Madani: Boatmen’s ship is sinking, on the field and off


Editor’s Note: Arash Madani is a reporter and commentator for Rogers Sportsnet. He is a weekly columnist for 3DownNation.

The Grey Cup is coming to Toronto next month. If you’d like tickets, Section 205 is available.

No, no, not a seat. The section.

Prefer the other side at BMO Field? No problem. About five rows are sold in Section 221. There are 20 other empty rows to pick from that are up for grabs there.

Want to be closer to the scoreboard? Over in Section 225, there are about as many vacant rows as there are pairs sold. You can shell out over a grand to take yourself and a friend.

For over $400 apiece, you give yourself the right to sit in the top row of the stadium around the 10-yard-line. Surrounded by… nobody.

Meanwhile, for under $250 down the street, you can get a 200-level ticket into an elimination game for the American League Championship Series – should Toronto get that far. The fate of the Blue Jays may be decided tonight. Those of the Argonauts pretty much have: don’t expect to see them anywhere near the 104th Grey Cup on Nov. 27.

The Titanic hit the iceberg Sunday afternoon, and Scott Milanovich knows it. Not just because his Argos were humiliated 38-11 in Montreal, but because the boat his men occupy is now taking on more water than they can handle.

On the radio broadcast, nearing the end of the drubbing, Argos analyst Jeff Johnson pointed to a real lack of leadership on the defensive side of the football.

Milanovich was as direct. “We’ve got some good football players here that I’m not sure are really committed to what we need to have take place,” the head coach told reporters after the four touchdown loss at Molson Stadium.

That’s where they are now, in finger-pointing mode with four games left.

“It’s little things like being late, not showing up prepared, screwing around and that’s where we’re at,” Milanovich said on Sunday.

So the next day, pink slips were issued. A team that can’t score points sent away four receivers, including two starters. Kevin Elliott, released. The Argos touchdown leader, Tori Gurley, now gone. So is Phil Bates. A Winnipeg source said Vidal Hazelton was dangled in trade talks by Toronto, but there was no interest. So he was released too. ‘The Big Three’ are now ‘The Street Three.’

After, in a team-issued press release, Milanovich was quoted as saying, “We remain committed to winning this year.”

Winning what, exactly?

Gurley and Hazelton were two of the Argos featured players in pre-season promotional shoots for the new adidas uniforms. Handpicked by the team. How far they’ve fallen, and fast. They weren’t making much money. Perhaps a raise was in their future, but if the plan is to win now, then what is the urgency to cut them loose with a month to go in the season?

Taylor Stubblefield is the gentleman that is the receivers’ coach of the Argonauts. What “screwing around” could have been going on in that meeting room, once the players presumably decided to show up for work, for it to regress this quickly?

Drew Willy, of course, will be safe. Nor should there be any reason for him not to be. But the panic to bring him in — at the cost of two draft picks, including a first rounder — speaks to how quickly the ship is sinking. Willy would have been released by Winnipeg in January because of the bonuses due in a cap hit that occupies $400,000. Now, the quarterback holds the leverage in case his new team approaches him about a re-structuring, er pay cut, in the new year. It was pure desperation that led to the September trade with Winnipeg, one brought about by making the wrong decision on the quarterback. Twice.

The Argos once had Zach Collaros and Trevor Harris, of course. Allowed both to reach free agency, and inexplicably didn’t make it a priority to lock them up long before their walk year. The Argos stayed committed to Ricky Ray, who has seemingly spent as much time on injured reserve as the active roster the past three seasons. They hoped that with Ray heathy in 2016 — wishful thinking — and their receiving corps intact, they’d be back in the post-season this November.

Which brings us to now, and 5-9, and the four big names sent out of town and a quarterback depth chart as dysfunctional as Stubblefield’s empty classroom. While Ray is pretty well cleared to play, he won’t for now. Some coaches in the league believe Ricky is done, no longer firing with the zip he once had, nor the requisite arm strength to be a legitimate threat anymore (if that’s true, that’s an unfortunate way to go out. Ray was the class of the league for so long, but Father Time remains undefeated). Then there’s Logan Kilgore, who has been all but written off, and Dan LeFevour is sticking around only as insurance if something goes wrong with Willy. He’s only starting because the Argos have no choice but to go with him to try and validate the trade, to try and evaluate what they have with the latest hope.

Even Milanovich admitted last week that ideally his new quarterback would get the chance to sit and learn “for four weeks.” Yet, by necessity, into the fire he went, and, well, 38-11 and 5-9 and then questions of manhood were circulated publicly.

“If you have guys with great character, you hold it together,” Milanovich said Sunday. “There are a couple of guys here and there who are maybe not on board as much as they need to be.”

Bring out the duct tape and the gum, four receivers have been cut.

This is not just a personnel issue anymore. Giving up what the Argos did in the trade to bring in Willy was a terrible move, and using the justification – that with hosting a Grey Cup comes a responsibility to try and get there – spoke to the desperation.

Then you look at the terrifying championship game ticket sales, and more blue dots on the ticket manifest than a Viagra convention. There’s the dozens and dozens of empty rows and entire sections available, and zero momentum building in the region leading into the title game, and it doesn’t get any better or easier.

The organization is expected to roll out television and radio advertisements to promote the Grey Cup after Thanksgiving. To try and sell overpriced seats in a stadium that can house around 34,000 and still is some $5 million (and over 10,000 tickets) short of sales targets. They’ll do so, knowing full well that they can’t even market the hope of their team getting there.

“We think for Toronto pricing, that’s just about right,” Sara Moore, the Argos senior VP of business operations, claimed to Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun back in July, of why they’re charging what they are for Grey Cup tickets.

“It’s a championship game,” Moore also told Simmons. “I’m not worried about (sales) at all.”

“I have a deep understanding of how to bring people back (to the Argos) and get new people in,” Mike Copeland, the team’s president, told Herb Zurkowsky of the Montreal Gazette.


The East Division is such a mess: Ottawa’s offensive line is in tatters with injuries; Collaros is banged up on a Hamilton team that’s sliding; Montreal, don’t be fooled, still is 4-9 and without a quarterback. And then there’s Toronto.

All signs are pointing toward the Eskimos competing in the East playoffs. Should Edmonton meet Calgary or B.C. on a cold November night along the lake, how would you sell that game to a city that barely acknowledges the CFL’s existence? A former Argos player sent a text message saying the 2016 Grey Cup has become the Bills in Toronto series all over again. We all know how that ended.

A crossover team playing for a championship probably means Section 205 won’t be the only sparsely attended one on Grey Cup Sunday. May need to re-think the level of worry, from top to bottom, as the Boatmen’s ship continues to sink – on and off the field.

Arash Madani

Arash Madani

Arash Madani is a reporter for Sportsnet. He has staffed 11 Grey Cups & does play-by-play for CIS Football. His dream: the Gaiters playing for a Vanier.
Arash Madani
Arash Madani
About Arash Madani (15 Articles)
Arash Madani is a reporter for Sportsnet. He has staffed 11 Grey Cups & does play-by-play for CIS Football. His dream: the Gaiters playing for a Vanier.
Contact: Website

84 Comments on Madani: Boatmen’s ship is sinking, on the field and off

  1. And arash couldn’t be happier.

    • Marc Lebut // October 4, 2016 at 10:58 am //

      Yup! And he forgot to mention Toronto has no QB.

      Why do you think LaPo let Willy go? Dan LeFevour running Bradynovitch O? Maybe but not so much, as it’s a pass happy O. Kilgore? Who’s Kilgore? Fajardo is their best hope, but not ready yet.

      You hardly read Arash with anything good about the CFL anyway. Says it all.

    • Jack is right on with his comment re. Madani. Why he is on a CFL site is beyond me. All he does is bad mouth the Canadian game and Rogers isn’t any better. Holding the CIS football rights and not televising a single regular season game is a joke!

  2. Good article. Not sure I agree that Mtl has no QB. They look like they’re in better shape than there Eastern rivals.

  3. Oh, so Mr. Mandani of Sportsnet has his say. A network that does virtually nothing, I repeat, nothing, to support the CFL. Conflating on-field concerns with GC ticket sales so as to paint as bad a picture as possible. Yes, indeed, things don’t look well; however, the only time one hears of Mr M is when he can pile on the Argos and the league as a whole. Such lack of perspective, to my mind, smacks of shoddy work.

  4. I have to agree, a lot of people in Toronto can say that the CFL doesn’t get enough attention yet they do nothing to support it during the season. They rarely attend games, they don’t buy merchandise, they would only watch the GC at the bare minimum on television. Now granted, the Argo’s haven’t been much to watch this season, but if fans decided to sell out the stadium from time to time then maybe the players might have some added energy. Toronto does have a lot of teams to share the spotlight, but the Maple Leafs have garnered much more attention and they haven’t even one a championship since 1967, and the Argo’s in 2012. I was even at a popular restaurant in Etobicoke and I noticed Chad Kackert sitting at the bar…nobody recognized him. THe GC MVP from 2012 and nothing. lol. It’s a damn shame.

  5. I couldn’t care less who Madani works for. I’d say his assessment of the East at this point in the season is realistic. I still keep my fingers crossed and hope some of our injured players( especially Luke Tasker) will be back soon and make a difference. I see more chance of success in the next month for the Tiger-Cats than Toronto or Ottawa. Montreal is on the way up..relatively speaking.
    However, any crossover could very well result in what we all know…..the western teams are playing much better football. If we end up with an all-western Grey Cup it will be better than watching Calgary steamroller whichever eastern team comes out on top.

  6. Why would this website hire a Rogers TV employee like Arash to report for you. His negative CFL reporting is the last thing you need on here. PUNT ARASH MADANI

    • Marc Lebut // October 4, 2016 at 11:07 am //

      I’d even say it’s ORDERED by his Sportsnet bosses to bash on CFL.

      When you never have a positive story about a league, it speaks volumes about your assignment. Pathetic.

      • It’s beyond pathetic, being a lackey for Rogers (called the most loathed company in Canada) and obviously proud of it.

        I always thought that the CFL was kind of a mom and pop league not a threat to anybody, but obviously it is a threat to Rogers or they wouldn’t act the way they do.

        Pitiful they would try and kill the only truly Canadian league when they get government protection to keep foreign competitors out (ie Verizon) while these vile scum want to bring the NFL in. Totally pathetic and totally disheartening that 3downnation is helping to contribute to this.

    • Why would 3downnation hire Trash Madani, noted Rogers shill and CFL hater? Talk about putting the wolf in the henhouse, Sometimes I wonder if there isn’t a conspiracy to kill the CFL.

      3downnation you do realize hiring a guy like this will help kill this website or does it have Rogers connections as well?

      • Given that there are more than 45 comments on this story in less than a day, it’s likely gotten a lot of hits and reads. Sounds like a good thing for this website, in my opinion.

        • My thoughts exactly. Madani’s style can be irritating at the best of times but it creates a buzz. If the intention is to stir some honest debate about the sad state of professional football in Toronto then it has met its goal. Honest debate may hurt at times but its a start to trying to solve the Argo stain on this great league.

        • Of course it is a good thing for this website, making up controversy and negative stories always attracts people, just like car wrecks. I’m just sorry that I felt I had to register my disgust and contribute to giving them more hits and justifying more of a future of this kind of garbage.

          What I guess they don’t understand is perpetuating bad news whether true or perceived isn’t going to be good for the league or good for this site’s health either.

          But if it gives them hits short term and they are short sighted, they’ll eventually pay for being dumb enough to put the wolf in the henhouse.

  7. CFL tickets in Toronto are way overpriced. And the justification is, “because it’s Toronto pricing, it’s about right”?
    My $62 seats at BMO were $30 in Winnipeg for similar spot.
    Winnipeg has a new stadium with higher demand, yet, prices are double in Toronto. Then you wonder why Argo fans stay away.
    I’ve followed this team to Ottawa and Hamilton this year, as well as 3 home games….I’ve seen one entertaining half of football over those 5 games, and only 1 win.
    Did I mention I pay $62/ticket for lousy football in the upper level on the 30 yard line at BMO, yet, have tickets to tonight’s wildcard game – playoffs for the most popular team in town with crazy demand for tickets – for $61/ticket.

    And you wonder why people don’t watch the Argos?

    I’ve watched the Argos in Winnipeg, Montreal, Hamilton, Ottawa and Toronto over the last couple years. Been a fan since 2005.
    I won’t attend any home games next year.

    The people running the team – president Copeland down to Jim Barker and Scott Milanovich – are all CLUELESS.
    Tell me again, why we got rid of Chad Owens?

  8. Thomas Riddell // October 4, 2016 at 10:55 am //

    Again CFL Needs to change it’s Format EAST VS WEST needs to go
    1 Division 9 Teams

    Top 4 Make the Playoffs

    1 Seed vs 3 Seed
    2 Seed vs 4 Seed

    This force Teams to Get Better or Fail

  9. Terry Baxter // October 4, 2016 at 10:57 am //

    Very sad to see the situation in Toronto. I had hoped that there wasn’t least 25,000 diehard fans in Toronto who would come out to wat the Argos at BMO. I’m sure the grey cup will be well attended. Once the finalists are determined I’m sure their fan bases will step up. Toronto should not have been just given the grey up game this year. The CFL should of waited to see the fan interest for the Argos prior. Alas….. And yes the argos have stayed too long at the dance with Ricky Ray. They should have kept Harris. I think barker that it would be easy to find the next qb. Well, we are seeing how that worked out lol

  10. Pricing comparable for Toronto??? Just because housing market is overpriced doesn’t mean GC tickets s/be too. Not to mention that not all Argo fans are from T.O. so you need to consider cost for ALL fans. Might be wise for the Argos to hire a Survey Company to email all those who bought tickets in the last two years to really get a clue on their fan base… age, location, income, etc.
    I think cost of tickets for BMO, along with a losing team isn’t helping the Argos fill the stadium during home games.

  11. Jimbobray // October 4, 2016 at 11:29 am //

    I don’t care where Madani comes from, he is right on target with his analysis of the disaster the Argos have become under the Panglossian twins Barker and Milanovich. These guys, in their inexplicable anxiety and madness, have ruined the Argos in a couple of short CFL seasons, as well as their own reputations. Only the desperate would ever hire these clowns to work in the CFL again. Seems to me all this player activity and blaming is but a smokescreen to mask the total incompetence of Barker and Milanovich. If Argo owners wake up they’ll quickly see through this crap and fire the two architects of this destruction.

    • Ron Bates // October 4, 2016 at 12:38 pm //

      hi jim , pricing is to restore a modicum of respect and quality to a game that has not disappointed ever. The All conference finals came close as could happen this year. It is pro sports and you end the problem as you see fit, pricing isn’t one right now.

  12. Ron Bates // October 4, 2016 at 12:34 pm //

    Yes the executive suite knows the score and how to deal with the the Argos troubles. As all around them lose their heads the Executives maintain poise and deliberation. Poor choices, extended coaches deals and a GM who demonstrated little except so called US contacts but unable to put them into professional position, seem to create the combination attempting to bluff ownership and executives. The players released followed by example. Harsh statement for a fan. The Grey Cup has men attending to it that demonstrated such little respect that the game one at BMO should have rang all the alarm bells if not during the previous season. Embarrassing hype and problems too visible to fans and business. The Cup will survive, the game will go on and with real effort a 34,000 sellout. Conditions apply!

  13. “Montreal, don’t be fooled, still is 4-9 and without a quarterback.”
    That’s pretty funny. Cato made you eat those words the a 144.293 QB rating, 4 TD’s and 0 INT’s. And WE don’t have a quarterback?
    Normally I wouldn’t be “trolling” around posts about other teams, but since this site has barely even MENTIONED my Alouettes 38-11 drubbing of the Argos, let alone deigned to write an article about their magnificent turnaround…except to point out the DAMAGE Cato and the Als have left in their wake…so…
    Let’s calculate Willy’s QB rating on the night…shall we?
    24/35 for 226 yards passing, 0 TD’s and 1 INT…
    Passer Rating: 74.226 yikes!
    And for anyone who takes pleasure in pointing out Cato barely broke 200 yards passing, I’d like to humbly point out that 3 of those 4 TD passes just happened to be to the back of a 20yd deep endzone. All three were “shortish” bombs (30-40 yds in the air), one from the right hash to the opposite corner of the endzone. I’ll take THAT over the number of 300yd games Cato passed for in a loss.
    One down…two to go ALS GO!!!

  14. Jimmy Breslin // October 4, 2016 at 12:39 pm //

    Madani is basically a hatchet guy for his bosses. Their Igor. He will perk up and trash the league like an excited puppy, his intentions are well known hence no concern about anything he might pen. I wonder how many stories he’s authored dealing with Sportnet’s so far disastrous NHL venture. He’s a clown. That said it’s also time for the league to take a very hard look at moving or simply folding the Argos. Toronto just does not care for football period ! – when a city like Ottawa with a fraction of the population of the GTA packs them in at every home game you just know you’re in a lousy market for your product when only 12 to 15 thousand bother showing up. Add in the fact that the local media only talk about the Argos when it’s time to go negative and you know that team is doomed. The league might ultimately be stronger with only 8 teams, we forget Canada only has seven NHL franchises. The old argument that TO is the media hub of the country only works when they actually do cover you. The local sports people abandoned this team a long time ago. Plenty of shame to go round in this sad story.

  15. Arash Madani only reports negatively on the CFL otherwise he won’t report anything about the league at all. The guy is a 2nd rate hack and his opinion does not matter.

  16. Ron Bates // October 4, 2016 at 12:59 pm //

    Lets play a board game, CFL East and it is based on the consequences of GM decisions and Head Coach execution of strategy. Every player and this means four, rolls the dice to pick a team and select it’s GM and Head Coach. Rolls of the dice will create player performance and wins and losses. Crisis, when disastrous events occur during transition era that is to be an upswing of all teams runs into events that threaten image but also integrity. All football choices are open and limited only by players understanding and knowledge of the CFL East.

  17. Madani loves nothing more than piling on when there is any sort of negative story. Toronto missed the boat, so to speak, by being too aggressive on both their regular season and Grey Cup pricing, over-estimating the appeal of a new stadium. This is a fact, and has been reported and discussed since July. Why does Madani need to do another full-page hatchet job on it now, with no new insight, and no attempt to either acknowledge that he is rehashing old news or provide some sort of informed analysis other than “the sky is falling!!!!”

    The timing of the receiver changes in Argoland is odd, indeed, but again Madani makes no attempt to provide any context or analysis. I would love to see 3 Down Nation provide some sort of analysis of it. After reading this, I am still waiting.

  18. Arash is simply creating an important discussion in Toronto that needs to be addressed. I think its time to admit that the ticket pricing structure and marketing in Toronto is a colossal failure. “We think for Toronto pricing, that’s just about right” is completely naïve or just brain dead. I can understand the value paradox meaning that if admission prices are too low there is no perceived value in the product. True to some extent, however for as much as I love the CFL (season ticket holder for 22 years here in Calgary), the ticket buying public in the big markets won’t pay as much or more for a ticket than the “big leagues” of the NFL, NHL, etc. Tickets in Toronto are easily double what they are out here in Alberta, in a market where there is no demand. The laws of supply and demand should naturally dictate that pricing would adjust accordingly. If the Argos had a big league product then perhaps you could charge the big league prices. Until that happens (which could be a long time), overhaul your marketing strategy NOW and get some butts in the seats to create some interest. If not then this could be the nail in the coffin for the franchise.

  19. Let me start by saying I’m biased. I love the CFL, and when I say that, I mean I really love the CFL! I drive 100 km each way to watch the Ticats play every home date. I even married an Argo Cheerleader (which proves that love does, indeed, conquer all). So, it infuriates me when I see a packed Tim Horton’s Field each week, and then go to watch a game in Toronto with an announced a crowd of 15,000, which is clearly more like 11,000. I agree with some other posters that the city, and it’s Toronto-based national sports channels, do little or nothing to promote a game that is faster, more entertaining, and certainly less boring, than its NFL counterpart. Toronto may not need the CFL but, whether we like it or not, the CFL still needs Toronto. Other cities have competition from the NHL and MLS but seem to make it work. What Toronto sports fans need to do is dislodge their heads from their nether regions and realize what a fun, family friendly product they have. Likewise, Argo management needs to recognize that basic standard of business; that you can only charge what the market bares, and right now, they are figuratively and literally out of the ballpark.

    • Jimmy Breslin // October 4, 2016 at 3:09 pm //

      Totally with you Steve and the other poster from Calgary.

      You both make excellent points except for that long held tenet that the league must have Toronto. Of course that would be the preferred choice – by far !! – but how long can you keep up the facade that there actually is a viable fan base in Toronto for football, at any level. The didn’t come out for the NFL and they certainly do not support the CIS (University) brand. As pertains the Argos management, these are intelligent people, how they so badly misunderstood their oh so fragile market as you both suggest is beyond baffling. That strategy further damaged the team’s chances of ever gaining traction with the buying public.

      Sad to say but I really fear football is dead in Hogtown.

      • “Sad to say but I really fear football is dead in Hogtown.”

        As it was in Ottawa, Montreal, Hamilton, Calgary, and Regina. And yet they all bounced back, which is why it is so disappointing to see this website take a tack of negative reporting that does ZERO to help the situation and piles on to make the perception worse.

        I understand that some “reporters” gotta eat but I wonder how they can look in the mirror.

      • Jimmy, I remember not so long ago going to the back end of the Labour Day Home & Home to see the Cats and Argos duel at old Exhibition Stadium, and there would be 50,000+ in attendance. Toronto used to be a great football town and, although that was pre-Blue Jays and Raptors, the Argo ownership has let that slip away without a fight, which might be the saddest part of it. A string of Trump-like buffoons who saw the franchise as nothing more than a tax dodge destroyed that culture in Toronto. I hate the Stinking’ Argos but, much like the debate about Quebec and it’s Canadian ties, My CFL will always include the Boatmen!

  20. Question for the editor of – why did you choose to post a picture “BMOEmpty.jpg” on the front page that was not taken during a game? I get that a shot of empty grandstands is going to support Madani’s editorial mission to paint the Argos in as poor a light as possible, but using a shot taken during some sort of pregame ceremony (who knows how long before the game it was taken, or if it was even a game day) is either sloppy journalism or intentionally misleading. Either way, it is disappointing to see.

  21. Justin Thomas // October 4, 2016 at 4:52 pm //

    I am not sure that Arash Madani actually watches any CFL games. To say the RB o line is in tatters doesn’t jive with that fact that they gave up one sack and protected Harris well enough to throw for almost 500 yards last week vs BC. BC by the way is the 2nd best team in the west. I am not sure that Arash is aware of that. I am all for calling a spade a spade and the ticket prices are insane. Having said that, the opposite of love is not hate, its indifference. If Arash were indifferent to the CFL that is fine (weird considering he used to be employed by one of its member clubs). But his hate on for the league is baffling.

    • Jimmy Breslin // October 4, 2016 at 7:00 pm //

      Answer Justin he doesn’t ! – had he he would have seen a fantastic football game that was basically decided by an errant chop block penalty that never was. Ottawa was moving in for a FG attempt that would have put them in the lead late and given the Lions one more shot at marching it down the field. (a classic CFL finish) Bottom line the REDBLACKS O line was solid all night and proved that that team at least can compete with the West. None of this will have dawned on Madani of course and we all know why.

  22. When 3downnation first came online I thought it was a great idea. Now that you’ve employed Trash Madani, I can’t see sticking around here anymore.

    This biased, agenda based, Howard Stern “shock jock” stuff is not for me. If you want to be controversial just to get eyeballs, well I’m just a little too old for that kidstuff.

    Just one question, I thought I read somewhere that 3downnation has some sort of working agreement with Rogers, is that true?

    • Hmmm … I don’t recall seeing many items by Madani versus the other contributors.

      Skipping the rest of the content seems like throwing the baby out with the bath water but whatever you prefer …

  23. Speaking of agenda based hacks what’s Paul Friesen up to these days. I’ve never seen him write anything positive about the league, he’d be a good one to hire.

  24. Get rid of Madani for all the reasons stated. Got to wonder if he checked his facts any better than he did for the Kent Austin story. He reflects poorly on 3 Down Nation and doesn’t belong on here.

    • I am sure it will be spun that everything in the article is the truth and that says may be. But when one writer has so obvious an bias and agenda that people actually employed by the league step out of their positions and call him out on it reveals something to me.

      We as fans of the league know there are issues but why does this one writer constantly focus on these negative issues that we already know and not report on the million positive stories. It is sheer laziness.

      I actually reported and gave Madani the benefit of the doubt on his Bombers/O’Shea story. I didn’t think his attitude would last but I also didn’t think it would only last for one story.

      Why 3downation why? There are enough CFL haters out there why do it from within?

    • “He reflects poorly on 3 Down Nation and doesn’t belong on here.”

      They’re probably happy with all the hits I’ve been giving them because they hired the anti CFL Rogers shill

  25. Much of what he says is accurate. But the delivery stinks. Much of reads like he has an agenda. The Argos and the CFL will never be the same in T.O.
    As a Cats’ fan, I can and feel a huge difference between the games in the two cities. Unfortunately, for the Argos, Torontonians as a whole see themselves more as an American city. As a sports fan in Toronto, all of my colleagues and friends have no care for the Argos and the CFL as a whole. They follow the NFL and know little of the CFL. This mindset will not change unfortunately.

    • Good comment. Makes me wonder so what how accurate he is, it’s all negative to the point of being detrimental to out league

    • That’s complete nonsense about Torontonians seeing themselves as American. They are staunchly Canadian and all you had to do to see that was watch the great support they gave to Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey.

      You’re correct when you say Torontonians have “no care for the Argos and the CFL as a whole.” They also really don’t give the slightest damn about major junior hockey, which has failed miserably in several attempts in the Toronto area.

      But go to a Jays game and you will see a rabid pro-Canada attitude. At the World Cup of Hockey, the Americans were roundly abused, as was Boston Bruins Zdeno Chara, playing for Team Europe.

      The Raptors games are always an exercise in waving the maple leaf. Toronto FC fans are renowned for their passionate renditions of Oh Canada.

      Your completely wrong in portraying Torontonians as thinking they are American. They had a big chance to wear that mantle during the Buffalo Bills series in Toronto and they whole-heartedly rejected it.

      They just couldn’t care less about the CFL. It’s time the CFL delivered a better product to earn back interest in a massively competitive market.

      • Odd … the Torontonians I worked with bluntly said they’d prefer the bush league Argos closed up shop to speed up the much better NFL coming to town.

        I guess they didn’t realise that the better league has better prices.

        • Robin (from THE city) // October 6, 2016 at 1:34 pm //

          Your friends’ attitude about the NFL is much like Buck Showalter’s wait and see about using Britton yesterday…

          waiting on something that will never come….and we all know how the Orioles fared….

          • That’s what was ironic.

            They were sure that the Argos demise would usher in a new era of NFL football. It didn’t seem to matter that the NFL commissioner of the time has flatly said “not in my lifetime” or that American cities were offering huge incentives for an NFL team.

  26. Jimmy Breslin // October 4, 2016 at 6:44 pm //

    That Argo-town indifference will eventually kill off the team and that’s sad but, hey, it is the market place, decades of poor ownership and whatever else have done their dirty work, but remember this folks. A centuries old franchise, part of Toronto’s very DNA, will be lost and once it’s gone it very well may never come back. That may please Arash Madani and his masters no end but to me it is a tragic loss.

  27. I don’t think he’s far off. You cannot price the CFL at MLB, NHL, or NBA prices. You can (and should) price above the MLS, but find a soft spot between that and the other three.

    The Grey Cup can be priced as a premium event, but only to a point. $400 seems over the top, even as a destination event.

    All that said, there is an underlying problem that gets no attention: TSN continues to apply a standard to their production values that makes this league look amateur. You cannot complete for fans in TO (or Vancouver) when your lead (only) broadcaster makes you look bush league. Their graphics packages are 10 years out of date. While Stegall’s a star and Climie’s close, the rest of their panelists are meh at best (OK is just not good enough). Of their booth crews, Suits and CC are excellent … the rest are bloody awful (and that’s generous). Rod Black is dreadful. Dunigan might be OK in studio, dreadful in the booth. Duane Forde would probably be good as a CFL version of Mike Florio or Adam Schefter, but not in the booth. They still use the same stodgy camera angles. No innovation, nothing new, no polish. All in all, TSN makes the CFL look second rate and it’s hurting attendance in the major cities (can’t speak to RDS and Montreal).

    The Argos need to fix their ticket pricing, need to market better, need to play better … but the CFL needs to help by putting the boots to TSN to do something about the abysmal product going out over the airwaves.

  28. Lower ticket prices to $40 max down to $5 endzones and the place will be full all season.

  29. Brandon Atkinson // October 4, 2016 at 9:28 pm //

    Hey look its a rogers employee putting down the Argos and the cfl again… Fuck off arash.

  30. Agree with Tom…

    As I have previously mentioned, I tried to get some cheap tix from the Argos for kids in my school who play flag football in the appropriately named CFL. Most of the kids are from new Canadian families. The Argos employee who, I believe, was Ms. Ferrone. Well, she quoted me a price of over $20 a ticket. Best part of it all was finding cheaper seats on kijiji.

    What a joke….

  31. I don’t always agree with what Madani writes, but he does make some good points.

    However, I don’t think it’s right to tie the challenges of Grey Cup ticket sales to the drama going on within the team. Despite the lure of home team ticket sales, they’re separate issues. If you want to tie anything marketing-related to the team’s fortunes (or misfortunes), connect the dots to the challenges of making the Argos a successful entertainment business in Toronto again, which is what the move to BMO was meant to help address. There is a LOT of work to be done with that, and while nobody reasonable expected an instant turnaround, I think the results have been less than hoped for to date.

    As for the Grey Cup, I do think the pricing was way out of whack and it’s been poorly marketed. There’s still time to turn that around, but it’s going to take some drastic measures especially at the last minute if the match-up doesn’t start moving the rest of the available tickets.

  32. I have read so many posts on the topic of the blogger lovers but this
    post is actually a good article, keep it up.

  33. This guy should get a job for the CFLS marketing! Suspend the coach, don’t go to Argo games, baseball is a better deal than Grey Cup! Someone please purge this anti-cfl writter from this spot

    • So you want to stick your head in the sand and pretend everything’s fine?

      • Quint – I think that we are happy to hear from anyone with a positive agenda to improve the league. We just resent hearing from someone working for an organization that competes in the same market – with an agenda that is entirely self-serving but undeclared.

        • “We just resent hearing from someone working for an organization that competes in the same market – with an agenda that is entirely self-serving but undeclared.”

          If that can be translated to mean they would be happy to see the CFL go out of business (according to one of their own on air employees), I can agree with your quote.

    • Jeff … yep

  34. I’m hearing after all the turmoil (that made the news) the Als are going to have another big crowd. Will we hear about that from Trash, i don’t think so.

  35. I love the CFL passionately. It is one of the great forces in forging a Canadian identity, in establishing unique tradiitions and in linking Canadians ever more strongly together.

    But the time has come to end the madness in Toronto. Clearly, the city will never sufficiently support lower level pro sports. The city has evolved past the point where winning a Grey Cup matters enough to make people care.

    You don’t hear the CFL being talked about in ordinary, everyday conversations with Torontonians. Mention the Blue Jays or Raptors nowadays and their eyes light up. Mention the Maple Leafs and you’ll hear quiet optimism. Mention Toronto FC and you might be shocked to hear the respect that club is developing after an early history of poor play and bad management. They have over 20,000 season ticket holders now.

    Mention the Argos and all you hear are crickets. No one has a clue who plays for them or what their situation is regarding playoffs or Grey Cup chances. It isn’t like some willful, civic decision that people have chosen to ignore the Argos. They just have so much more to focus on and the teams they do support play against the best teams in those sports from the US or Canada.

    The CFL is becoming a cute, almost cult-like thing in Canada’s major cities. The support for the CFL is being whittled down in not only Toronto, but Montreal and Vancouver, by the presence of a highly successful soccer team that takes away certain amounts of media coverage, sponsor support and fan interest. The MLS teams are only getting bigger.

    Without those three markets strongly supporting the CFL, the league is in big trouble.

    • Jimmy Breslin // October 5, 2016 at 8:46 pm //

      I guess you haven’t been paying too much attention to the overall tv ratings of both sports. If there is one niche sport in this country it’s soccer. The CFL absolutely buries MLS when it comes to viewing preferences in Canada, even in southern Ontario. MLS draws fans to their games, and yes they are very loyal, but as far as national relevancy goes football owns soccer. MLS draws flies in the ratings. Sorry to burst your bubble but that’s just the way it is. I totally agree with you regarding Toronto. It is sad and painful given the long history of the Argos with their city but the league needs to get out of there asap. Why stick around where you aren’t wanted or appreciated. Take a drive to Ottawa one day, catch a REDBLACKS game, then you might understand the passion some have for the game. Something Toronto had but lost a long time ago.

      As far as I’m concerned it’s their loss.

      • You are right about national TV ratings for each sport. But just because, as you say, “that’s the way it is’ doesn’t mean that’s the way it is always going to be.

        If the CFL is drawing so many eyeballs to TV sets, how come attendance is dropping in crucial markets like Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal? Are thinning CFL crowds something that should be shown on TV? Toronto’s crowds are a complete embarrassment for the league.

        Despite strong crowds in the west, the CFL overall runs on very thin profit margins, almost all of it generated by substantial subsidies from TSN, a sports network in dire need of a strong property to televise having lost the NHL to Rogers for the next 11 seasons.

        You are aware that CFL clubs in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto have gone bankrupt twice each? The league has had to operate the Toronto franchise or have David Braley secretly fund the ownership tenure of Howard Sokolowski and David Cynamon.

        With Major League Soccer clubs now in the three biggest Canadian markets all showing strong attendance, corporate support and media presence, the CFL has enormous challenges ahead of it to stay viable.

        I’m an older person who remembers well the glory days of the CFL and the Argonauts were a must-watch presence in Toronto.

        It’s sad to say, but those days are gone forever. There’s just too much top-flight sports competition for the CFL to ever again catch hold in Toronto.

    • Robin (from THE city) // October 6, 2016 at 1:13 pm //

      I love the CFL, been attending games and watching on TV for generations.

      Meantime, the Jays are in the playoffs. The Raptors had a great playoff run themselves last season.

      The argos have been awful, even with a new stadium.

      Hard to get people to spend money on football when the product is so bad.

    • Interesting that no one in Toronto knows who the Argos players or results yet it isn’t willful.

      I can recall riding the TTC in the morning and trying to figure out why a Jays game that finished well after the Argos – Edmonton game had enough time to provide the box score plus articles but the Argos box score had a “late game, results tomorrow”.

      While I can see the point about the Jays, Raptors or TFC getting the press early in the sports segments … but what filled up the remainder wasn’t the Argos or anything remotely close to popular sports.

      It seems to me to be wilful & pitiful to be wasting space on a box score but not bothering to put a score.

  36. You might be surprised to learn that Madmani writes a CFL “Insider” column on Sportsnet’s website. His latest article was published on July 5th and reads “Madmani: CFL Fails…” I guess you get his drift?

    Why this CFL fansite would allow him to spew his veiled vitriol is hard to understand…unless the Hamilton Spectator (Toronto Star) holds the same anti-CFL view as Rogers employees? I believe Drew is genuine but perhaps he’s the unfortunate pawn in a mug’s game.

    Please be advised that I’m deleting this website from my bookmarks and will no longer read or quote the articles here.

    • The best thing to do is register a complaint with Drew about how disappointed you are that 3DN has taken the road to negative journalism to cause controversy and get hits to the site. It’s a short term solution and will not help the league or grow the product.

      You had the best solution, get rid of the bookmark and don’t play a part to this.

      The email is available at the About US menu at the top of the page.
      [email protected]

      • Robin (from THE city) // October 6, 2016 at 1:07 pm //


        Writers are NOT cheerleaders.

        If the truth is too hard to handle for you, go to the library and take out some fairy tale books.

    • How many Sportsnet or Toronto paper for that matter, have articles about *anything* regarding the CFL?

      You might not like this particular article but it seems to me that when you add in all the team articles and other stuff – 3downnation, the Hamilton Spec (Toronto Star) are taking a strange path to being anti-CFL.

      Toronto media outlets have had a hand in the drop in interest just by ignoring the CFL completely.

      • Robin (from THE city) // October 6, 2016 at 1:43 pm //

        Toronto sun has regular CFL features, even on the Tiger cats. Toronto star not so much.

        Sportsnet has a page on their site dedicated to the CFL. TSN, of course. CBC.CA often contains CFL articles.

        I’ve seen CFTO and City TV report on CFL games.

        Not sure where you get your assumption??

  37. Ian Brown // October 6, 2016 at 9:28 am //

    The Grey Cup will sell out, guaranteed. This guy is a moron if he thinks otherwise.

    There is something truly un-Canadian about Rogers and Sportsnet with their anti-CFL B.S. Shame on them.

  38. Robin (from THE city) // October 6, 2016 at 1:04 pm //

    Toronto has hosted this game twice in the last four years. Ho hum..they may not see it as special anymore.

    argos play this season and last was not good. Ricky Ray has spent more time on the first aid table then he has on the field.

    Barker has done an awful job of stocking talent, including keeping the wrong quarterback.

    Tickets for the Grey cup game this fall is ridiculously expensive.

    No wonder there are so many unsold seats this late.

  39. If the Grey Cup is drawing low interest in Toronto, we can hardly blame the messengers for delivering bad news.

    If there is blame to be assigned, blame the CFL.

    The Grey Cup was held in Toronto in 2012 and the host Toronto Argonauts won it. Within two years, their season ticket base had fallen to below 4,000.

    How could such an incredible thing happen in a city starved for a champion to cheer for?

    Cynics abound in Toronto and many sports fans looked at how the Ricky Ray trade was ‘engineered’ with Edmonton as a basis for their skepticism about the league.

    Why would a contending western team trade away the best QB in the league to Toronto? The answer can only be that the league directed the deal in order to prop up the Argos and give them a better chance to win.

    So they won battle and hoisted the cup. But the widespread skepticism those circumstances generated means they have lost the war.

    And been hoisted on their own petard. Ouch.

  40. DundasDude // October 6, 2016 at 8:45 pm //

    How did Rogers do with bringing the Bills to Toronto? It would make more sense to have stories about the CFL written by those who care about the League and watch it. Go Cats!

  41. I sit on the 40 yard line in the lower level at BMO. The regular season single ticket price is $75 (not the STH discounted ticket, which is $65) Before choosing my season ticket for this year at BMO, I did a comparison to the other CFL teams’ tickets, also on the 40 yard line, lower level and just researched it again. For those of you who think Argos tickets are overpriced, here are the results from other CFL teams:
    Ti-Cats $83.50 (Labour Day $98.50)
    Als $124.00
    REDBLACKS $98.00
    Esks $87.00
    Stamps $104.00
    Lions $90.00
    Blue Bombers $94.75
    Riders $90.00

  42. Comparing ticket prices for the Argos and other CFL clubs is completely irrelevant.

    The Argos are now distributing so many free tickets that there is no point in paying for them anymore.

    The Argos have incensed season ticket holders who jumped in early to buy seats only to discover that those sitting nearby were often in using freebies.

    Here’s the worst part about this deal for the Argos – there’s simply no incentive to renew or buy more season tickets next season. There are so many empty seats at every game that, even if you buy the cheapest price ticket, you can just move into the most expensive seats by the middle of the first quarter. There’s always plenty to choose from.

    Why plunk down a big chunk of money for season tickets when you can pick and choose which games you want to see or which game dates best suit you or even just go on a whim the morning of a game and either get handouts on the CNE grounds or buy at face value or less from a scalper.

    Everyone thought BMO Field would be the salvation of the Argos. Instead, the new stadium has only served to emphasize what little interest there is for the CFL in Toronto.

  43. Dick Dinelle // October 9, 2016 at 9:56 pm //

    …. and Arash couldn’t be happier. What an idiotic comment. Arash is just pointing out the obvious as I’m sure he is concerned about the Toronto situation as are all true fans of the CFL. It’s imperative that Toronto have a competitive team in this league. Even Hamilton fans who despise the Argos are concerned. A lot of their shortcomings are due to past ownership selling a bill of goods to the new owners by hosting a Grey Cup game. The league itself and it’s new invisible commissioner is partly to blame for the terrible schedule they inflicted on the Argonauts with Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday games. If you don’t want to conflict with the Blue Jays, check their schedule as it comes out long before the CFL schedule. As for Grey Cup ticket prices, regardless of the fact that the Argos are not going to be in it, are absolutely obscene. Two years ago in Vancouver, I was able to buy a $400.00 (Top Price)on the street for $50.00 because BC was not in the game. I wonder how much I will have to pay for a $799.00 ticket this year now that Argos are cooked. I hope Ottawa learn from this as they are the host city next year and not try to get their investment back on the back of Grey Cup ticket sales.

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