Tickets selling at rapid pace
Calgary Herald Fri Jun 12 2009 Byline: Tamara Gignac
Canada's biggest football event is months away, but organizers say tickets to the 2009 Grey Cup are disappearing fast.
Eighty-five per cent of the 45,700 seats up for grabs are already gone, with fans shelling out anywhere from$195 to$370 to take in the Canadian Football League championship game at McMahon Stadium in November.
Stampeders season-ticket holders paid a reduced price and got first crack at 30,000 of the playoff tickets before they went on sale to the general public May 30.
Game officials credit the devotion of Calgary fans for the brisk ticket sales, noting many people in the city are eager to see the Stampeders win back-to-back Grey Cups, this time on their own turf.
"This is a football town. People who live here love the game and the success of the Stamps helps, no question about it," said Grey Cup Festival president Greg Albrecht.
"There's a lot of excitement around the game and anticipation of what the season is going to look like."
Football fan Peter Dunderdale can hardly wait for this year's Grey Cup.
The 56-year-old businessman travels from his home in Victoria every other year to take in the game with far-flung friends from high school.
It's a testosterone-fuelled reunion he relishes -- and Dunderdale is prepared to fork out $2,000 for four "relatively decent" seats, ideally 50 rows up with a good view of the field.
"I know I can have bronze tickets, but I'm hoping for something a little better," said Dunderdale, who is looking for interested sellers through an online classified ad.
He isn't fazed by the cost. "Are the ticket prices lofty? They are, but the Grey Cup is one of those destination holidays that you allocate a certain amount of funds for. You know it's not going to be an inexpensive weekend," he said.
Tickets to the Nov. 29 contest are pricer than last year, in part because of increased demand, organizers say. Mc-Mahon Stadium has fewer seats than football venues in cities like Montreal and Vancouver, making the 2009 Grey Cup ducats harder to snag and consequently more valuable. An additional 10,000 temporary seats will be added to the stadium to reach the 45,000-seat total.
South of the border, a slumping economy has forced some American sports clubs to pare down prices to attract tightfisted fans. Earlier this year, the NFL slashed the cost of some Super Bowl seats for the first time--in some cases by as much as $300 apiece.
But if Canadian football fans are keeping a closer eye on their discretionary spending, the new-found frugality doesn't seem to apply to the Grey Cup, said Albrecht.
He isn't surprised, noting the annual November event is a national tradition that, if not entirely immune to the economic downturn, can hold its own among diehard fans who love a good party.
"We haven't seen a lot of resistance on the ticket pricing or the uptake," said Albrecht. "It's Canada's game --many people see it as an institution."
Thousands of tickets to the game--many of them in the end zone -- are still up for grabs at ticketmaster.caor 2009greycupfestival.com.Grey Cup organizers believe the event will be completely sold out before the summer is through, a feat that would be a first for the league. "We want to break the record well in advance of the semifinals and make an announcement in advance of Labour Day," said Albrecht.
Grey Cup games typically attract about 25,000 people from outside the host city, and not just to the actual game itself.
Devoted fans are expected to travel from all parts of Canada to take part in four days of festivities in Calgary that will include a parade, outdoor parties, a gala concert and a hockey game between CFL and NHL alumni.