Home Sweet Home: A look at host teams in Grey Cups


It’s where we’ve all been staying for the last year amidst the pandemic that has flipped our lives upside down. It’s where we’re comfortable, where we feel safe and where we relax.

For football teams, it’s usually a place where they thrive.

Just look at the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. In 2019, their regular season record at home was 9-0. Plus, the team won the Eastern Final at Tim Hortons Field against the Edmonton Football Team, finishing the year undefeated in their own building.

That same year, all but one CFL team (Ottawa REDBLACKS) had a better record at home than they did on the road.

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The BC Lions won the Grey Cup at home in 2011 (Geoff Howe/CFL.ca)

Playing at home is undoubtedly an advantage.

It’s partly because of the crowd that’s your side when the opposing teams’ offence hits the field. You’ve heard certain stadiums are ‘a tough place to play in.’ That’s true for a place like Mosaic Stadium, where the crowd is one of the loudest in the league.

It also could be other factors, like familiarity with the facilities and intimidation tactics. Whatever the reason, playing at home has major upsides.

For the first time in NFL history, this weekend’s Super Bowl featuring the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers will feature a home field advantage. Tom Brady and his Buccs are the first team in the league’s history to play a Super Bowl at their home stadium.

While that hasn’t happened in the past in the league south of us, it has happened north of the border in the CFL. Quite a few times, actually.

Since 1958, when the CFL as we know it today started its existence, there have been 12 teams to play in the Grey Cup while hosting the championship game (out of 62 Grey Cups).

Team Record of host team in GC since 1958
BC Lions 2-2
Montreal Alouettes 1-2
Toronto Argonauts 1-1
Hamilton Tiger-Cats 1-0
Saskatchewan Roughriders 1-0
Edmonton Football Team 0-1

Of the 12 teams that have hosted the final game of the season, something that has been incredibly rare, six came away victorious. Three of those have happened since 2011 and they were back to back to back.

The trio of winners at home started in 2011, when the BC Lions hosted the big game at BC Place. Just over 54,000 fans piled into the stadium to watch the 99th Grey Cup between the Lions and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. Led by Travis Lulay, the Leos ended their storybook season, which started with the team going 1-6, by hoisting the coveted trophy in a 34-23 victory.

The very next year, in 2012, Toronto played host to the Grey Cup at their former home of the Rogers Centre. As fate would have it, Ricky Ray led his squad all the way to the final game in late November and walked away with his third Grey Cup. It was a 35-22 win for the Boatmen, as they defeated the Calgary Stampeders in the 100th edition of the championship game in their own backyard.

And finally, in 2013, Regina played host to the Grey Cup at the old Mosaic Stadium. In the 101st Grey Cup between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Darian Durant led his Riders to a 45-23 win.

The other three teams that won at home during a Grey Cup were the Ticats in 1972 at Ivor Wynne Stadium, Montreal in 1977 at Olympic Stadium and the Lions in 1994 at BC Place Stadium.

As we look ahead to the 2021 season, where the Grey Cup is set to be hosted by Hamilton, we can only wonder if yet another team will be added to this list.

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