When I saw the 2014 CFL schedule, I saw an opportunity to take in 4 CFL games in less than a week without stretching the travel budget.
The plan was so good that only one thing could go wrong. And that one thing went very wrong.
Watch the Argos host Winnipeg on Tuesday, then travel to Ottawa to see the Esks on Friday. Come back to the GTA to go to Hamilton Saturday afternoon as the Tiger-Cats host Calgary, followed by a Sunday night visit by BC at Rogers Centre.
So what went wrong? Tim Hortons Field won't be ready in time for the August 16 home game against the Stampeders.
Whether that game would be the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd game ever in the new stadium, getting a ticket was going to be difficult. The new stadium seats fewer people than Ivor Wynne Stadium. You have a pent up fan base eager to see the black and gold live in person. 22,000 is a heck of a lot more people than the 6,500 crammed into Ron Joyce Stadium.
Getting a ticket to the 2 Argos games isn't in doubt. I hustled to make sure I had a ticket in Canada's capital. But getting into Fort Knox might be easier than Ron Joyce Stadium.
Seats do open up since some patrons hang out in the end zone sections, since beer isn't allowed in the seating area. I would sacrifice a potential beer to be able to stay in the seating area.
Rogers Centre has been available for the dates of the first 3 Tiger-Cats home games. If the August 16 game had been placed there, all the Tiger-Cats fans would have fit in Rogers Centre with room even for me.
The concept was wonderful: be able to see 7 CFL teams live in person. The only 2 missed teams would be the Montréal Alouettes and Saskatchewan Roughriders. The feat would be even more significant since none of the games are televised back to the States.
5 of the 9 teams is still impressive, but not as cool as 7 teams. A chance to see the two newest stadiums; now only one.
I'm not alone in wanting to be at Ron Joyce Stadium on Saturday, enough people to fill the place 4 times.
"The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were informed … that a plan is in place to allow the team to play the Labour Day Classic at Tim Hortons Field."
The team and league and fans sure want the stadium to be ready for the Labour Day Classic, especially since their options are limited.
The Tiger-Cats and Toronto Argonauts can't play at Ron Joyce Stadium, since McMaster will host Guelph. Theoretically, this means Guelph is available, but that isn't a fun option for either team. Rogers Centre is technically available but the New York Yankees play on Sunday. However, the impression from the Tuesday night games is that turning around the stadium that quickly isn't viable.
There is great pressure to have the stadium safe enough to play on September 1. After that day, the pressure isn't as high.
Even if Tim Hortons Field is in good enough shape to play on Labour Day, the Tiger-Cats will likely go back to McMaster until the stadium is 100% ready.
The Tiger-Cats don't play again at home until September 14; McMaster plays September 13, but conversion isn't an issue.
We don't know if the ESPN family will carry the Labour Day games. We'll have to wait and see to find out if an incomplete Tim Hortons Field will be enough reason to not carry the early contest.
The NFL is not coming to Toronto full-time. If Jon Bon Jovi and his group end up buying the NFL Buffalo Bills, the plan is to try and keep the team in Western New York. Yes, Bon Jovi specifically didn't guarantee the prospect of staying in Buffalo, but Toronto isn't a full-time option.
The Toronto Argonauts are being kicked out of Rogers Centre in part because of football seats. If the Bills can survive without those seats, then the Argos could too.
The Bills Toronto series was a chance to show what Toronto could do with a NFL franchise. We don't even know when or if the Bills are coming back to Toronto for the series.
The Argonauts need a deal to reconfigure BMO Field to accommodate the team. Hopefully, this will not come down to MLSE buying the team, but the only path to BMO might be MLSE. Regardless, the Argos need a good place to play, and soon.
The Bills can't play at BMO Field and they aren't getting a new NFL stadium in Toronto. Rogers Centre is the only option and that has drawbacks. The way Rogers has run the Bills Toronto series does not inspire confidence in making that work for 8 games a year.
The NFL doesn't benefit as much from a team in Canada. London (England, not Ontario) is where the league thinks of in terms of international growth.