CFL

100th Grey Cup Game to be held in Toronto in 2012

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The Canadian Press
6/11/2010 6:07:06 PM
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TORONTO -- Chris Rudge has some pretty lavish ideas about how to celebrate the 100th edition of the Grey Cup.

As expected, the former Canadian Olympic Committee chief executive officer was named chairman of the 2012 Grey Cup on Friday. The announcement came moments after CFL commissioner Mark Cohon awarded the centennial edition of the game to the Toronto Argonauts.

Rudge says his intention is to throw the greatest party in Grey Cup history.

"Is there any reason during Grey Cup week we couldn't have a rock concert every night at Nathan Phillips Square?" Rudge said. "Is there any reason why we can't shut down a large portion of Yonge Street and have the world's greatest touch football game going on with Yonge Street painted green?

"We want to talk to as many people as possible and get the city's input to make this the party that everyone wants to be at and is afraid to be out of town for in case they miss something. I have a lot of ideas and they're staying in my head right now but I don't see any reason why the streets of Toronto can't populated with people that are tremendously passionate about what's going on in the city at that time."

Toronto was long expected to host the 2012 game so the CFL could celebrate the 100th anniversary in its biggest market.

Toronto last hosted the Grey Cup in 2007 when the Saskatchewan Roughriders defeated the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. That marked the first CFL championship game at Rogers Centre since 1992.

Rudge's name as 2012 Grey Cup chairman had surfaced last week. He's a friend of Toronto Argonauts and B.C. Lions owner David Braley and was a finalist for the CFL commissioner's job in 2002.

The first Grey Cup was actually played in 1909 at Toronto's Rosedale Field. But with no Grey Cup games for three years during the First World War, 2012 will be the 100th edition of the game.

"The fact the first Grey Cup game was here in 1909 really played a part in bringing it back," Cohon said. "I talk to fans at the Grey Cup, I talk to them in the off-season, I talk to them all the time and the tradition of this league is what we have to celebrate and I think Canadians are willing to celebrate that."

Traditionally, the Grey Cup and its festivities are confined to the host city. But Cohon said the plan is to go national in 2012.

"We're not just going to celebrate it in Toronto, we want to carry the Cup across the country," Cohon said. "We want to engage all the CFL cities and even some of the smaller markets that don't have CFL football.

"So I think we're really going to make this a national celebration and learn what happened with the Olympics (in Vancouver). They didn't make it just the Vancouver Games, they made it Canada's Games and that's what we're going to do with the Grey Cup."

In Cohon's mind, there was no better way to do that than hire a Grey Cup chairman who had experience bringing the world to Canada for the Olympics.

"We have some good learnings there so why not tap into that expertise," Cohon said.

Added Rudge: "What we learned from the Olympics is how Canadians will rally around something that passionately brings them together. Sport is unique in that sense because we can all celebrate the athletes, they don't necessarily have to come from any region but they are Canadian. Half the makeup of our football teams are Canadian athletes but this is a uniquely Canadian experience . . . and I think we have to build on that."

Braley, who was recently named to the Senate, said the 2007 Grey Cup generated more than $80 million in economic activity throughout Ontario. Almost $53 million of that was in Toronto.

Braley's goal for the 2012 game is an economic boost of $120 million.

"The Grey Cup is the national championship of Canadian football and a symbol of Canadian identity," Braley said. "Hosting the 100th edition of the Grey Cup represents an enormous opportunity for our province, community and team."

Rudge feels the $120-million economic benefit is attainable but also suggested his efforts to promote the 2012 Grey Cup could put more people in the stands for Argos games leading up to the big game.

"I think you have to think beyond the scope of just the (Grey Cup) week," he said. "We need to have a longer vision and start earlier and create reasons for people to get excited about what this community is.

"I wouldn't call it part of the mandate but certainly in my mind part of the mandate is to work as closely with Bob and the Argos as I can so we have a mutually successful experience."

But for now, Rudge plans to ask a lot of questions and bend plenty of ears.

"There's a lot of smart people out there, most of them smarter than me," he said. "I'm going to listen to them and find ways to get things done."

Rudge, Braley, Cohon and Nicholson (Photo: Adam Gagnon/Argonauts)

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(Photo: Adam Gagnon/Argonauts)
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