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This fall, the 50th edition of the Vanier Cup is coming to city of Montreal and is set to be played at Percival-Molson Stadium on the McGill campus.
This is big news in the CIS circles, however, could this occasion be a success in a cosmopolitan city that has a lukewarm passion for CIS football.
Already CIS is a bit behind the eight-ball in announcing their signature game set to be played in less than eight months time. A lot of work needs to be done.
In order for the Vanier Cup to be successful, Montreal mayor Denis Coderre, the Montreal Alouettes, and CIS committee will need to go full out in promoting this event. Billboards, strategic signage within Quebec university campuses, and constant television/radio promotions have be to visible in a community that is hockey mad.
That means having key CIS public relations people involved that know the Montreal area such as McGill's own Earl Zuckerman, and Montreal Carabins Benoit Mongeon. These two are the best at what they do, and would be key additions in raising the profile of this game. Moreover, McGill University as a whole will do a fantastic job in making sure their student body, and alumni know about this crown jewel of an event.
This year's playoff rotation will have the RSEQ taking on Canada West, and OUA battling AUS. It is imperative the right match-up occurs for this event to be successful.
Now, on paper a Calgary-Western battle would look appealing, but could it fly in Montreal. From a local standpoint, if defending champions Laval, Montreal (who literally play on the other side of the hill), or host site McGill were to make it to the big game it would generate an increase in ticket sales.
It is hard to imagine smaller communities from outside the province of Quebec traveling in droves to Montreal. Are hotels planning to block off section of rooms for traveling parties coming to this game?
Aesthetically, it would be an eye sore if only a few thousand show up particularly if a RSEQ team is not involved. As one football representative who has a strong pulse on the community told me over the weekend, the organizing committee needs to get as many minor football programs to attend. Instill the idea of the next generation of kids playing in this game in the near future.
At the same time, with the Vanier Cup essentially going head to head with Grey Cup weekend in Vancouver. The CIS could be staring at an abyss of national media coverage considering all eyes will be on Canada's biggest signature game on the other side of the country. Furthermore, if the Alouettes were to make it to the big game, it could result in the top local media personalities covering the game in Vancouver.
At the end of the November, Montreal weather can be unpredictable where a snowstorm could happen, or simply it is bitter cold. Organizers need to hope it is a nice, comfortable day for the fans to enjoy the game.
Finally, if the Vanier Cup goes head to head with a Montreal Canadiens home game it could mean trouble. Historically, the Canadiens will play a bulk of home games at the end of November before their predominant road schedule in December. If the Canadiens happen to play the Toronto Maple Leafs, or another big name NHL team, it could pose problems from the attention being directed towards the hockey team than the game itself.
There are a lot of moving variables in this project. It is a big leap of faith for CIS to give the 50th edition of this game to a city that has never been a part of the rotation.
Now the hard work begins for the committee in making this a successful event.
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Photo credit: Edmonton Journal