After RedBlacks victory, OSEG staff look to 2017 Grey Cup in Ottawa

Regardless of what happened on the field Sunday night, the Grey Cup was destined for Ottawa in 2017.

 

And while the players on the field were winning it, team staff were trying to learn everything they could for Ottawa’s hosting of the Grey Cup.

 

Local officials have previously said they plan to transform Lansdowne Park to accommodate the influx of additional fans, while area merchants have called next year’s Grey Cup “a gift” for city's economy.

Valerie Hughes, the director of major events for the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, said much as they did in Winnipeg last year, they wanted to take in the festival and see how Toronto was running things.

“We came with a bigger team and we are looking at almost everything,” she said.

She said that has included meeting with staff and organizers in Toronto, as well as team party organizers and even the company providing temporary stands.

She said Toronto had an event that really focuses on the fans and they want to duplicate that.

“They’re focusing activities on the fans. CFL fans are very loyal and very Canadian and have a great outlook and a great attitude.”

She said when Ottawa hosts next year, they also want to make sure that people who have never been to a game can get excited.

“We want to make sure we are creating an opportunity for non CFL fans to become CFL fans,” he said.

The Ottawa festival is expected to largely be focused around Landsdowne Park next year, with more than just the game at the field for fans.

“We have such a great facility at Landsdowne Park and we really want to make that the headquarters. We want to make that a one-stop shop,” said Hughes.

She said while that plan remains in place, after seeing the events in Toronto they are willing to broaden their reach.

“I think there is opportunity to do so much and to engage more of the city that we could do little satellite activations across the city.”

On the field, Henry Burris threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Ernest Jackson in overtime and the Ottawa Redblacks beat the Calgary Stampeders 39-33.

The third-year Redblacks won their first Canadian Football League title, and gave Ottawa its 10th championship. The Rough Riders won the last of their seven titles in 1976, and the Senators won in 1925 and 1926.

Calgary was favoured by double digits after finishing the regular season 15-2-1. The Redblacks, at 8-9-1, were the first team to finish first in a division with a losing record.

Before Sunday’s game, tailgating reviews were mixed as fans of all colours mingled in a jovial and "typically Canadian" party in a parking lot before kickoff.

Redblacks fans said they loved the experience outside the stadium, where beers sold for $4 and fans grilled hot dogs and calamari.

"It's a really good opportunity for fans to get together, have some food and drinks before the game," said Lordele Greenyer, who came down from Ottawa a few days ago to take part in the festivities leading up to the game.

"There's no tailgating in Ottawa, definitely nothing like this and I think they've done a very good job of it."

Some Calgary Stampeders fans said they preferred the tailgating back home. They also complained about the ticket prices and the "terrible" public transit.

"It wasn't well organized, it was difficult to find out where to go and the volunteers didn't know where the tailgating spot was," said Barry Wilson.

"But we had a really good time when we got here and we can't gripe about the weather."

Wilson wasn't the only one who couldn't find the tailgating lot – others complained about its location, which was across six lanes of traffic and in the opposite direction of the stadium.

Another Stampeders fan, Denae Lallier, wasn't thrilled with the $500 ticket price.

She had reason to complain, given she bought her ticket well before the Toronto Argonauts, who are the hosts of this year's Grey Cup, slashed prices last month in an effort to fill the stadium.

Tickets were being peddled for about half price on the grey market outside the stadium.

It worked as the game had an announced capacity attendance of 33,421 at the recently renovated stadium, although there were empty seats throughout.

This article originally appeared in Metro News.

With reports by the Canadian Press and files from OBJ staff.