Ontario government pledges $3M in support for Grey Cup games in Hamilton

Ontario’s government is forking over $1.5 million to support Hamilton and the CFL in hosting the Grey Cup this month and will do so again in 2023.

Lisa MacLeod, minister of heritage, sport, tourism and culture industries, was at Tim Hortons Field on Wednesday to announce $3 million in total funding for both finals.

“I think today’s announcement is a lot about optimism,” she said. “It’s about the future of Ontario and the social and economic recovery that we are longing for.”

The government said the money will support CFL media events such as the Grey Cup Arrival, CFL Awards and other community events.

It will also create jobs, boost local tourism and help with hosting the big game, according to MacLeod.

“I’ll often get people saying ‘Well why are you giving away my tax dollars?,” said the minister. “We’re not. We’re investing.”

The Grey Cup wasn’t awarded last year after the season was cancelled amid the COVID-19 pandemic, marking the first time since 1919 it wasn’t awarded.

Flamborough-Glanbrook MP Donna Skelly said it’s been 25 years since Hamilton played host to the CFL final.

But that’s about to change. This year’s championship will be held in Hamilton on Dec. 12.

“This city is ready to roll out the welcome mat for the thousands of visitors who will arrive here over the next few days,” said Skelly, promising “a Grey Cup party in the Hammer like no other.”

The biggest game in Canadian football will then return to the city in 2023.

“With its support for the 108th and 110th Grey Cups, Ontario is backing one of Canada’s greatest traditions and largest sporting events,” read a statement from CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie in a government media release.

“Studies have pegged the economic impact of all the activity from the Grey Cup game and surrounding events at between $80 million and $100 million. Ontario is recognizing that Grey Cup is more than great fun – it’s good business.”

MacLeod said after news was made public that Hamilton would be hosting twice in the next few years she heard from both the Ottawa Redblacks and Toronto Argonauts who were happy the Grey Cup was being held in Ontario.

The minister described that as “incredible sportsmanship” which points to a “Team Ontario” approach.

“We are right now not competitors, we might be on the field, but right now all of our major sports organizations in this province have stepped up for the past 20 months to make sure each of them have an equal playing field and an equal footing to not only survive this pandemic, but to thrive.”

1,000 more tickets added for the big game

Ticats CEO Scott Mitchell said the team anticipates a sold-out game next week, adding it’s released another 1,000 tickets due to demand.

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger also cheered the government support for the Grey Cup games.

But he was less enthusiastic about the Ticat’s longtime rivals in Toronto, who the team is set to play in the CFL division final this Sunday.

If the Ticats win, they’ll play for the Grey Cup in front of a hometown crowd.

“Argos suck. They always will,” the mayor quipped, adding he’s trying to set up a friendly wager on the game’s outcome with Toronto Mayor John Tory.

“Hopefully they’ll not play as well as they can this coming week and we’ll have the perfect scenario for Hamilton.”

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