Grey Cup organizers won't release attendance numbers, but revenue expected to be high

Grey Cup Festival Co-Chair Craig Reynolds reflects on Grey Cup weekend in the foyer of the International Trade Centre in Regina on Monday. (Matt Howard/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Grey Cup Festival Co-Chair Craig Reynolds reflects on Grey Cup weekend in the foyer of the International Trade Centre in Regina on Monday. (Matt Howard/Radio-Canada - image credit)

The buzz is beginning to die down in Regina as out-of-town Grey Cup attendees head home. But despite the game being over, fans were in great spirits Monday morning.

"I'm still standing, so it was a great time and I'm very happy to be still standing," said Paul Valentine, as he and his brother John, decked out in cowboy hats, prepared to head home to Calgary.

"The parties were fantastic. The game was unbelievable. I was cheering for the Argonauts, so that was good for me. But it was a lot of fun, met a lot of good people, a lot of great music, a lot of great dancing, a lot of beer, a lot of nachos. It was a great weekend."

Craig Reynolds, co-chair of the Grey Cup Festival, echoed Valentine's enthusiasm.

The Toronto Argonauts narrowly beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 24-23 at Mosaic Stadium in Sunday night's championship. It was the type of drama-filled game Grey Cup organizers say they were hoping for.

"That was sort of the cherry on top. You know, you always want the Grey Cup game to be to be outstanding. And it was. It was an instant classic," Reynolds said.

Noemie Rondeau/Radio-Canada
Noemie Rondeau/Radio-Canada

The Grey Cup took more than three years of planning and 1,200 volunteers, says Reynolds. But while energy levels were high and the game was sold out, many seats at Mosaic were left empty.

"We saw thousands of people on the concourse ... we had tremendous turn out. To be quite honest with you, when you have a cold weather game like that with some people maybe not as invested in the score ... they don't spend as much time in their seats," said Reynolds.

Attendance uncertain

Thousands of tickets previously hit the resale market as many Roughriders supporters were disappointed their beloved team didn't make the championship.

Reynolds wouldn't provide any attendance numbers, saying they're not reliable. He says volunteers were scanning people, but many didn't get scanned. He also couldn't provide the number of season ticket holders who didn't show up to claim their seats.

"There's hundreds of reasons why somebody would not come to the game, whether it's cold or they just weren't interested in the two teams participating and they changed their plans," said Reynolds.

Heywood Yu/The Canadian Press
Heywood Yu/The Canadian Press

"Or they're out-of-town fans who just, you know, bought tickets expecting a certain team to be in and when they didn't, they cancelled their plans, tried to sell the tickets and perhaps weren't successful at that."

As for revenue, Reynolds says it will take a number of months to do the final tabulation on how much the festival made. However, he says they did "outstanding" due to the game being sold out and vendors running out of alcohol and food, which he says was a good sign.

Meanwhile, many hotels across Regina are saying goodbye to swarms of CFL members and fans.

"It was really great time. We've been sold out for a number of weeks. The CFL of course has a very large need for rooms for all of the different components that take place and we were glad to take part in that," said Laura Armitage, general manager of DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Regina.

Back at Mosaic, all that's left now is to finish the clean up, and prepare for the next CFL season.

"There's emotions because they're sort of sad it's over. We've been talking about it so long. We've been looking forward to it for so long. But you're also just so overwhelmed that it went so well and people enjoyed themselves and it was exactly what we had hoped for," said Reynolds.