A Tiger Tale: From Saskatoon To Guelph

I had my first opportunity to experience a truly East Division Canadian Football League Game on the weekend as the Saskatchewan Roughriders took on and defeated the Hamilton Tiger Cats who were playing at Alumni Stadium at the University of Guelph.

It was a unique and thrilling experience. Here are a random collection of thoughts from the whirlwind trip! For pictures from the contest check out the photo page of this site!

–          I tip my hat to the Hamilton fans that drove 45 minutes from Hamilton to the contest. There doesn’t seem to have been a lot done by the Tabbies to entice more fans from Steeltown to make the commute. I didn’t see any fan buses, or other forms of mass transport available to the loyal fans from Steel Town.

–          Having said that, the Tabbies did their best to create atmosphere at the small venue. The game day experience, however, seemed to all but be ignored. At Mosaic Stadium the music is pumping, the video screens are captivating, and there is a constant buzz around the field. I missed that feeling entirely except around the pockets of Rider fans that inhabited roughly a third of the stadium.

–          Seeing the stadium and campus at the University of Guelph it made me truly appreciate the facility that has been built at Griffiths Stadium. The seating concessions and atmosphere created around our Saskatoon field trumped what I saw in Guelph.

–          That being said perhaps the University of Saskatchewan could take some lessons from Guelph. Security was courteous and helpful, parking was a breeze and no charge!!!!

–          I fear that the Tiger-Cats are losing a generation of fans much like the Riders did in the 80’s. There hasn’t been a lot to cheer about on the field for the Tabbies. Therefore the marketing people should seriously consider taking a page out of the Roughrider marketing book. If you think about it the Green and White don’t market the game, instead it’s the fan experience. Doing it that way takes some of the pressure off the team to perform. Don’t get me wrong winning puts buts in the seats but you are not as reliant on success if you can market a fun time.

–          About the generation of fans… The demographic at the game was probably on average 15-to-20 years older than a Rider game with not a lot of younger faces taking in the game. (A shame for a game on a University campus.)

–          Speaking of buts in the seats, notice that the middle section of the field across from the player benches and in full view of the television cameras was empty? That wasn’t because of season ticket holders that stayed away because of the potential for a downpour (which never happened). It was because the price of the tickets. There were four price points for tickets at the games ranging from $38.00 to $100.00. Yes, the latter price was for the empty seats. Hamilton is asking fans to drive nearly an hour more to the game (spending more money on gas) and then gouging them at the gate. I understand that the decreased capacity means that you are losing money at the gate. The Ti-Cats need to realize that you can’t make it up though by gouging your customers.

–          Sorry if this is coming off as bashing Hamilton but the Ti-Cats in my opinion did very little to engage the corporate community or residents of Guelph. Playing there is an instant opportunity to grow your brand. The comments I heard in the stands reflected the view that the Tiger Cats were just in town to take their money and not give anything back. That’s a bad image to portray.

–          As far as the Ti-Cats are concerned on the field there is a lot of venom being spewed towards General Manager and Head Coach Kent Austin, the fans want a winner but more importantly a sign that things are going to get better. I believe that Kent the coach has the ability to get the job done. However, in the personnel department the jury is out and we won’t know where the Tabbies are until after Labour Day.

All in all it was a very unique experience in what is a very temporary facility. Here’s hoping the Ti-Cats can capitalize and move forward in their new stadium in 2014.


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