TORONTO -- The celebrations surrounding the 100th Grey Cup in 2012 kicked into a new gear today with a special event commemorating the very first Grey Cup game in 1909 and looking forward to an historic Canadian Football League season.
“The Grey Cup is synonymous with Canadian culture and unity, and this is where it all began,” said Mark Cohon, Commissioner of the CFL.
“Just as Canada has come so very far as a country, the Grey Cup has grown into something bigger than sport: it’s a symbol of our ability to come together to celebrate who and what we are as Canadians.”
The first Grey Cup game, played on December 4, 1909, saw the University of Toronto claim the trophy that had been donated by the Right Honourable Lord Earl Grey, Governor General of Canada, by defeating the Parkdale Canoe Club of Toronto (now the Boulevard Club) by a score of 26-6, in what was then known as the Dominion Championship of Canadian Amateur Rugby Football.
Representing today’s Vice-Regal Office and the people of Ontario, the Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, attended today’s ceremony and spoke as the Honourary Chair of the 100th Grey Cup Festival. “The Grey Cup is an important part of Canada, has played an important role in the history of Ontario, and I am pleased to participate in this festive occasion,” said Lieutenant Governor Onley.
As the Grey Cup was not contested for three years during World War One, the 100th Grey Cup game will be played this November 25th at Rogers Centre in Toronto.
It will be the culmination of a year long, Canada-wide celebration that will include a national tour of the Grey Cup, leading to the biggest Grey Cup Festival in history, commencing November 15th, 2012, in Toronto. This 10-day, 11-night Festival will seize an historic opportunity to engage, energize and unite Canadians from coast to coast in Toronto.
“The city of Toronto is excited about welcoming our fellow Canadians to what will be one of the biggest events we’ve ever hosted,” said Rob Ford, Mayor of Toronto.
Commissioner Cohon helped unveil a new plaque commemorating the very first Grey Cup game at Rosedale Field in north Toronto.
RONA, a proud partner of the CFL, announced that it will mark this Canadian milestone with a special 100th Grey Cup legacy project by using its RONA Home-Field Advantage Program. Improvements at Rosedale Field and the refurbishment of another football field in the GTA are just two of many refurbishments RONA has undertaken over the last few years.
“The CFL is doing it right by creating a memorable Grey Cup celebration and RONA wants to contribute to make that memory last,” said Karim Salabi, Vice President Marketing for RONA.
“As this year is as much about a bright future for our league and our country as it is about our proud history, we decided to highlight our commitment to Canadian youth by rebuilding some of the fields where they play and grow.”
The Grey Cup, of course, has been awarded in the modern era to the champions of the professional Canadian Football League, which paid tribute today to the very first Grey Cup winners by recreating their 1909 team photo.
Current University of Toronto football players sporting specially commissioned replica 1909 uniforms were introduced by Professor David Naylor, President of the University of Toronto.
They were later joined by members of the Toronto Argonauts, sporting their new Reebok uniforms for 2012. And the event was attended by several prominent CFL alumni, including several past Grey Cup champions and Canadian Football Hall of Famers.
“A team from Toronto won the very first Grey Cup and it is our goal to complete the circle and both host and hoist the 100th Grey Cup here in Toronto this November,” said Chris Rudge, Executive Chairman and CEO, Toronto Argonauts and Chairman and CEO, 100th Grey Cup Festival.
“Off the field, we will send an invitation to our entire nation to join us in celebration on the streets of Toronto at the 100th Grey Cup Festival. We will provide both an unforgettable experience for CFL fans and transcend sport, offering everyone the opportunity to commemorate this iconic Canadian event and the 100th edition of Canada’s game.”
Toronto has hosted more Grey Cups than any other city – 45 of the 99 played so far. And the Argonauts have won more than anyone else, with 15 Grey Cup titles in all.
The 1909 game was attended by 3,807 fans. The 2012 game is sure to be played before a sellout crowd of more than 52,000 – the final public sale of tickets is scheduled for next month -- and a national television audience in the millions. The Festival is expected to attract tens of thousands of people, and millions in economic activity, to downtown Toronto.
The 2012 CFL season starts with the RONA Canada Day Kick Off: on Friday June 29 the Hamilton Tiger-Cats host the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the defending Grey Cup Champion British Columbia Lions welcome the Winnipeg Blue Bombers; on Saturday June 30th the Argos visit the Edmonton Eskimos; and on Canada Day July 1st the Montreal Alouettes are in Calgary to play the Stampeders.
Season tickets are available now. Single game tickets for all teams go on sale soon. All CFL games are broadcast in high definition on TSN, Canada’s Sports Leader.