ticat teams in that era -- and you couldn't hear yourself think. The enclosed fans-on-top-of-us feeling weighed on opponents and gave the fan experience a dynamism that is light years ahead of the piped-in passivity of today.
When those west end stands came down, the oomph factor ebbed and flowed with the on-field success of the team. You didn't hear the same roar in the crowd, even when the team was in the playoffs and getting 24,000-plus for big tilts.
After the 1989 season, it really became tenuous as fan support teetered even more precariously than the 14,000 diehard daze I can testify to during parts of the eighties.
A horseshoe layout with a Lite Brite scoreboard and a poor team on basically spraypainted concrete isn't a recipe for getting one's neck hair to stand on end...
In recent years, we've seen and heard the Beat The Fans Over The Head With Amplified Simon Says Quality Cajoling And P.A. Buckshooting Industries approach. The Jason Farr fare of 'FIRSTTTTTT DOWNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN TIGERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR-CATTTTTTTTTTS !!!!" when the team is tanking it by 30 interspersed with "MAKE SOME NOISE!" and electronic droning of "DEFENNNNNNNNCE" is the kind of mix that gets fans a little bit backed up on their benches. Take out Pigskin Pete this year and have what we have on the field and, well, you get fan kibbitzing about Wal-Mart Back To School instead of actively engaged fans into the game.
Even in the worst Buffalo Bills games I've witnessed at Rich/Ralph Wilson, there is a cultivated fan pulse. The choice of up-tempo music, the use of the SCOREBOARD to engineer chants as opposed to a thirdrate cattle call-type urging track, etc. gets the young fans concentrating more on the game and allows everyone to feel some resonating energy they themselves generate.
Ivor Wynne at its best blows any other facility in the CFL out of the water when the fans are into it, IMHO. When the fans are on top of you, it t'aint a fun place to visit as an opposing team. In lieu of enclosing the field on all sides with stands, the team has to turn the experience into a FOOTBALL LAIR and not some a la carte family outing to break the Madden fan audio monotony. LOL
The team can cement the next generation of fans not just by improving the on-field performance of the team (which is a must). It has to develop an activated fanbase that brings its lungs and feet to engage the opponents of that day as one big organism. Celebrity Peteing and other packaged palliatives won't cut it.
Oski Wee Wee,