Bringing Vanier Cup back to Grey Cup week ‘a very real possibility,’ CFL commissioner says

The Vanier Cup will become part of Grey Cup again if the CFL commissioner gets his way.

Incorporating the Canadian university football championship into Grey Cup week is high on Randy Ambrosie’s to-do list.

“The opportunity to bring Grey Cup and Vanier Cup together is a very real possibility,” Ambrosie told The Canadian Press.

“There are some details to be worked out, but it is something we’re committed to working towards.

“I don’t think it’s out of line to say we’d like to see it happen as early as next year in Saskatchewan. I always try to be as ambitious as I possibly can so 2020 looks perfectly good to me.”

The 2019 Vanier Cup featuring the Calgary Dinos and Montreal Carabins is Saturday in Quebec City.

The CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Winnipeg Blue Bombers are Grey Cup combatants the following day in Calgary.

U Sports chief executive officer Graham Brown also wants the university football championship included in Grey Cup week.

“The CFL has done an amazing job of creating that five-day festival football experience and lots going on,” he said.

“At the end of the day, you need to have fans in the stands and the partnership with the CFL and aligning Grey Cup and Vanier Cup pretty much assures that. That is really important to us right now”

The Vanier Cup was played in the Grey Cup host city two days before the CFL’s championship game in 2012 and 2007 in Toronto, and 2011 in Vancouver.

The Laval Rouge Et Or and McMaster Marauders met in both games with each winning a title.

Defensive lineman Ben D’Aguilar, a CFL alum of the Calgary Stampeders and Tiger-Cats, played in both Vanier Cups for McMaster.

“It’s almost like an opening act for a top rock star,” D’Aguilar recalled. “For us, as players, I feel like it amplified the experience.

“A lot of us were trying to go to the CFL, so it’s cool to kind of set the stage for them and really see what it’s all about first hand.”

 

The 2012 Vanier Cup in Toronto’s Rogers Centre set an attendance record of 37,000.

“I remember coming out of the locker room and going out onto the field and feeling ‘man, this is big time,’” D’Aguilar said.

“McMaster, I think we had a 5,000-seat capacity stadium and we’d only ever sell 3,000 so to have thirty-some thousand people show up to the game, it was pretty cool. It felt like that’s the stage we deserve to have.”

Television rights and scheduling are hurdles to be cleared, however.

CFL rightsholder TSN also had Vanier Cup rights in 2011 and 2012, so meshing the two properties worked.

But the Vanier rights were transferred to Sportsnet for several years until this year.

CBC is carrying Saturday’s 55th Vanier Cup. TSN is broadcasting Sunday’s Grey Cup.

Whether TSN would insist on having Vanier Cup rights, or is willing to allow a CBC property into one of its biggest weeks, is unclear.

“We don’t comment on rights negotiations,” Bell Media Sports spokesman Rob Duffy said in an email.

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