Allen ready for challenge

ROB LONGLEY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:28 AM ET

With just 5,000 unsold tickets, the 2007 Grey Cup is already a hit by the most obvious measure.

Damon Allen will find it considerably less so if he has to sit in one of those remaining Rogers Centre seats.

The Argos incumbent starting quarterback was one of several league personalities gathered at a downtown club yesterday for the gala launch to the Grey Cup festival.

The guests heard about booked musical acts, street closures and other attempts to urge Torontonians to embrace the Cup as the national party it is in other cities.

Allen was willing to help his employers beat the drum to that end. But tomorrow, when the Argos QB/rookie camp begins, he will begin the business of winning the starting job from four challengers.

"Every player has the desire to win their job,," Allen said after organizers announced plans for the city's massive Grey Cup Party. "I welcome the opportunity. I worked hard this off-season. I'm ready to win the job and be the starter."

In the past, Allen has said a big reason he plans to return at age 43 is to attempt to play for the Cup in Toronto.

By all accounts, it may be a party worth embracing, unlike the previous time the Canadian sporting institution touched down in the GTA in 1992.

New league commissioner Mark Cohon outlined some of the party plans leading up to the Nov. 25 kickoff, including the closure of Front St. and Bremner Blvd. for separate Cup festivals beginning Nov. 22.

Grey Cup general manager Brad Watters announced some of the entertainment booked, including all-Canadian acts such as the Trailer Park Boys, Great Big Sea, Blue Rodeo, Spirit of the West and the Bare Naked Ladies.

The half-time entertainment has yet to be finalized as well as the performers at an Air Canada Centre concert the night before the game.

Argos president, Keith Pelley, all but promised that in old-time Grey Cup tradition, a horse will end up in the lobby of a downtown hotel at some point during the week.

Pelley also outlined what promises to be an emotional league awards show which will be a tribute to the late comedian and former Argos owner, John Candy.

The awards, which will be held at Roy Thompson Hall, will be hosted by Candy's former Second City comedy troupe pal, Dan Aykroyd.

Ticket sales have exceeded expectations to this point and with only lower bowl seats remaining, a sellout is all but guaranteed.


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