If you’re waiting for tickets for this year’s Grey Cup in Ottawa to go on sale to the general public, you may be out of luck.
If you don’t plan on buying an Ottawa Redblacks season ticket or some sort of smaller package of tickets, there won’t be much left to pick through with an expected capacity of about 34,000 for the Canadian Football League championship contest at TD Place on Nov. 26.
Here’s where tickets have been going: The Redblacks are looking at selling the equivalent of about 17,000 season tickets (so far averaging about one Grey Cup ticket per person), plus a waiting list of 10,000 fans plunked down $50 deposits in late November, and there are ticket allotments to the eight other CFL teams, the league and its sponsors.
“If you do the math, with 17,000 season tickets selling at a 1-for-1 basis, 10,000 people who put deposits down, league holds and team holds, there isn’t going to be a lot after all that, if any,” Ottawa Sports & Entertainment Group president of sports Jeff Hunt said Tuesday. “Grey Cup tickets are always special, always a premium, but I think this will be the hottest Grey Cup ticket in years, maybe decades.”
It looks like the best bet may be to purchase at least a partial season ticket. The Redblacks will roll out five-game packages next week. Three packs will be made available in April.
“Season-ticket holders get their own tickets, plus they can buy an additional Grey Cup ticket for every season ticket they have,” Hunt said. “So if you have two season tickets, you could buy four Grey Cup tickets: up to four. Partial season-ticket holders also get a priority on Grey Cup tickets. If there are fans out there maybe debating getting involved in even a partial season ticket, this would be a good time to do it.”
Momentum going into the Redblacks’ fourth season is apparently carrying right over into the Grey Cup.
“There’s sort of a Grey Cup sandwich happening here,” Hunt said. “The fact we just won the Grey Cup, that’s great for how fans feel about the team right now. But there’s also the fact that we’re hosting the Grey Cup. The last Grey Cup was here 13 years ago. People remember that. It was a great time even if it wasn’t one of the best times for football in Ottawa.”
What’s going on with the Redblacks fan base is what every team wants. It’s not just the old faithful who sat in the stands when the Ottawa Rough Riders or Renegades played, with plenty of fans from a new generation.
“The response has just been incredible,” Hunt said. “In three years, we’ve virtually sold out every game. There’s no doubt the Ottawa Redblacks are the envy of the CFL. We’ve got the youngest fan base in the league.
“You just need to walk around and see who’s here and the behaviour of our fans. They come in large groups, they love the social aspect. The big concourses, especially on the south side, are real popular with the younger fans. We’ve got fans who haven’t sat in their seats since they’ve been coming. They just prefer to socialize and watch as a large group of people. It’s a great atmosphere.
“When Toronto played its first game at BMO Field, (Argos president/CEO) Michael Copeland said to me that it felt like Ottawa there. He meant that obviously as a compliment. That’s the reputation we’ve earned the league as a real fun atmosphere with a young, energetic, crowd … loyal fans.”
PARTY CENTRAL: Lansowne Park will be the place to be during Grey Cup week, but it looks as if it won’t be the only place.
“We won’t get every Grey Cup party at Lansdowne,” Hunt said. “There just isn’t enough room, especially for some of the bigger ones like Riderville and Spirit of Edmonton. We’re taking the Aberdeen (Pavilion) as Redblacks Party Central, so that really leaves the Horticultural Building as the only other big venue. I have heard teams have aligned with some of the bars and restaurants on site here to host their parties, so you will have that atmosphere. That’s something I haven’t seen, where you can go from maybe Riderville to Tigertown to all these parties without leaving Lansdowne. That’ll be pretty cool.”