The football fans who turned the Grey Cup into Canada’s best party are being challenged to take their game to the next level in 2009.
The Canadian Football League and the Calgary Stampeders, in a joint announcement yesterday, said the 97th version of the championship contest will be staged in Cowtown Nov. 29, 2009. football fans have long been linked to the Cup Classic’s cherished status.
Although rumoured for months, the official word came from Stampeders president Scott Ackles and CFL commissioner Mark Cohon as the century-old trophy was paraded into the press conference by two members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
While making the announcement, Cohon tipped his hat to the fanatical football followers of Calgary who raised the Grey Cup game’s profile in 1948 when the Stamps won their first CFL championship. That year Stamps fans travelled by the thousands to Toronto, transforming the event into a Stampede hoedown, complete with pancake breakfasts, chuckwagons and revelry that lasted well into the night.
“Calgary football fans in 1948 made the Grey Cup game special and the 97th Grey Cup game will be the best ever,” Cohon declared.
“The Grey Cup is the ultimate celebration of our league and our country and what the two mean to each other. And that makes the city of Calgary the perfect host.”
Calgary last staged the game in 2000, although the Stampeders fell in the West Final to the B.C. Lions, the eventual Cup champions.
In 2000 McMahon Stadium was temporarily expanded to 45,000 seats for the game that attracted 43,822 spectators. A similar temporary expansion is planned for next year. The 1975 and 1993 Grey Cups also were contested at McMahon Stadium. Although the Stampeders have won five Grey Cups, the team has never appeared in a hometown championship game.
“As Canadians, we all understand the significance of the Grey Cup,” said Ackles. “It’s an honour to host the event, so we’re excited about the impact it will have on our football club, our fans, our community, our province and the development of amateur football in Calgary. When you look at the history of this city and the Grey Cup, I’m confident 2009 will be a classic championship and outstanding festival.”
Stampeders season ticket holders have first rights to 2009 Grey Cup seats.