The Big Owe will be rockin'

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, Last Updated: 9:34 AM ET

Sure, the Calgary Stampeders will be there.

The team and their fans - the spiritual descendants of those who first inspired the modern definition of Grey Cup spirit back in 1948 when the pioneers invaded Toronto with their hats, a horse and a hearty fondness for prairiegrained beverages.

Sure, the Montreal Alouettes will be there, playing in front of fans that once lost them, then welcomed them back with a passion that exceeded the first time around.

But the third element of Sunday's 96th Grey Cup Classic is the building in which it will be played.

Ladies and gentleman, madames et monsieurs, le troisieme etoile - le Stade Olympique. Yes, the Big O. Better known as the BigOwe.

BACKUP PLAN

The Alouettes 2.0 became a great CFL success when they left the concrete monument to outstretched dreams, moving downtown to the ancient but intimate, 20,000-seat McGill (Molson Percival) Stadium.

But, hey, it's nice to have a backup plan, an extra stadium kicking around.

Hosting a playoff game and need space for several thousand more? Hosting the nation's biggest sports party? Throw in a few extra deck chairs and prepare to cook burgers and pour pints for 60,000-plus patrons.

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It looked great on paper: an indoor-outdoor stadium.The concept was ahead of its time. The reality? Behind. On overdue bills. Designed as the centrepiece- de-resistance for the 1976 Olympics, the stadium's problems became legendary, best exemplified by the retractrable roof that wouldn't retract.

Regardless, the building is there. Might as well use it. (For more than for the occasional RV show.)

TSN vice-president of television production Mark Milliere has no problem with the place as the sports network for the first time has been handed the ball to carry Canada's grand old game.

"Most exciting is that you're going to have one loud, loud venue with some great atmosphere for Grey Cup Sunday," Milliere said from Montreal between production meetings. "I happened to be here in 2001 as a spectator and the hometown team wasn't in it - and it was the loudest sporting event I've ever been at.

"That bodes well with the Alouettes in it - these guys knowhow to have a party and support their team and have fun," he said, verifying what is known aboutMontrealers.

The place can sti l l be shined up, but, like an old house under renovation, is the wiring a brittled, crackling antique-roadshow for their state-of-the-dayHDneeds?

"We're fine. No issues there. It's going to shoot real well. You can drop your 30 cameras in there and move around comfortably."

The Als hosting the East final at the Owe was a bonus for TSN. It was a nice warmup.

"The eastern final had the Friday Night (Football) complement, which is 10 cameras," Milliere said. "So we're triple the cameras on Grey Cup Sunday.

"We have cable cam, or sky cam if you want to call it that. We'll have a steady camroaming the sidelines getting those shots and any end-zone celebrations. Another hand-held roaming into the stands and getting shots from there.

"Working with the CFL as sole broadcaster we asked them for greater access to the players and coaches, to get behind the scenes and give that to the viewers

"That's really paid off.We're going to have some first-evers during the game. They are going to allow us to go into the locker-rooms to tape the coaches' pre-game speeches. That's never been done before. And we will be able to turn those around (have them on the air) before kick-off." So, one big party for TSN?

"You have more when you're not actually broadcasting it," said Milliere. "It's nose to the grindstone. Our fun, our rewards, come after."


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