Grey-t party in the works

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach checks out a few names on the Grey Cup Wednesday at Flames Central. SUN...

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach checks out a few names on the Grey Cup Wednesday at Flames Central. SUN MEDIA/Jim Wells

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:43 AM ET

Scott Ackles raised expectations for Grey Cup festivals in 2005 when he helped bring in a Hollywood starlet to Vancouver.

Ever since Pamela Anderson was parade marshall three years ago, the Grey Cup party has blossomed to become better every year.

So the pressure is on the Calgary Stampeders president to produce something huge when this city hosts Grey Cup 2009, which was officially announced yesterday.

"We're planning on going to Montreal to see what they do (this November) and seeing how we can one-up them," said Ackles, who was general manager of the 2005 Grey Cup in Vancouver.

"The festival has progressively become a world-class event. We're planning on hosting the best event ever until that point in history. We're going to put the 97th Grey Cup on the map.

"In Vancouver, we set the bar high, then went out and achieved our goal. That's probably why I'm standing here talking with you today. I'm extremely pleased and excited to take on the challenge again."

Stampeders fans invented the Grey Cup festival back in 1948 when they rode a horse into the Royal York Hotel in Toronto. The team capped a perfect season that year for its first title.

In recent years, big-name musical acts and high-end parties have become the norm, but Stampeders managing partner Ted Hellard hopes to provide something for everyone in 2009.

"We want the festival to be big, but we want it to be as common as we can," Hellard said. "Calgary is a big corporate town, but we don't want it just be a corporate festival.

"We want everyone to experience it as well. In my younger years, I didn't have money to buy a ticket to the game.

"So I want everyone to have a good experience whether or not they are one of the 45,000 in the stadium."

Although there isn't enough time to make improvements to McMahon Stadium, the Stamps will bring in temporary seating to up the capacity by about 8,000.

The city hasn't hosted the big game since 2000, so it is basically the Stampeders' turn in the rotation, but commissioner Mark Cohon said he is pleased with the ownership group and support from Calgary's community and business leaders.

Cohon officially granted the Stamps the '09 Cup at Flames Central yesterday with Mayor Dave Bronconnier and Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach both present.

With Montreal hosting this year, Calgary will be Cohon's first Grey Cup played in Western Canada. Last year was the first time he presented the trophy as commish, which cemented his feeling as to how important the championship is to Canada.

"It blew me away in terms of the importance of the Grey Cup," Cohon said.

"I played football in high school, so I knew.

"But that made me realize the importance the Grey Cup has in our country. I didn't completely understand it until the moment I handed it out."


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