Some of the appeal of attending CFL games is it gives people a good excuse to get out of the house on a summer's evening and enjoy the nice weather with your friends. Many fans don't necessarily follow the league as closely as Americans follow the NFL, for instance. So the CFL should realize what niche they're filling and not try to copy the price gouging which is so rampant in most professional leagues today. The salaries many pro leagues pay their journeymen players is becoming obscene.
The Argos went a bit retro with the $4 beers at their popular pregame tailgate and Shipyard parties. Unfortunately the Argos might have came in a bit high in ticket prices and in-game concessions? The CFL should perhaps become more family-friendly and structure ticket prices more in-line with the salaries they pay their players...which are nowhere near NFL or NHL levels.
A little worrisome is the ballooning cost of running a CFL franchise, which averages around $22M a year (even with the Riders largess taken out of the equation). That's a long way from the traditional "20/20" CFL model...20,000 fans @ $20 net with $5M operating budgets.
I think Toronto fans are sending a message which could become trend...that they won't pay any price to watch your event and stop the price gouging.
One of the first fan backlashes was the Bills in Toronto series, which was widely projected to have tremendous appeal "with ticket lineups all the way to MLG" and Ted Rogers' infamous two-finger response to the number of Bills tickets under $100. The organizers thought ticket demand would be so high they'd need a lottery to award the Bills tickets, which averaged $500. But Rogers soon got a rude awakening and was forced to give 35% refunds to the thousands of fans who'd prepaid for tickets...lowering ticket prices each year of the 5-year series. The damage had already been done, with the final NFL game in Toronto having the lowest attendance of the Bills series and lowest in the NFL that season...poisoning the well for the NFL in Toronto, perhaps forever?
Attendance at TFC games has been pretty spotty recently too. Although the team announces regular "sellouts" the BMO grandstands often look half empty (with a sizeable portion of the sellout reportedly being corporate tickets being given away.)
I've also noticed in previous years the prime sideline seats at Raptor games are often virtually empty? I know they announce sellouts and will have a ready excuse for the no-shows, but I suspect they have a large segment of "corporate" ticket giveaways also. Although the emergence of the Raptors becoming a playoff team may have helped "fill-in" some of those sideline seats.
So Toronto's fan response to the Centennial classic or whatever, should not be that surprising given the trend in Toronto...and it's a message that other leagues should heed carefully.