Argos co-owner stunned by success

PERRY LEFKO -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:49 AM ET

Y'all come back now.

That's the message Argos owners David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski are saying to Torontonians looking forward to the East Division final at the Rogers Centre on Nov. 20.

The Argos attracted a crowd of 40,085 for Thursday's 34-11 win over the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, which clinched first in the East. It marked the biggest crowd for an Argos home game since Oct. 28, 1990.

"I think we'll beat 40,000 (for the division final)," Cynamon said after the game. "I bet you this city might rise to the occasion with 45,000-50,000. I can't see why not. I'd be disappointed if we didn't because that's what it's supposed to be. It's the next best game to the Grey Cup, so I would expect we would get it."

Cynamon and Sokolowski will buy the game from the league, which owns the rights to playoff games, but could potentially make $500,000 or more in revenues.

Cynamon marvelled at how well the organization has come since he and Sokolowski bought the team after the 2003 season, during which the Argos were without an owner after the sixth game. The league stripped the franchise from owner Sherwood Schwarz for failing to pay bills.

"In hindsight now, (the team) was broken," he said. "I don't think we knew that when we bought it how broken it was. Regardless of what Howard and I have done, (team president) Keith Pelley fixed this thing. Everything you see (at the games) from a beautiful banner to getting 40,000 in here, this guy just comes up with ideas and ideas and fixed the problems in the (front) office, everything from financial records to proper databases to filling -- just some of the basic business principles.

"Now knowing how broken it was, I would never have believed how far we've come financially relative to where it was.

"We really have an opportunity to be successful in this town."

BIG CROWD

Cynamon said he couldn't have believed Thursday's game would draw as well as it did, even though Pelley told him advance ticket sales suggested there would be a big crowd.

"It was thick, it was real, and it's fantastic, and paid for," he said. "It's picture perfect. It's like the CFL gods are saying, 'The Argos have been beaten up enough over their lifetime.' Howard and David and Keith came in here and saved this franchise from going under.

"Somebody up there is watching us, bringing us the fans, victories, a Grey Cup. It's almost too good to be true. We're very fortunate. Maybe (it's all because of head coach) Pinball Clemons.

"It's really something unique. Because there's a buzz, there's some energy now. It's beyond our wildest dreams."


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