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Dirty Bird Blog: No Dome-o Toronto

Posted By Clifford Pine On Aug 6 2011 @ 3:31 pm In Montreal Alouettes | 3 Comments

Everyone in Alouettes Nation can step off the ledge now with the 36-23 win over the hapless Toronto Argonauts. I suggested that this was a game that would help Montreal re-establish itself and they did just that.

Anthony Calvillo was his usual record-breaking self, setting a new benchmark for completions in the CFL. S.J. Green did his usual circus-style of catching and Brandon Whitaker has not only stepped out of Avon Cobourne’s shadow, but has ran right through it. But the big star of the game was ironically enough Toronto native Dahrran Diedrick, scoring three touchdowns for the Alouettes.

The defense still has a ways to go, but was a lot more fluid than it has been and even was able to squeeze Cleo Lemon for a couple of juicy interceptions. Discipline was better as well, most notable when Lemon shoved Diamond Ferri to the ground in frustration, drawing a penalty. The past two weeks, it was our team taking dumb penalties like that and killing the momentum. This week that nonsense stopped dead in its tracks.

Montreal executed their plan to perfection, while Toronto did the exact same thing they did in Montreal a few weeks ago. Hence why their defensive co-ordinator was given his walking papers after the loss. Argos coach Jim Barker’s insistence to cling to Lemon through good or bad just may the difference in Toronto this year.

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Kinda sad that the cavernous Skyd Rogers Centre only drew 19,000 fans on a nice summer’s eve. The roof was open, something I’ve never been lucky enough to see when I’ve been to an Argos game in Toronto. Dunno what’s keeping the fans away, especially if the city of Toronto wants an NFL team as bad as they claim. If they can’t sell out a CFL game here and there, I’m not liking their odds.

The Argos had not one, but two golden opportunities to get into a smaller, more intimate setting and both times they blew it. Once was a partnership with York University in Toronto that would have seen a stadium built in the same vein that the Alouettes have with Percival Molson Stadium, but that move never happened and the Argos commited themselves to Rogers Centre.

Another opportunity was exploring the possibility of doing CFL games at BMO Field, a soccer-only facility which was built for Toronto F.C. of Major League Soccer. Had the Argos not committed to Rogers Centre when BMO Field was being constructed, perhaps the stadium could have been constructed to accommodate both franchises. You would have had the same idea as Montreal did; a cozy stadium in the downtown core and quite possibly the same results attendance-wise.

Worst case scenario, that 19,000 that the Argos drew the other night would have looked much better in a 20,000 seat stadium as opposed to the 50,000 seat Rogers Centre. But the Argos brass stuck to their guns and stayed put. And for want of a nail, a kingdom was lost. Maybe Argos owner David Braley, having seen the results of what Empire Field had in Vancouver with his other team the B.C. Lions, could re-open this discussion for the Argos. Even if it’s a snug fit, do the regular season games at BMO Field then any playoff games/Grey Cup at Rogers Centre.

There’s a time and a place for domed football games…a hot summer evening is neither. We learned that lesson the hard way in Montreal but at least Toronto’s white elephant of a stadium is downtown and not out in the east end of town surrounded by nothing.

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The Alouettes are back home next Thursday to take on the no longer undefeated Edmonton Eskimos. They were proven to be human after the game in Winnipeg and the Eskimos don’t have much success at Percival Molson. The Als go into their bye week after the game then head out to Calgary, so a win at home would be the ultimate tonic to go into the bye with. They have a good football team in Edmonton this year, but neither team’s really been challenged this year. I’m expecting a close, hard-fought battle between these two.

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I’ll be back next week for a preview of the game. Not sure if I’ll be able to attend live, but I am gonna try. My Alouettes writing contemporary & good friend Jack Bedell [1] is coming up from Louisiana to see his beloved Alouettes play live for the first time this year. Yes, there are American CFL fans that will make this pilgrimage just like we Canadian fans go to NFL games. Unlike me going to Buffalo every year, Jack gets to come see a great team play.

GO ALS GO!

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[1] Jack Bedell: http://montreal.ctv.ca/bedellsblitz

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