by CJ Phillips
Even bikini halftime contests could not fill the stands when the Las Vegas Posse played their one season in the Canadian Football League (CFL) way back in 1994.
Part of the CFL expansion experiment into the USA (1993-1995) with the Baltimore Stallions, Birmingham Barracudas, Memphis Mad Dogs, Sacramento Gold Miners, San Antonio Texans and Shreveport Pirates, the Posse always had plenty of seats available at the 31,000 capacity Sam Body Stadium.
In fact, October 15, 1994 they set a standard for CFL attendance (stats kept since 1958) when 2,350 fans showed up to watch them play the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in a regular season match.
Earlier that season only 4,761 were counted when Saskatchewan Roughriders made a visit to Sin City.
CFL history was also made last Saturday when the Northern Kickoff II, featuring the host Toronto Argonauts against the Edmonton Eskimos, became the most northerly played regular season contest in CFL 103-year annals.
Unfortunately, the game held at Shell Place’s SMS Equipment Stadium also set the dubious standard as having the lowest attendance for a CFL regular season game to be played on Canadian soil with 4,900 in attendance.
No finger pointing at organizers as they did a great job promoting. Case in point the 11,000 plus at Northern Kickoff I a few weeks prior. The simple fact is that you cannot force people to come.
Now the question is how many people will show up when FC Edmonton hosts the San Antonio Scorpions Sunday July 5 for the first of two North American Soccer League regular season contests, the other to be held August 2 with the Ottawa Fury visiting?
The fan demographics are a bit different. Much, much younger for soccer as the CFL tends to appeal to older folks like myself. Also following on the heels of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the fact that FC Edmonton has made great strides in promoting themselves locally, look for a decent crowd. It is also pretty affordable. Some seats are cheaper than going to the movies!
In regards to the 7,000 seat proposed downtown arena, a suggestion for city council, hold a season ticket drive. If you only sell 300 squash the deal. If you sell 3,000 – 5,000 go ahead and the fans can wait the two years for the arena to rise and eventually open doors.
I visited Fort McMurray Golf Course to take in some of the Syncrude Boreal Open which is part of the Mackenzie Tour PGA Tour Canada. Presented by Aecon, this is the fifth year for the event and it was fun to see the wonderment in some of the young caddies eyes as they hauled the golf bags, nearly as big as them, for the likes of David Mills and Jay Vandeventer.
The event was captured by Canadian Kevin Spooner in a five-hole playoff while local golfer Stuart Anderson, as was the case in 2013, was only a stroke or two off the lead after the opening two days but fell back the last two rounds.
Catch you on the rebound.