From Kirk Penton
Tiger-Cats expect to be in the black for first time in decades
[b]The last time the Hamilton Tiger-Cats are believed to have turned a profit, Angelo Mosca had just hung up his cleats.
That’s why this could be a historic season in the Hammer.
Ticats president and CEO Scott Mitchell is under the impression that the last time the organization made money was 40 years ago, in the mid-1970s. Thanks to the brand new Tim Hortons Field, where this year the Ticats will play a full season for the first time, owner Bob Young should finally be in the black.
“It’s been well over three decades and potentially four that we’ve had a facility in operation that you could claim as sustainable and hopefully profitable,” Mitchell said Monday during a league sponsored conference call. “Everybody understands that’s the reason why Bob Young got involved in this thing, was to get the franchise to a point of stability. He’s been an unbelievable owner.”
Mitchell said the Tiger-Cats would have posted a profit last year had they been at Tim Hortons Field for the entire season as expected, but construction woes forced them to McMaster’s Ron Joyce Stadium for the first two months of the campaign.
New stadiums bring many new revenue streams, including concerts and expensive seating opportunities, and Tim Hortons Field is no exception. While he wouldn’t reveal the number of season tickets that have been sold, Mitchell expects the park to be sold out for every home game.
“Our expectation is we will have a sold out season at Tim Hortons Field, which has a capacity of about 24,000 people,” Mitchell said.
And if the last couple of seasons are any indication, fans of the franchise that currently has the second longest Grey Cup drought should have plenty of reasons to cheer – and that’s not just because the Tabbies play remarkably well at Tim Hortons Field and remain undefeated there with a 7-0 mark, including playoffs. The Tabbies have represented the East in the Grey Cup the last two years, and there’s little to suggest they’re not going back again this year. They have kept most of their core together, their coaching staff is exactly the same, and there are huge question marks with the other three teams in the East.
The Ticats were 9-9 last year, but they were without starting quarterback Zach Collaros for six games due to a concussion he suffered in Week 2. Collaros is going into his second season as a CFL starter, and general manager and head coach Kent Austin saw plenty of growth in their primary pivot at the team’s mini-camp earlier this month.
“You could see his understanding of the offence, his decision making was quicker,” Austin said. "It was a higher execution level, meaning his decisions were more proper.
“… He’s a natural leader. He’s a winner. His teammates love him. He’s very endearing to his teammates because he doesn’t complain or make an excuse about anything.”
The Ticats lost only two starters from last year’s Grey Cup game, which they lost 20-16 to the Calgary Stampeders at B.C. Place. Cornerback Delvin Breaux left for the NFL’s New Orleans Saints, while Canadian receiver Sam Giguere departed for the Montreal Alouettes via free agency.
Meanwhile, receiver-returner Brandon Banks, receivers Luke Tasker and Bakari Grant, running back Nic Grigsby, defensive end Justin Hickman, offensive linemen Tim O’Neill and linebacker Taylor Reed all re-signed with the club despite having the opportunity to be free agents in February.
“We’ve got a good, young competitive team that has a lot of experience together now,” Austin said. “The evidence of that is we had less changes, especially in the free agency period, than we did previously. That’s a testament to really settling in on players that we feel can compete and win football games for us.”
It won’t be a completely smooth road for the Ticats this season, as the Pan Am Games have them on the road for four games until their home opener on Aug. 3.
O-LINE GETS A BOOST
The Ticats have one of the best collections of Canadian talent in the league, but their offensive line in the last couple of years has been unstable.
They are hoping they have found two ways to solidify the line a little more this season.
One is the return of left guard Peter Dyakowski, who tore up his knee so badly in the 2013 Grey Cup that he missed all of last season.
“Peter’s doing really well,” Ticats head coach and GM Kent Austin said Monday. "He participated in our (mini-camp). He’s in as good a shape as I’ve seen him since I’ve been here. He’s slimmed down. He’s very strong, as everybody knows, already naturally. He’s moving very, very well.
“He’s worked really hard at getting prepared for the season. We’re really proud of him. Good for him, and good for us as a result. We expect him to play well.”
The second part of the offensive line equation comes in the form of Ryan Bomben, whom the Ticats acquired on draft day from the Montreal Alouettes for the eighth and 24th overall selections.
“Ryan gives us an opportunity to change our ratio,” Austin said. “We’ll see how it plays out, but he’s not just another starter for us up front. He has versatility to move and play three different positions. So in the event that there’s injuries, which we all experience, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to change our ratio, as he can pop out to tackle or move down and snap the ball at centre.”
If the Tabbies can start three Canadians on the offensive line, it will give them more continuity at positions on both sides of the ball. It could also allow them to start just one Canadian receiver after they lost free agent acquisition Spencer Watt to a season-ending Achilles tendon injury he suffered during a recent workout.[/b][url=http://www.torontosun.com/2015/05/25/tiger-cats-expect-to-be-in-the-black-for-first-time-in-decades]http://www.torontosun.com/2015/05/25/ti ... in-decades[/url]