I’ve read a lot of criticism lately on the Alouettes’ attendance situation. Yes, there were a little over 21,000 people at Friday’s home opener, leaving about 4,000 empty seats. And yes, a home opener should probably sell out.
That said, I’m a little frustrated that the Als are being constantly criticized for not selling out the new sections.
The Als reported sellouts for what seemed like a million years (7.5 of which I was an Alouettes employee) before expanding the stadium from 20,202 to 25k & change in 2010. For nearly all of those years and the 100-plus sellouts the Larry Smith-led management team reported, people criticized for Molson being the smallest stadium in the league.
Now that the stadium has 5,000 more seats and isn’t filled to capacity, all you hear is how the games aren’t selling out. They’re still getting well over the original 20,202, so as far as I’m concerned the expansion was well worthwhile. I’m also highly confident that the Mark Weightman-led management team is reporting honest figures and not papering the stands in any fashion.
I’m not necessarily saying Smith’s management team papered the stands or lied about numbers. But I am saying that over 21,000 butts in the seats on a Friday night at Percival Molson Stadium makes for an absolutely wonderful fan experience and the Als are nothing but a model franchise.
Weightman and his team have a strong long-term vision for the team that surely includes regular sellouts – I just don’t think anything less than a sellout is a failure. If they start drawing under 20,202 regularly, then there’s a debate to be had. Anything over that mark is a success as far as I’m concerned.