The feeling of disappointment among Hamilton Tiger-Cats fans was palpable last week when it was announced that the CFL would not be playing an abbreviated 2020 season but the CFL has launched a new campaigned with the goal of providing hope for the future.
On Monday (August 24), the CFL announced a program that will allow fans to have their names inscribed on a permanent new base to the Grey Cup, in an effort to raise money for league’s nine teams and its players.
The new CFL initiative invites fans, for a fee, to have their names inscribed forever on a permanent new base – a 48-inch high tribute to CFL fans crafted from Canadian maple and aluminum – upon which the Grey Cup trophy will be placed at all its public appearances.
“The Grey Cup Fan Base is our way of recognizing that our fans are, in so many ways, the foundation upon which this great league and the legend of the Grey Cup stand,” CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a statement.
“When COVID-19 forced us to cancel the 2020 season, we said we are absolutely committed to making 2021 the greatest comeback in the history of the CFL.
The Tiger-Cats have thrown their support behind this initiative by releasing a video encouraging Ticat fans to add their name to the new Grey Cup base.
Footage of Ivor Wynne Stadium and classic Tiger-Cats moments in history, along with ample scenes of Ticats fans in their glory, attempts to tap into the unique pride and unwavering support of Hamilton’s fans.
It doesn't matter who you are, where you're from or what you do. We all have our own unique and special connection to this football team that unites us!
— Hamilton Tiger-Cats (@Ticats) August 24, 2020
“What can we do to help our Tiger-Cats?” the video asks. “Well, the time has come.”
Starting Monday (August 24), season seat holders have first access to have their name added to the base for the price of $349. After Sunday (August 30), other fans will be allowed to have their name (or that of someone they choose to honour) added to the new base for $399.
“Hamilton Tiger-Cat football has been around for 150 years. It’s our mission, with your help, to ensure we’re prosperous for another 150,” the video says.
COVID-19 has ravaged professional sports’ revenues, but some professional leagues were able to find the resources to provide sports fans with at least a shortened season of their favourite sport.
The Canadian Football League, however, was unsuccessful in its bid to secure financing from the federal government after presenting Ottawa with a $30-million, interest-free loan request Aug. 3 to stage an abbreviated 2020 season.
The proposal was rejected last week and now teams and fans are left wondering how they will be able to move forward.
It will be the first time in 101 years that the Grey Cup will not be rewarding to a CFL team.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats have won 15 Grey Cups since its inception, the last one in 1999. Hamilton came close last season, however, but ultimately lost to the Winnipeg Bluebombers in the playoffs.
Last week, Tiger-Cats owner Bob Young issued an impassioned plea to fans insisting that the organization will do what it can to keep fans engaged and the organization intact ahead of a 2021 season.
“Hamilton Tiger-Cat Football has endured more than 150 years and as Caretakers, it is our mission to ensure it prospers for another 150,” Young wrote.
“So the focus is now the future, and what will be a crucial year for the CFL, 2021, and the incredible opportunity of reuniting our great fans across the country and around the world by celebrating the 2021 Grey Cup in Hamilton.”
To learn more about the Grey Cup Fan Base, check it out on the CFL’s website.
— with a file from The Canadian Press