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By Ted Michaels, CFL Editor - Archive - Email
A new team in Toronto
Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - They admit they borrowed the idea from the New Jersey Devils of the NHL.

The Toronto Argonauts are looking for fans to become a member of the Argos Admirals, an elite volunteer digital team, for the 2012 season.

The group will use social media platforms to engage with other Argonauts fans, become part of the conversations happening over different social media platforms and even start the conversation, grow the team's online presence, talk Argonauts football and become an even more valuable member of the team.

Eric Holmes, Argos manager of media relations, will oversee the team's new social media department.

"We're calling it an elite social media team," he told Inside the CFL. "We're working on getting it off the ground during training camp. We want our fans to be our voice on-line. We're asking our fans to be a part of this elite team, via social media. They can be part of the team, and help spread the message."

As many CFL fans know, team chat lines can sometimes be filled with venomous, faceless and vicious comments, from the ill-informed. This new initiative, the Argos hope, will ensure that when the complaining starts, the complainers will get an explanation.

"We have a number of applicants and we're still sorting through them all. We're looking for a dozen really strong applicants," Holmes said. "We've had fans from Regina and Hamilton apply. We're asking for a commitment of a minimum two to four hours per week. They'll be manning a Twitter and Facebook account and driving some of our video content. Specifically, we want them interacting with other CFL and Argo fans. If you're getting the information on the Argos from someone that has some insider information and is armed with that knowledge, then you're going to trust them more."

Members of the Admirals will work in a digital media center out of the club's business operations offices, called Room 31, after the number worn by beloved Argo Michael "Pinball" Clemons.

The room will be located at the team's downtown headquarters and be outfitted with several computers, work stations and televisions once it's fully operational.

Admirals also will be stationed at Rogers Centre during home games, steering the fan and club social media efforts.

"In terms of access, we're going to provide them whatever they need to get the message out," Holmes said. "They're going to be pretty hands-on in terms of planning what they'll be doing from a day-to-day perspective. We're looking at holding as many as three meetings a week, we're going to strategize what we want to cover, and how we're going to do it, how we want to talk about the team on-line. If, for example, they need to get more from practice, then they'll be invited to attend."

In essence, the Admirals are representing the team, and as such, they'll be privy to some behind-the scenes information.

Holmes notes the Argos will initially oversee what is being tweeted and blogged to ensure the Admirals are representing the team properly. And, in this age of instant information, sometimes that information can be erroneous.

"Social media is where our fans are," Holmes said. "The first place our fans go for information is on-line. Our research showed the biggest things our fans want out of being on-line, is they want information first. We want to make sure the information is accurate."

Holmes said the hype around this year's Grey Cup will be "enormous" and their goal is to have the biggest social media presence ever for the championship.

"This past season's Super Bowl in Indianapolis was arguably the most connected NFL game ever and that's what we hope to achieve at the Grey Cup."

He added, initially, the Devils' social media group, called the Devils Army Generals, started in February 2011 with 25 fans. Today, the Devils have more than 75,000 Twitter followers, as compared to 10,000 for the Argos. When it comes to Facebook, 280,000 people are friends of the Devils, while the Argos have 8,800.

The Devils making it to the Stanley Cup Finals is also a huge factor for the on-line success. New Jersey fans have been saturating social media with pictures and chat as they have followed their club through the playoffs.

With the Grey Cup to be held in Toronto, the Argos clearly hope to mirror the Devils success on the field as well as off.

ARGOS TARGET YOUTH

The Argos are, without a doubt the CFL leaders when it comes to community involvement with youth.

That's why June 19 is a huge day for the franchise.

The Argos, with endorsement from the Ontario Minister of Education, will be moving the kickoff time for their home pre-season game on that day versus the Montreal Alouettes to noon ET as part of an initiative with the various school boards in the Toronto area to bring students to the game and celebrate the end of a school year.? he "field trips," organized through the schools and school boards, will bring primary and middle school students to Rogers Centre free of charge during school hours.

The Argonauts run three in-school programs through their community relations department: the award-winning Huddle Up Bullying Prevention Program, which is wrapping up its 11th successful year; Argo-cise Recess, which focuses on the health and physical fitness of kids; and Level the Playing Field, which has returned football to 10 Toronto District School Board schools. Aspects from all three programs will be a part of the game and elements appealing to the youth will be incorporated into pre-game, halftime and post-game activities.

Students will be granted pre-game access to the stadium 90 minutes before kickoff so that they can watch warm-up and start the celebration. In addition, the game will be packed with special student and community-focused presentations. Immediately following the game, students will be invited to take their "field trip" onto the field at Rogers Centre, where they will meet their Argonauts heroes as well as the team's cheerleaders during an Argonauts post- game tradition known as "See You on the Field."

Each Argos season ticket holder will be offered five ticket vouchers for the pre-season game to bring along up to five friends to enjoy the game. Also, season ticket holders will be able to bring students to the game free of charge.

As of this week, over 30,000 students are expected to attend the game.

Ted Michaels is the host of the Fifth Quarter on AM900 CHML.

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