By Chanelle Seguin
With an NHL lockout still looming, the spirit of Canadian football is alive more now than ever in Toronto sports bars.
“We’ve seen a jump (in guests) where we’ve never seen with the CFL,” said Lauren Dauphinee, general manager of the Boston Pizza flagship location at Front Street and John Street.
To take advantage of the 100th Grey Cup championship on Sunday Dauphinee’s location is introducing new promotions to bring in crowds.
“We are the official restaurant of the Canadian Football League Players Association, so we are having the signings of the CFL players all weekend,” said Dauphinee.
“We are also working with Pepsi Co. and Frito Lays to be the official tailgate party for them on Sunday. And we have a bunch of different liquor specials happening as well,” she said.
While some bars may have suffered from the NHL lockout, since the CFL festivities began Nov. 15, bars have noticed an increase in guests.
Trevor Hardy, Director of Finances and Business for the CFL, said many Canadians underestimate the pride our country has for Canadian football.
“A lot of people don’t know that the Canadian Football League is actually the second most popular sports property on Canadian television,” said Hardy.
“Our ratings are consistently in the range of 800,000 to one-million viewers per game, and the only audience that is larger than that consistently would be Hockey Night in Canada on CBC,” he said.
The Calgary Stampeders and Toronto’s Argonauts will face-off on Sunday at 6 p.m. With the Argos being in the final, many bar managers are excited for the expected business this weekend will bring.
John MacKay, general manager of Jack Astor’s located on Front Street, said Friday that he is already seeing enthusiasm from CFL fans.
“I mean I look around right now and it’s ten after eleven on a Friday and I’ve got about 50 people in here all in CFL jerseys,” said MacKay. “This weekend will probably we the biggest weekend we’ve ever had.”