Grey Cup will 'transform' Lansdowne in 2017

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Who needs cheerleaders when you’ve got 36,000 fans packed elbow-to-elbow for the hottest football game of the year?

By Emma Jackson.

TD Place promises to get a little rowdy next year when 12,000 extra seats are installed for the 2017 Grey Cup championship.

Who knows if the Redblacks will play in the game – but it likely won’t matter, given the hype around Canada’s 150th birthday and the enthusiasm of Ottawa’s football fans, which Sunday night could be heard echoing across Dow’s Lake.

The newly renovated TD Place stadium only seats 24,000 people – a far cry from the 51,000 who watched the last Ottawa Grey Cup in 2004 – but Bernie Ashe, CEO of the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, which owns the Redblacks, says there are plans to install 12,000 temporary seats in time for the championship game.

"Thirty-six thousand is, we think, just the right size for a Grey Cup game," Mr. Ashe said.

"We have to create a quality fan experience. Putting seats further and further away from the field doesn’t accomplish that."

Most of the extra seats will be in the eastern end zone.

Ashe said bringing the game to Ottawa will "amplify" the ongoing celebrations for Canada’s 150th birthday, set to take place throughout the year.

"The mood of the nation, the mood of our city, will be heightened," Mr. Ashe said. "It's just going to amplify the fun people will have, because it’s the 150th birthday. The city will be alive."

The Canadian Football League announced Sunday that Ottawa will host the 105th Grey Cup final in 2017, with the help of an elaborately all-Canadian video that included speaking roles for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ottawa-Centre MP Catherine McKenna, several deadpan Mounties and a couple of toque-wearing, canoe-steering fans who call themselves the Lumber Joes.

The news got a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd at TD Place.

The game should generate about $100 million in economic activity, especially since a week-long festival of events and activities at Lansdowne Park will encourage fans to come early.

It’s Ottawa’s seventh time hosting the Grey Cup final, its first in 13 years. The capital first hosted – and won – the championship in 1925, followed by finals in 1939, 1940, 1967, 1988 and 2004.

This article originally appeared on metronews.ca on August 2.