By Mike Pearson, News staff
Bringing the Grey Cup back to Hamilton remains a priority for the Canadian Football League, its commissioner said.
Mark Cohon was in Stoney Creek on Aug. 14 to promote the Hamilton Football Association's new safe contact certification from Football Canada. The commissioner attended a Hamilton Jr. Ticats training session and participated in the filming of a TV spot for the Football Canada safe contact initiative, along with dozens of youth players aged seven to 14.
The commissioner was also upbeat on the future home of Hamilton's CFL franchise, despite construction delays that have already forced the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to move three home games to the much smaller confines of Ron Joyce Stadium at McMaster University.
"I think at the end of the day, obviously it's tough for the fans, (but) at the end of the day you have to think about we're going from Ivor Wynne to Tim Hortons Field. It's going to be an unbelievable stadium for fans for decades to come. When we're in there it's going to be beautiful; it's going to be great. I hope that day is coming very soon."
While the CFL has already awarded the 2014 and 2015 Grey Cup Games to Vancouver and Winnipeg respectively, he experts both Ottawa and Hamilton to be part of the conversation for the 2016 contest.
"When we think about it, going back into Ottawa, going to Hamilton, you know are one of the things we want to do and one of the things we talked about with the City (of Hamilton) when the region made the commitment to build the stadium," Cohon said.
Despite getting a stadium that will seat just 22,500 fans, Cohon and the league have indicated Tim Hortons Field could be expandable to up to 40,000 seats for a Grey Cup. He noted Winnipeg's Investors Group Field will add about 10,000 seats for next year's Grey Cup.
The commissioner commended the Hamilton Football Association for becoming the first amateur football association of its kind in Canada to be declared safe contact certified by Football Canada. More than 60 of the league's coaches have received safe contact training to help players avoid serious injuries. The HFA's efforts will be showcased in a public service announcement to air this fall on TSN during CFL game broadcasts.
"It's our intention to work with Football Canada and clubs across the country to ensure that coaches are safe contact certified and the protocols around safe contact and to ensure that the kids and the parents know that it's better with safe contact," said Cohon.
Hamilton has not hosted a Grey Cup since the 1996 game at Ivor Wynne. Ottawa last hosted the big game in 2004 when the city had the now-defunct Ottawa Renegades.