UPDATE: The 100th Grey Cup is here and CFL.ca has wall-to-wall coverage:
TORONTO — The one hundredth Grey Cup game – a national celebration of a true Canadian icon set for Sunday, November 25th, 2012 – has been awarded to the Toronto Argonauts Football Club, the city of Toronto and province of Ontario.
“The very first Grey Cup was played here in Toronto, at Rosedale Field in 1909, and we’re coming back to celebrate all that the Grey Cup and Canada have come to mean to each other since that day,” Canadian Football League Commissioner Mark Cohon said in making the announcement on behalf of the league’s Board of Governors.
“Nothing brings Canadians together like the Grey Cup, and the 2012 Grey Cup, our hundredth, promises to be an incredible celebration not only of the Grey Cup’s glorious and storied past, but also its bright future.”
The annoucement was made earlier today at the Westin Harbour Castle in downtown Toronto. The Grey Cup’s rich tradition was in the air, with several past Grey Cup winners in attendance and historic artifacts and pictures put on display by the Canadian Football Hall of Fame.
The artifacts included several past Grey Cup rings, helmets, jerseys and even the original two bases for the trophy, which were retired more than twenty years ago.
Senator David Braley, owner of the Toronto Argonauts, accepted the honour of hosting the milestone event on behalf of the Toronto Argonauts and their fans.
“The Grey Cup is both the national championship of Canadian football and a symbol of Canadian identity and unity,” Braley said.
“It’s a tremendous privilege to host the one hundredth Grey Cup and return Canada’s largest and longest annual sporting tradition to the city of Toronto, the place where it all began and where 46 Grey Cup games have been held. It represents an enormous opportunity for our province, our community and our Argonauts team.”
He pointed out the most recent Grey Cup in Toronto, in 2007, a sold out game at Rogers Centre, generated more than $80.1 million in total economic activity throughout Ontario, with $52.9 million of that occurring in Toronto, according to an economic impact study conducted for the city by the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance.
Bob Nicholson, President and CEO of the Toronto Argonauts, said the announcement is tremendous news for all fans of Canadian football, but especially for fans of the Double Blue.
“I know our supporters will join with their fellow fans and friends from across Canada to make the 2012 Grey Cup truly special,” Nicholson said.
“And Toronto Argonaut season ticket holders will have the first opportunity to purchase tickets for the one hundredth Grey Cup game.”
Nicholson introduced Chris Rudge, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Olympic Committee from January, 2003 through the tremendously successful 2010 Vancouver Olympics, as the new Chair and Chief Executive Officer of the 2012 Grey Cup Committee.
“The 2010 Olympics reminded us of something the Grey Cup has always proven, and that is the power of sport to inspire individuals, energize communities and unify entire countries,” Rudge said.
“My goal is to work with my fellow committee members, from across the city, the province, the Argonaut organization and all of Canada, to make the 2012 Grey Cup a week of celebration worthy of an event so steeped in emotion and history. Not only will we respect and embrace all of the tradition it represents, at the same time we will introduce new ideas to make it one of the biggest and best cultural events in the history of Canada. Torontonians will no doubt rally around this historic and exciting celebration as we blanket the city with emotion and passion.”
Gary Lunn, the federal Minister of State for Sport, said Canadians are passionate about their traditions and that passion will fuel the 2012 Grey Cup.
“The Canadian Football League’s motto is This is Our League, and it’s equally true that the Grey Cup is truly one of Canada’s defining events,” Lunn said. “The Government of Canada welcomes this news and looks forward to a national celebration of the Grey Cup, one that will culminate with the festival and game here in Toronto.”
Michael Chan, Minister of Tourism for Ontario, called the announcement proof of the province’s ability to attract and host major events.
“The Grey Cup game and festivities will bring tremendous economic benefits to Ontario. We look forward to welcoming thousands of Canadians from across the country to Ontario for what will be a great celebration,” said Chan.
Appearing on behalf of Toronto Mayor David Miller, Deputy Mayor Joe Pantalone welcomed the news that Canada’s biggest city will host one of Canada’s biggest events.
“Toronto looks forward to welcoming our fellow Canadians from every corner of this great country for the one hundredth Grey Cup,” Pantalone said.
“Toronto was the site of the first Grey Cup game. And Toronto, in 1948, was the site of what is considered the first Grey Cup festival, when western visitors joined with Torontonians to turn what had been a mere game into a major party. Now we’re confident Toronto in 2012 will be the site of the best Grey Cup ever.”
The Grey Cup was not contested for three years during the First World War; hence the one hundredth playing of the Grey Cup game is set for 2012.
More details on the 2012 Grey Cup — including news on the full composition of the organizing committee, the event’s logo, activities and ticket sales – will be unveiled in the months ahead.
Toronto Argonauts season ticket holders will have the first opportunity to purchase tickets for the 2012 Grey Cup game, yet another benefit of being a Double Blue supporter.
Cohon said plans are under way to ensure the Grey Cup is celebrated across the country, leading up to the game and festival in Toronto.
“Today is a great day for our league and for the Grey Cup, but it is just the start of something that is going to be very special,” Cohon said.
“We will celebrate our game, our league, and, of course, our most cherished trophy. But in doing so, we will celebrate something even bigger: our country, and what it means to all of us.”