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Tiger tails are wagging

Rumours about the Hamilton Tiger-Cats using Alumni Stadium next year bounced around for so long that it was easy to doubt this week’s announcement that there’s an agreement in principle for it to happen. But happen it will, University of Guelph officials said Tuesday, and that’s fantastic news for the city and its cherished university.
“It’s a great opportunity to showcase the university and the city and to bring lots of excitement and business to the community,” said Brenda Whiteside, who oversees the athletics department as the university’s associate vice-president (student affairs). “The spinoff benefits for business and tourism will be enormous,” said Lloyd Longfield, president of the Guelph Chamber of Commerce.
These two statements sum up a lot of the anticipation attached to the news that the Ti-Cats will play home games in Guelph while a new facility to replace Ivor Wynne Stadium is built in Hamilton next year.
There’s a certain mystique in the CFL attached to playing in a smallish facility like the U of G’s Alumni Stadium. Look at the Montreal Alouettes, a team that has flourished even more since moving out of cavernous Olympic Stadium to make its home in a stadium on the McGill University campus. The place is always sold out. This sort of homey atmosphere is what Guelphites should be able to enjoy when they buy a seat for a Ti-Cats game next year.
Also, keep in mind the just-completed improvements to Alumni Stadium, including new artificial turf, an eight-lane International Athletic Federation-certified track, new lighting and a state-of-the-art video scoreboard.
Yes, there will be issues to deal with, such as the potential for traffic congestion at the end of the games. That’s why it’s great that the U of G now has a fine bus hub in front of the University Centre. Here’s hoping that a lot of Hamiltonians and Guelphites use buses to get to the games. Of course, if Hamiltonians and other out-of-town football fans want to make a longer visit of it by staying at a local hotel, trying Guelph restaurants and driving home the next day, no one’s going to complain.
Let’s face it, Guelph will never have its own team in any of the main sports realms. We’re too close to Hamilton and to Toronto. But for one glorious year, 2013, the city can shine in the spotlight of the CFL as the Ti-Cats try to make it to the 101st Grey Cup game. It will really be something!

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