Winning No. 1 for Argos' boss

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:55 AM ET

Argonauts’ president Bob Nicholson hasn’t been trying to sell refrigerators to Eskimos.

But convincing fans to buy tickets to watch his football team might just be the next hardest thing.

So far, like his football team, he’s losing.

Argonauts season ticket sales are down about 10% from last season.

“It’s understandable because I think that after two bad seasons people are playing wait and see. We have to win people back,” Nicholson said yesterday at the Argos’ annual Fan Day.

“Football is the entertainment business and we haven’t delivered.”

The team signed autographs after practice and mingled with fans at the University of Toronto’s Erindale campus.

The team has also increased its marketing and advertising campaign after winnng just seven games the past two seasons.

Attendance in 2009 dipped to an average of 26,374 from 29,189 the previous year, and it could drop further if the Argos don’t improve on the field.

“We got the shredder out. But people have heard promises before,” Nicholson said about all the changes the club has made, including a new offensive system, a new head coach and owner, new quarterback and a lineup that could feature up to 15 new faces at various positions.

The Argos begin the season with games on the road in Calgary and Winnipeg — and losing both could be disastrous.

There are also two early games against the Grey Cup champion Alouettes.

“We’ve got a challenging schedule,” said Nicholson.

While there are many new faces, they will need to produce fairly quickly.

“The players and fans have gone through a lot here the last few years and I’d like them to know what it feels like to win again,” said Argos head coach Jim Barker.

Another slow start will only translate into more empty seats. It also wouldn’t help morale on a team that is trying to find a reason to believe in itself.

‘Compete’

“Winning is going to be important because for both the players and the fans’ sake we have to show we’ve improved,” said Nicholson.

“We have to demonstrate that we’re going to compete.”


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