TORONTO - The Grey Cup is coming to Toronto in 2012.
And the championship will generate more economic activity than when the Grey Cup was last played in Toronto in 2007, according to CFL officials.
In a loud, star-studded presentation in downtown Toronto that featured CFL bigwigs, Mayor Rob Ford and former Toronto Argonauts Michael “Pinball” Clemons and Damon Allen, it was officially announced that Toronto will host the 100th Grey Cup Festival and championship game next year.
And the economic gains that will come with next year’s Grey Cup will not only be a boon to the city, one official said, they will eclipse the benefits that came with the game in 2007.
“This will be bigger,” said Chris Rudge, CEO of the Grey Cup Festival. “Clearly, we’ve progressed from 2007 ... It will engage more of the country, so we’re hopeful that the level of (economic) activity is well north of $100 million provincially.”
Toronto’s Grey Cup celebration of 2007 generated $80 million in economic activity for the province — $53 million for the city — according to a study by the Canadian Sports Tourism Alliance. It also meant 475 new jobs, and the influx of more than 28,000 visitors who spent money in Toronto’s restaurants, on taxi cabs, and on hotels.
“The last time we had a Grey Cup held here, we ran nearly full,” said Terry Mundell, president of the Greater Toronto Hotel Association. “It was one of those events where after the event, we looked at each other and said, ‘We’d love to have it back.’”
Mundell also said that if Toronto’s 30,000 hotel rooms are full, “then stores are busy, restaurants are busy, taxi cabs are busy.”
Ford, who has talked of bringing an NFL team to Toronto, described the Grey Cup as the largest annual sporting event in Canada.
“This will ... be of great economic benefit, and bring thousands of die-hard CFL fans to our great city,” he added.
The Grey Cup Festival will span Nov. 16-25, hitting its zenith on the night of the league’s championship game at Rogers Centre. The days leading up to the game will feature football-themed events, including a film festival, a downtown interactive family zone, beer gardens and a pre-game tailgate party.
Toronto’s first Grey Cup game was in 1909. The University of Toronto and the Parkdale Canoe Club — then, both registered with the Canadian Rugby Union — squared off at Rosedale Field on Dec. 9 with Toronto taking the cup.