In a surprise announcement, MLSE is the proud new owner of the Toronto Argonauts. It was previously owned by the Kilmer Group (Larry Tanenbaum) and Bell Canada, but now it's owned by the Kilmer Group, Bell Canada, and Rogers. The Argos join the Maple Leafs, Raptors, TFC and Marlies as MLSE properties.
My initial thoughts are that this is very good for the Argos. Let's face it, the Argos and CFL were all but ignored by Rogers properties like Sportsnet and The Fan 590, and now they'll get more exposure on those key sports channels. It will also help the Argos to have the weight of MLSE's sports marketing expertise behind them. I envision Argos tickets bundled with Maple Leafs playoff tickets and the like. The Argos need to draw better at BMO Field and this will help.
My next thoughts are of the Blue Jays. David Shoalts one explained the accounting advantages if Rogers owned 37.5% of the Blue Jays as opposed to the current 100%. If MLSE were to purchase the Blue Jays from Rogers, they'd have a monopoly on all major Toronto sports franchises. I don't know if this is a good thing or not.
The sale is expected to close in January 2018.
I was at BMO Field for the Argonaut's Eastern Conference Final against the Saskatchewan Roughriders earlier today. It was so much fun watching a great game in great conditions with a big crowd. 24,929 were there, the biggest crowd to ever watch the Argos at BMO Field.
The Argos won with a last minute touchdown that happened right in front of Bob Willette and me. If you were one of the millions watching on TSN, you might have seen me celebrating.
Before the thrilling ending, we got some face time with the biggest celebrity around.
Grey Cup bound!
Thanks to this recent Toronto Mike'd guest, I took the entire family to this afternoon's Argos game. It was my first Argos game at BMO Field.
Normally I bike to BMO Field, but since all four kids were going, we took the Go Train. it was the very first time in my life I took the Go Train and damn was that slick. A comfy six minute ride from Mimico to Exhibition couldn't have been more convenient.
By the opening kickoff, one thing was crystal clear. Argos games look a million times better at BMO Field than at the dome. The weather was perfect and the field looked great. This is a fantastic venue for football.
You don't get the energy from the crowd you get from TFC supporters, but it was fun with so many Roughrider fans wearing green. The crowd was pretty thin at kickoff but looked much better by the end of the first quarter. There's no denying it, though. This team has a serious attendance problem when they can't come close to filling BMO for a 4pm game on a beautiful Saturday.
When Mike Hogan heard I was coming to the game, he invited me up to the booth to see him and Jeff Johnson calling the game for TSN Radio. I managed to get media passes for me and my oldest son and we peeked in every room. Here are shots from the TSN Radio booth.
Here's a peek into the TSN booth.
I wanted to say hi to Don Landry, but they keep him locked up in this room throughout the game.
And finally, here's where the press sits at BMO Field. I'm told Sean Fitz-Gerald was there, but I didn't see him. There was coffee and food. I did not partake.
In the end, the Argos lost a close one, but it was a fun game in a great stadium. I really hope the Argos can fix their aforementioned attendance problem because they've been here since 1873 and I'd like them to stick around.
It was the very first pro sports event I've attended with all four of my kids and a good time was had by all. Thanks, Jackie.
I've been blogging here for 14 years, and during that time there were some pretty low times in Toronto sports. Just four years ago I wrote this about the new bottom for Toronto sports teams. Things were very, very bad for the big five.In 2016, things got a whole lot better. In fact, there's something great to report about every team in the big five not nicknamed the Argos. Although we didn't win a championship, we were close!
Ten years after their birth, TFC hosted the MLS Cup final, losing a heartbreaker to Seattle. That second leg against Montreal in the semi-final was absolutely thrilling.
Toronto Blue Jays
For the second year in a row, the Blue Jays played in the ALCS. Unlike the hype train of 2015, this didn't seem likely in September as we sputtered into the playoffs, but an Edwin walk-off against Baltimore in the wildcard game and a sweep of the Rangers in the ALDS helped recapture the joy of the previous year.
For the first time in franchise history, the Raptors won a best-of-seven playoff series. And we did it twice! We even took two games against Cleveland in the conference finals, making this far and away the best Raptors season, ever.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Last season, the Leafs were bad. Very, very bad. This is a good thing, as it helped us land Auston Matthews with the first overall pick in the draft. Now, with Matthews, Marner and Nylander, the future actually looks bright and the present is a lot of fun, too.
Let's not ruin this entry with an Argos update.
In addition to successful developments for the big four teams in this city, Toronto hosted the Grey Cup, World Cup of Hockey and World Juniors. 2016 was a very good year for Toronto sports. Let's hope for a championship in 2017.
I'm writing this entry out of frustration. My pal Freddie P thinks I'm "a fool" because I told him TFC was more popular in Toronto than the Argos. In my humble opinion, TFC is more popular than the Argonauts in this city. Fred, obviously, strongly disagrees.
Fred bases 100% of his argument on the fact the Argos get higher national television ratings. He has no other metric to point to, and he's correct in that an Argos game will be credited with many more eyeballs than a TFC match across this fine nation. But those numbers are national in a ratings system that heavily favours an older demographic. Every other metric, anecdotal evidence and common sense tells you Fred is dreaming in technicolour.
Very quickly, in this moment of frustration, I tweeted the following:
In Toronto, which team has the largest fan base? TFC or Argos? My friend is adamant the Argos do and I'm adamant he's lost his mind.— Toronto Mike (@torontomike) October 27, 2016
There were many responses validating my opinion.
@torontomike I respect the Argos history and wish they had more support but there is no comparison. TFC by miles.— James (@JamesD_TO) October 27, 2016
@torontomike i think your friend might be trolling you. And lost his mind.— Joe Manocchio (@joelapalooza) October 27, 2016
@torontomike He's lost his mind. Just look at fan attendance for one. Then ask abt season subscribers.— Francis Low (@frlowca) October 27, 2016
@torontomike if your friend thinks Borden is still Prime Minister then it will all add up to you.— Justin Clevett (@Clevareno) October 27, 2016
@torontomike TFC by far— Jason (@JHagholm1) October 27, 2016
@torontomike its for sure TFC— Tim (@tokum23) October 27, 2016
@torontomike Toronto FC. The Argos have lost their appeal in this city.— Andrew Sheehy (@andrewsheehy228) October 27, 2016
@torontomike He has lost his mind. The Argos and the CFL do not exist in Toronto. TSN CFL ratings are not coming from the GTA.— Mark Hill (@Inhocmark) October 27, 2016
@torontomike No contest - TFC— MattCundill (@MattCundill) October 27, 2016
There were a couple of tweets referring to the aforementioned national television ratings, which is undeniable, but the overwhelming majority think Fred has lost his marbles.
In Toronto, the 416 Toronto with John Tory as mayor, which team has more fans: TFC or Argos?
In the world of professional sports, I'm focused on the Jays vs. Red Sox this afternoon. A win and we'll host the wild card game Tuesday. This is a big game.
I was just biking with my two older kids and we were chatting about the Jays. My 14-year old son is more excited about Auston Matthews' debut with the Leafs tonight. My daughter will "follow" the game on Instagram. This led to each of us ranking Toronto's big 6 teams in terms of personal preference.
My 14-Year Old Son's Rankings
My 12-Year Old Daughter's Rankings
Straight from the mouths of babes, as they say. Despite the fact I watch most Jays games and talk about the team often, the team is a distant third on each of their lists.
You can lead a horse to water...
Television ratings are a very inexact science. Radio ratings, too, but this is about Monday's CFL matchup between the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Ti-Cats. It was the Labour Day Classic, so you knew many across this country would be tuning in.
A small collective of unknown people across this country carry PPM devices to record what they watch. Then, this number is extrapolated to estimate the number of viewers in total. It's like polling, and seems to discount streamers and such. Like I said, it's a very inexact science.
I follow Steve Simmons on Twitter, and saw this tweet from him. 2.9 million people tuned in, he wrote. That's an incredible number!
2.9 million was the audience on Labour Day for the Argos-Ticats game on @TSN_Sports. So, yes, people are indeed watching the CFL.— steve simmons (@simmonssteve) September 7, 2016
Maybe Steve was wrong? After all, he's been wrong before. A little digging reveals the source of this information. The official CFL account had tweeted that 2.9 million Canadians had tuned in to watch a regular season CFL match. Wow.
But wait, there's more. Arash Madani, who covers the CFL for Rogers Sportsnet, claims the actual number is substantially less. He has it at 902,000. That's a lot of people watching the CFL, but a far cry from 2.9 million. Arash claims this is the actual number.
Want accurate TV numbers for the #CFL on Labour Day? Argos-Ticats did 902,000 on English TV. The Stamps-Esks did 781,000.— Arash Madani (@ArashMadani) September 8, 2016
In actuality, no #CFL game has done a million viewers yet this season. One did in 2015 and that was Labour Day.— Arash Madani (@ArashMadani) September 8, 2016
So, what gives? Why is the CFL tweeting 2.9 million watched if the ratings tell us 902,000 watched?
I've spoken with the CFL's Director of Communications. He's explained the discrepancy. The average audience was 902,000, and a total of 2.9 million Canadians watched some of the coverage.
In my opinion, this wasn't clear in the tweets from @CFL or Steve Simmons, but Arash is playing a little dumb here himself. He likely knew exactly where the CFL got the 2.9 million figure.
It's more Rogers vs. Bell games. Grab some popcorn and hear me and Dave Hodge talk about it here.
I feel I need to preface this entry by stating I'm not a CFL-hater. I was at Pinball's last game, I took my son to see Ricky Williams and I generally root for the Argonauts' success. The fact is, my overall interest in both the CFL and NFL has waned over the past decade. I've learned I'm not really a football guy.
Periodically, as discussed on my podcast, someone will argue with me that the Argos are more popular in Toronto than the Raptors. Almost all evidence points to the opposite, and when I'd mention the fact the Argos struggle mightily at the gate, I'd always be told "wait until they're at BMO!".
Well, the Argos played their second regular season game at BMO Field last night in front of 12,373. Last August, when 14,748 attended a game at the dome, The Toronto Star wrote it was "the team’s smallest draw for a Rogers Centre regular-season game since 2003". The excuses for that 14,748 were plentiful, from a lack of marketing dollars to a transfer of ownership.
With an even smaller crowd last night at BMO Field, there are precisely three excuses being bandied about. The first is that it was a hot night, even though it was actually a pleasant temp at BMO Field, which is close to Lake Ontario. The second is that it was a Wednesday night. Funny, but the Raptors never had a problem selling out on Wednesday nights, and they play 41 regular season games at home vs. the Argos' 10. So let's focus on the third excuse, which is that Toronto doesn't particularly care for its CFL team.
I wish this wasn't true, and hoped the move to BMO Field would result in the buzz and attendence TFC enjoys, but 12,373 is a telling number. Afterall, it was only the second regular season game at BMO Field, and the excitement is already gone. And that number, 12,373, is less than the self-imposed Raptors cap on seasons tickets. That's right, there are more Raptors season ticket holders than there were people at the second ever regular season Argo game at BMO Field.
I was kindly offered passes to the first game at BMO Field, but had to decline to attend my son's graduation ceremony. I engaged the Argonauts PR person, suggesting that perhaps I take my kids to last night's game instead, so I could write about the experience here. By all accounts, it's a great venue for football. The response from the Argos left me rather dismayed.
The next time someone tells me Toronto prefers the Argos to the Raptors, I'm not even going to engage. It's not even close, and 12,373 for game number two speaks volumes.
Good luck, Argos. You have plenty of work ahead of you.
I'm an unabashed Toronto sports fan. I've been root, root, rooting for the home teams for as long as I can remember.
This past month has reminded me of the three-tiers of pro-sports in Toronto. There's group A, consisting of the Leafs, Blue Jays and Raptors, and group B, composed of TFC and the Argos. There's also a group C, which includes the Marlies and Rock.
When a team in group A makes the playoffs, it's a big deal. Most of the city gets incredibly excited and rallies behind our boys. I personally won't miss a minute of Leafs, Blue Jays or Raptors playoff action if I can help it.
When a team in group B makes the playoffs, you're happy, but there sure isn't a buzz in the city. TFC recently played their first playoff game ever, and if you weren't paying attention you likely missed it. I actually tuned into 3 minutes of this game before realizing we were getting trounced and I didn't really care. The Argos played a semi-final game yesterday, and if it wasn't for a few tweets I saw, I still wouldn't know what happened.
And don't get me started on group C. I'm mildly curious about the Marlies because I'm interested in how Leafs prospects like William Nylander are performing, but I couldn't tell you how many titles the Rock have won or when they last won without Googling it.
So yes, TFC and the Argos recently lost playoff games, but this city barely noticed and hardly cared. But when one of the big three make it, you won't be able to ignore it.
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