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CFL attendance down so far

CFL Getty Images

Blame it on the World Cup.  Or something.

Through the early portion of the CFL season, attendance has dropped in comparison to 2013.  The Toronto Star has the numbers.

Seven of nine teams have had their home openers, and each team saw fewer fans this year than last year.  The biggest drop came in Regina, Saskatchewan, where the RoughRiders rode a plummet in paid customers from 35,296 last year to 19,285 in 2014.

In Toronto, perfect conditions in the sky resulted in less-than-perfect conditions in the stands for the Argos first game.  Only 17,758 showed up, down from 29,852 in 2013.

Even in Montreal, with Chad Ochocinco now in the fold, the attendance fell by more than 10 percent from the prior year’s home opener.

The good news, if there is any, is that the expansion Ottawa RedBlacks have announced a sellout for their home opener on July 18.  The bad news is that the stadium holds only 24,000.

While short-term trends don’t mean much, it’s won’t be easy to sustain a nine-team league with attendance at or below 20,000 per game.  Regardless of whether the CFL will endure (and it most likely will), there’s a long way to go to make the CFL into something more than a D-level professional football league, in a world where the only other pro football league has been perched at A+ for decades.

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46 Responses to “CFL attendance down so far”
  1. paychrisjohnson28 says: Jul 9, 2014 10:14 AM

    The CFL just got a deal from ESPN, to show their games on ESPN2 that should help too, they have to be getting paid right? Maybe more are watching the games on TV…?

    Maybe sign more big name known former players that left the NFL like Tebow, Young and Leinart would help?

  2. freeigwebuike says: Jul 9, 2014 10:15 AM

    There is ZERO chance that soccer is causing fewer people to attend football games. Even Canadian football games.

  3. criticaldsj says: Jul 9, 2014 10:15 AM

    *Yawn* Talk to me after Labour Day.

  4. drock32 says: Jul 9, 2014 10:16 AM

    In Saskatchewan they have historic flooding and the game was for the most part a passing thought for people who had to sandbag their houses.

  5. zombiepatriot says: Jul 9, 2014 10:17 AM

    The Regina number reflects the number of people who attended the game, during a severe rain storm that flooded out much of our province causing a large number of communities to declare a state of emergency. In fact to reach the stadium some had to wade through knee deep water and plan alternate routes due to the flooding of underpasses.

    The number of paid customers was much higher as per available tickets on TicketMaster the week prior (the team announced only a couple of thousand remained).

  6. thestrategyexpert says: Jul 9, 2014 10:20 AM

    If it ain’t fixed, then you essentially broke it. That’s embarrassing if the CFL can’t pilfer enough action away from the poorly run NFL. Do better or go away and make room for another American football league.

  7. abqpacker says: Jul 9, 2014 10:22 AM

    The most interesting headline I’ve ever seen! As I American, I care sooooooooooo deeply about CFL attendance.

  8. thebiblestudent says: Jul 9, 2014 10:22 AM

    Wait…you won’t say “Redskins” in an article, but you have no problem saying “RedBlacks”?

  9. abqpacker says: Jul 9, 2014 10:22 AM

    I blame Dan Snyder.

  10. bucrightoff says: Jul 9, 2014 10:22 AM

    The Riders first game was played in a borderline torrential downpour, so a little context would be nice.

  11. Aaron Rodgers Has Tiny Hands says: Jul 9, 2014 10:27 AM

    If the CFL folds, where will the Packers’ draft busts play?

  12. broncosbrowns says: Jul 9, 2014 10:28 AM

    Soccer has nothing to do with this. Remember, this is Canada we’re talking about, not United States North. They don’t get ESPN, they get TSN, which is run by the same company.

  13. catfanatic1979v1 says: Jul 9, 2014 10:31 AM

    The NFL should just buy them out and make them a developmental league.

  14. Carl Gerbschmidt says: Jul 9, 2014 10:33 AM

    If the CFL folds, where will the Packers’ draft busts play?

    ———

    Wow, kind of a snarky comment given that the most iconic coach in your team’s history, Bud Grant, coached the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to 4 Grey Cups. FYI – the “Grey Cup” is the championship trophy awarded to the best team in the CFL – I know you’re not very familiar with championship trophies.

  15. eustus says: Jul 9, 2014 10:34 AM

    thebiblestudent, I’ve never heard the term Redblack used as a racial epithet. Is that some sort of Oklahoma thing I’ve never heard of?

    Regardless, it is the name of the Ottawa football team. The get the name from their uniforms which are red and black. Just like the uniforms of the NHL and CHL teams in town.

    Similaraly, the New Zealand national rugby union squad, the All Blacks isn’t a racial epithet either. It refers to their uniform, which is all black.

  16. nyyjetsknicks says: Jul 9, 2014 10:36 AM

    CFL fantasy football. We all know it’s going to happen.

  17. mp42245 says: Jul 9, 2014 10:44 AM

    Sorry to say, buddy, but I get all of the ESPN broadcasts and NFL Sunday Ticket up here for $32 a month. Try getting Sunday Ticket down there for that price. Up here, you can watch pretty much any game you want on regular TV. They don’t have Blackout rules. So for a season of College football on ESPN and NFL Sunday Ticket, I buy the package for 4 months then cancel. What is the price of Sunday Ticket, BTW. So four months comes out to 128 bucks.

  18. tokyosandblaster says: Jul 9, 2014 10:47 AM

    And yet, all of the teams sold more tickets for one game than the Vikings did all last year.

    >

  19. ampats says: Jul 9, 2014 10:57 AM

    Wonder what Peter King thinks about this ?

  20. bonnovi says: Jul 9, 2014 11:05 AM

    I don’t know about you, but I would never miss a football game for a soccer game.

  21. rrhoe says: Jul 9, 2014 11:08 AM

    If the weather was inclement then who can blame them for not going.

  22. tunescribe says: Jul 9, 2014 11:39 AM

    Ottawa RedBlacks? Hmm … Maybe this could be the answer to Dan Snyder’s dilemma.

  23. djshnooks says: Jul 9, 2014 11:40 AM

    Cfl blows without Flutie.

  24. logicaldawg says: Jul 9, 2014 11:49 AM

    Stick to NFL commentary. You have no clue about the Canadian game nor what is needed for it to be sustainable. You are attempting to assess it by applying NFL expectations. Up here, the professional league is a different concept entirely.

    The league has been around, in one form or another, for over 150 years. True that there are many more distractions today but the CFL is still viable, especially in the western provinces.

  25. Aaron Rodgers Has Tiny Hands says: Jul 9, 2014 11:51 AM

    Wow, kind of a snarky comment given that the most iconic coach in your team’s history, Bud Grant, coached the Winnipeg Blue Bombers to 4 Grey Cups. FYI – the “Grey Cup” is the championship trophy awarded to the best team in the CFL – I know you’re not very familiar with championship trophies.
    ______

    I guess you didn’t realize that Bud Grant came to the NFL from the CFL, not the other way around like your players.

  26. clashpoint says: Jul 9, 2014 11:57 AM

    I think the arena league might be a good fit for Canada. There’s always good weather inside under the ac. Unless it’s in San Antonio, of course.

  27. jkirby317 says: Jul 9, 2014 12:00 PM

    Why is this news?

    Who cares about the CFL?

    The answer: Not even Canadians.

  28. bobzilla1001 says: Jul 9, 2014 12:12 PM

    Football: America’s game.

  29. thegreatgabbert says: Jul 9, 2014 12:16 PM

    Those attendance figures are in Canadian numbers as well. Which makes it even worse.

  30. pooflingingmonkey says: Jul 9, 2014 12:20 PM

    Redblacks? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

  31. Getoffmylawn! says: Jul 9, 2014 12:29 PM

    How can you have a field that big and only 24,000 seats? Are there only three rows?

  32. billswillnevermove says: Jul 9, 2014 12:32 PM

    Toronto is the worst city in the world. Not a sports town, it’s a hockey town and the Maple Laughs are a joke anyways. I wouldn’t step foot in that city again if you gave me a million dollars.

  33. Wineshard says: Jul 9, 2014 12:33 PM

    Claiming that the World Cup impacted attendance without commenting on the severe weather is ignorant.

  34. xinellum says: Jul 9, 2014 12:43 PM

    The CFL is losing young constituents to the NFL due to the popularity the NFL is presently experiencing. I know I used to watch the CFL wondering if I could see talent that would eventually make it to the NFL. Unfortunately that has been few and far between and as such I find Arena ball more interesting than the CFL. The CFL will exist even if the Canadian government has to prop it up because it is not the NFL and shows Canada’s independence from American football. It will trend up and down depending on the talent but presently that talent is few and far between.

  35. channelguy says: Jul 9, 2014 12:55 PM

    The CFL was once a very good quality league. Not quite as good as the NFL but close. The difference was that the players were smaller — smaller guys with talent who would be stars in the CFL, but in the NFL would likely get hurt.

    What killed the quality CFL was the USFL in the 1980s, which drove up salaries to the point where the CFL couldn’t compete for top talent, or keep their own stars. It sounds surreal now that before the USFL, CFL teams sometimes could sign first round picks from the NFL draft, or poach quality free agents, but they did.

  36. peopletrains says: Jul 9, 2014 12:56 PM

    CF-who?

  37. medialovesthecowboys says: Jul 9, 2014 1:09 PM

    billswillnevermove says:
    Jul 9, 2014 12:32 PM
    Toronto is the worst city in the world. Not a sports town, it’s a hockey town and the Maple Laughs are a joke anyways. I wouldn’t step foot in that city again if you gave me a million dollars.

    ————————————————————
    Yeah…. fourth largest economy in North America, beautiful women EVERYWHERE, safe – even in “rough areas”, liberal (women can be topless, and often are), tons of great food and great music. You’re right, Toronto is absolutely garbage.

  38. billswillnevermove says: Jul 9, 2014 1:29 PM

    medialovesthecowboys says:Jul 9, 2014 1:09 PM

    billswillnevermove says:
    Jul 9, 2014 12:32 PM
    Toronto is the worst city in the world. Not a sports town, it’s a hockey town and the Maple Laughs are a joke anyways. I wouldn’t step foot in that city again if you gave me a million dollars.

    ————————————————————
    Yeah…. fourth largest economy in North America, beautiful women EVERYWHERE, safe – even in “rough areas”, liberal (women can be topless, and often are), tons of great food and great music. You’re right, Toronto is absolutely garbage.
    _________________________________
    Safe…even in rough areas? Don’t make me laugh. Recently, gang-related incidents have been on the rise. Between the years of 1997 and 2005 over 300 gang-related deaths have occurred. American gang experts have been brought in and increased funding for programs in troubled neighbourhoods have been recently initiated. Other organizations, including the New York City-based group Guardian Angels, have come to Toronto despite the massive displeasure of city residents, city officials, and politicians.

  39. crewchief15 says: Jul 9, 2014 1:31 PM

    Liberal = women can be topless and often are, tons of food and great music, sounds like the 4th largest night club in Vegas…

  40. nflfan1326 says: Jul 9, 2014 1:35 PM

    Socialized medicine.

  41. jameslongstaffe says: Jul 9, 2014 2:34 PM

    CFL is not in competition with the NFL, it has been around for a long time & has a rich history. Some Canadians prefer the NFL, & that is fine. Personally I love both, as I love football. There are news stadiums & a large TV contract. The attendance is not a big concern, it will improve as the season goes. There are many explanations for the ebbs & flows, but at the end of the day lots of people love the league & it isn’t going anywhere. Many Americans come to play in the league & they will always be welcome:) The issue with a developmental league in the US will always be that the NFL is alpha dog & always will be. In Canada, the CFL is not trying to compete with the NFL, & many players enjoy being a star on a team, rather than a practice roster player on an NFL team. & yes Saskatchewan fans were dealing with terrible flooding, so that evidence should be dismissed.

  42. hughjanus2000 says: Jul 9, 2014 4:18 PM

    Three words: Bo Levi Mitchell

  43. dubblelznhell says: Jul 9, 2014 6:57 PM

    Yeah. I like both leagues, too. Can’t stand arena football. Looks too squishy. I’d be claustrophobic. And the CFL is much older than the NFL.

  44. ajsinnz says: Jul 10, 2014 9:41 AM

    Oh, and watching last year’s Grey Cup was very cool. So much more…quaint?… than the overblown Super Bowl stuff. And come on now, the gal that did the anthem had a Flying V guitar! \m/

  45. completefan says: Jul 10, 2014 3:01 PM

    19,285? Isn’t that the average attendance at Jacksonville Jaguars games?

  46. stlouis81 says: Jul 15, 2014 6:56 PM

    19,285? Isn’t that the average attendance at Jacksonville Jaguars games?

    ————————-

    Are you seriously this stupid? The Jags have a better attendance than we do in St. Louis….and their team has sucked for the last 6 years. Hell, that joke is lame, even towards the Raiders (who cap their attendance max at around 53,250). While it is somewhat annoying that Jags fans complain about it, I honestly can’t blame them since people tend to ignore them, only to turn around and ignorantly claim that they don’t exist (ironic since I sometimes wonder why 60,000 people willingly go to see one of the worst teams in the NFL get destroyed).

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