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Inside the CFL: Invitation to the Nation

Ted Michaels, CFL Editor

Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - It's not often you get to celebrate a centennial.

The CFL has made sure that next year's 100th Grey Cup celebrations in Toronto, on Sunday, November 25, 2012 at Rogers Centre, will be memorable. On Monday, plans were unveiled for the 2012 Grey Cup at a launch event at the Scotiabank Theatre in downtown Toronto.

CFL commissioner Mark Cohon, the chairman and CEO of the 100th Grey Cup Festival, Chris Rudge, and Toronto Argos owner David Braley were among the attendees.

Normally, Grey Cup festivities start on the Wednesday of Grey Cup week, with the coaches' news conference, a ceremonial kick-off at noon, then, various team party rooms kick into high gear on Thursday.

Next season, fans will really have to pace themselves.

The Festival will begin on Friday, November 16 with a gala launch of the new Football Film Festival, which will showcase a series of films all related to the sport of football, hosted in the Entertainment District.

The Grey Cup trophy will be delivered to the city by none other than St. Nick himself as the Festival plans to partner with another great Canadian icon, the annual Santa Claus Parade, on Sunday, November 18.

Throughout the festival, Yonge-Dundas Square will be home to an interactive Family Zone while the Metro Toronto Convention Centre will be Festival Central with traditional Grey Cup team parties, the Scotiabank CFL Experience, concerts and Molson Canadian beer gardens.

Rudge is the former COO of the Canadian Olympic Committee, and he hopes to mirror the success of the Vancouver Olympics at the Grey Cup.

"We learned in Vancouver, when people in this country get together and start celebrating the things that make us special, the things that we share among ourselves from coast-to-coast, special things happen," Rudge said.

"I think the greatest legacy from Vancouver was the concept of 'own the podium.' It was an audacious expression of our ability to be better and to say we can be better and not be ashamed of it."

Rudge added he hopes the federal government will deliver on funding for the event.

The Steven Harper-led Progressive Conservative government committed $5 million for the event in its pre-election budget which didn't see the light of day, because Canadians went to the polls on May 2. Next Monday, the re-elected Harper government delivers its first budget since the election.

The last time the Grey Cup was held in Toronto was in 2007. At that time, the economic impact was an estimated 80 million dollars.

Notes:

Commissioner Mark Cohon said the Grey Cup itself might look a little different after next year. While the cup itself would never be touched, the base has to be redesigned because new names can't be added. The CFL is working with the Canadian Football Hall of Fame on a new design... You have to wonder what he was really feeling.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was at the event, saying all the right things: inviting Torontonians to the event, and encouraging them to take part.

Yet, this is the same mayor whose brother Doug Ford, a Toronto city councillor, opened up an international can of worms, when in a television interview a few weeks ago, said Toronto would get an NFL franchise.

"They have to take care of the problem in Los Angeles first. Two teams are kind of in play here: Jacksonville's No. 1; New Orleans is the other. Once they take care of Los Angeles, we're going to fly over to New York, set up a meeting with (NFL commissioner Roger) Goodell and give him our pitch."

Later Ford apologized and said the move of the Saints was just a rumor.

At the announcement, Doug Ford was at it again. He said he hopes the NFL was in Toronto before the end of their current term in 2014, and his brother said a new NFL team could play doubleheaders with the Argos.

Ted Michaels is the host of the Fifth Quarter, on AM 900 CHML.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Ted Michaels at ted@900chml.com.

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