For the second year in a row, the CFL's Touchdown Atlantic game was played in front of a packed house in Moncton.
The near-sellout crowd of 20,153 passionate, Maritime fans were entertained by a spectacular CFL football game between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Calgary Stampeders. The Ticats hammered the Stamps 55-36 in the highest-scoring contest this season - what an amazing way to cap off a tremendous CFL week in New Brunswick.
Organizers did a fantastic job of making Touchdown Atlantic a great event. How could you not be a fan of the CFL after watching this game?
Even if Moncton was not granted a CFL franchise, I would argue that Touchdown Atlantic needs to become a main fixture on the CFL schedule, no different than the Labour Day weekend and the Thanksgiving Day games.
For the CFL to be truly Canadian, it's wrong not to have Atlantic Canada represented. Our league deserves to be represented coast to coast in order to fully embrace the diversity and beauty of our country.
I appreciate the methodical process by the league to invest in this game to expand the CFL audience base and generate football interest in hopes to support a 10th CFL franchise in Moncton. However, the fact the CFL has an opportunity to party in the Maritimes for a full week is something that I would never turn down. The Maritimes and "party" are simply synonymous.
Extra revenue generator
This game makes sense for several reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it generates a lot of money. Last year's game reportedly brought in $6.5 million to the city of Moncton.
Each year, teams should take turns investing into Touchdown Atlantic. This game is perfectly positioned between the Labour Day and Thanksgiving Day games. Like Labour Day, Touchdown Atlantic would be a financial injection that every team would welcome, especially since revenue support from hosting a playoff game or the Grey Cup only comes around once every few years.
The players would welcome the experience, too, since this week of events breaks up the monotony that tends to creep in during the second-third of the long CFL season.
Ticats receiver Matt Carter, who played his university football at Acadia University in Wolfville, N.S., told the Hamilton Spectator he was excited for the week in Moncton.
"It's a chance to do something different, and for us right now, doing something different might be just what we need to get us back on track."
When a team is struggling through the season, an extended road trip can be the perfect remedy.
During my time with the Stampeders, we would often stay East for back-to-back games against Hamilton and Toronto. Although it was an extended time away from family, it often was the time in the season that our group of players really came together as a team. When you're on the road for a long period of time, you're forced to spend time together - eating meals and simply hanging out together.
Dress rehearsal for Grey Cup week
The Touchdown Atlantic week of events can also be a great measuring stick of how your football team can handle distractions. It would be a great dress rehearsal for the Grey Cup week, which each team is working so hard to be part of. Both players and coaches would benefit by seeing how they handle themselves and whether they can keep focused on the task at hand.
A lot has been said about how challenging it is to handle the time zone difference for teams travelling east. It's not uncommon for teams from the west to start the week practicing earlier in the day in preparation for an afternoon eastern game that week. Teams will also typically schedule their travel day one day earlier in order to help the players adjust their sleep patterns.
Calgary chose to arrive Wednesday and spend three full days in Moncton prior to Sunday's game. Hamilton, with only one time zone difference, arrived Thursday. Neither team looked sluggish in the game.
Although there are special preparations that need to be taken care of in order for a team to feel adequately equipped for the week leading into the game, the excitement and success of the week is well worth it.
Touchdown Atlantic was a huge success. I personally hope that Moncton is eventually granted a CFL franchise, but even if they don't, I would love to see this game permanently added to the CFL schedule.
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