Canadian Football League attendance

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Canadian Football League attendance has averaged no fewer than 20,000 spectators per game for every season since 1963. The CFL consistently draws, on average, the third or fourth largest crowds to its games of any professional sports league in North America, ranking behind the National Football League and Major League Baseball, about on par with Liga MX and ahead of Major League Soccer, the National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and the National Lacrosse League.

To date, a CFL game has drawn in excess of 50,000 spectators 111 times. It happened for the first six times in 1976, when Toronto's Exhibition Stadium was renovated to accommodate the Toronto Blue Jays, and its capacity was enlarged to become the first CFL stadium capable of holding such a large crowd. Later that same season, the Montreal Alouettes moved into Olympic Stadium, following the 1976 Summer Olympics. Large stadiums were constructed soon afterward for the Edmonton Eskimos and BC Lions. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, CFL attendance peaked at about 30,000 fans per game.

During the 1980s and 1990s, CFL attendance declined sharply, reaching its nadir by the mid 1990s due in large part to the league's unsuccessful attempt to expand to the United States. Since start of the 21st century, CFL attendance has stabilized. During the current decade, new stadiums have been constructed for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Ottawa Redblacks and Winnipeg Blue Bombers, all with modern amenities and capacities of between one quarter and one half the capacity of an average NFL stadium. A new stadium is under construction to house the Saskatchewan Roughriders while BMO Field in Toronto, originally built for Toronto FC of Major League Soccer, is being renovated to accommodate the Toronto Argonauts. Existing stadiums, most notably Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton and BC Place in Vancouver, have undergone major upgrades.

During the 2010s, CFL attendance has consistently exceeded 25,000 fans per game. An average of 25,286 fans watched CFL games in 2014. CFL attendance has been depressed during the middle of the current decade by short-term issues, most notably the lack of stadium availability in Toronto and Hamilton. By 2018, attendances in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver were consistently below 20,000 fans, prompting long-term concerns in those markets.[1]

Top single-game attendance marks[edit]

Below is a list of all Canadian Football League games reported to have been attended by 60,000 or more spectators.

Rank Date Result City Stadium Attendance Note
1. Tue 09/06/77 Toronto 20 @ Montreal 14 Montreal Olympic Stadium 69,093
2. Sun 09/26/76 Ottawa 2 @ Montreal 23 Montreal Olympic Stadium 68,505[2]
3. Sun 11/27/77 Montreal 41 vs. Edmonton 6 Montreal Olympic Stadium 68,318[3] Grey Cup
4. Tue 08/23/77 Ottawa 20 @ Montreal 27 Montreal Olympic Stadium 66,544
5. Sun 11/23/08 Calgary 22 vs. Montreal 14 Montreal Olympic Stadium 66,308[4] Grey Cup
6. Sun 11/25/01 Calgary 27 vs. Winnipeg 19 Montreal Olympic Stadium 65,255[5] Grey Cup
7. Tue 08/22/78 B.C. 26 @ Montreal 30 Montreal Olympic Stadium 65,132
8. Sun 11/25/79 Edmonton 17 vs. Montreal 9 Montreal Olympic Stadium 65,113[6] Grey Cup
9. Thu 08/11/77 Winnipeg 10 @ Montreal 27 Montreal Olympic Stadium 63,330
10. Sun 11/28/10 Montreal 21 vs. Saskatchewan 18 Edmonton Commonwealth Stadium 63,317[7] Grey Cup
11. Sun 10/02/77 Toronto 18 @ Montreal 6 Montreal Olympic Stadium 62,832
12. Sun 11/24/02 Montreal 25 vs. Edmonton 16 Edmonton Commonwealth Stadium 62,531 Grey Cup
13. Sat 09/26/09 Saskatchewan 23 @ Edmonton 20 Edmonton Commonwealth Stadium 62,517[8]
14. Fri 09/05/03 Calgary 0 @ Edmonton 38 Edmonton Commonwealth Stadium 62,444[9]
15. Tue 09/05/78 Ottawa 23 @ Montreal 18 Montreal Olympic Stadium 62,197
16. Sat 10/22/77 Ottawa 16 @ Montreal 28 Montreal Olympic Stadium 62,157
17. Sat 11/06/76 Ottawa 17 @ Montreal 26 Montreal Olympic Stadium 61,950
18. Fri 09/06/02 Calgary 11 @ Edmonton 45 Edmonton Commonwealth Stadium 61,481[10]
19. Sun 11/16/97 Toronto 47 vs. Saskatchewan 23 Edmonton Commonwealth Stadium 60,431 Grey Cup
20. Sun 11/18/84 Winnipeg 47 vs. Hamilton 17 Edmonton Commonwealth Stadium 60,081 Grey Cup
21. Sun 11/09/03 Toronto 26 @ Montreal 30 Montreal Olympic Stadium 60,007[11] Eastern Final

[12]

League Records[edit]

Single Game Records[edit]

Type of game Attendance Date City Stadium Result
Pre-season 53,472 Thu 06/23/83 Vancouver B.C. Place Calgary 19 @ B.C. 41
Regular season 69,093 Tue 09/06/77 Montreal Olympic Stadium Toronto 20 @ Montreal 14
Eastern Semi-Final 37,835[13] Fri 11/05/04 Toronto SkyDome Hamilton 6 @ Toronto 24
Western Semi-Final 40,381 Sat 11/15/86 Vancouver B.C. Place Winnipeg 14 @ B.C 21
Eastern Final 60,007 Sun 11/09/03 Montreal Olympic Stadium Toronto 26 @ Montreal 30
Western Final 59,478 Sun 11/17/85 Vancouver B.C. Place Winnipeg 22 @ B.C. 42
Grey Cup 68,318 Sun 11/27/77 Montreal Olympic Stadium Montreal 41 vs. Edmonton 6

Season Records[edit]

Type of Record Attendance Team Year Stadium Games
Team Total—Regular Season 476,201[14] Montreal Alouettes 1977 Olympic Stadium 8
Team Total—Regular Season and Playoffs 531,601 Montreal Alouettes 1977 Olympic Stadium 9
Team Average—Regular Season 59,525 Montreal Alouettes 1977 Olympic Stadium 8
Team Average—Regular Season and Playoffs 59,067 Montreal Alouettes 1977 Olympic Stadium 9
League Total—Regular Season 2,303,365[15] - 2005 - 81
League Total—Regular Season and Playoffs
League Average—Regular Season 31,831 - 1978 - 72
League Average—Regular Season and Playoffs

Team Records[edit]

BC Lions[edit]

Type of Record Attendance Date/Year Stadium Result/Games
Pre-season game 53,472* Thu 06/23/83 B.C. Place Calgary 19 @ B.C. 41
Regular season game 59,478 Fri 10/11/85
Fri 09/19/86
B.C. Place Winnipeg 31 @ B.C. 10
Edmonton 32 @ B.C. 3
Playoff game 59,478 Sun 11/17/85 B.C. Place Winnipeg 22 @ B.C. 42
Grey Cup game (host) 59,621 Sun 11/30/86 B.C. Place Hamilton 39 vs. Edmonton 15
Total Attendance-Regular season 418,738 1986 B.C. Place 9 games (46,526 avg.)
Total Attendance-Regular season and playoffs 459,119 1986 B.C. Place 10 games (45,912 avg.)
Average Attendance-Regular season 46,526 1986 B.C. Place 9 games (418,738 total)
Average Attendance-Regular season and playoffs 47,089 1983 B.C. Place 9 games (423,801 total)

Calgary Stampeders[edit]

Type of Record Attendance Date/Year Stadium Result/Games
Pre-season game 32,649 Tue 07/02/91 McMahon Stadium Edmonton 21 @ Calgary 25
Regular season game 45,010 Sun 10/29/00 McMahon Stadium Montreal 31 @ Calgary 32
Playoff game 35,650 Sun 11/05/06
Sat 11/15/08
Sun 11/21/10
McMahon Stadium Saskatchewan 30 @ Calgary 21
B.C. 18 @ Calgary 22
Saskatchewan 20 @ Calgary 16
Grey Cup game (host) 50,035 Sun 11/28/93 McMahon Stadium Edmonton 33 vs. Winnipeg 23
Total Attendance-Regular season 328,516 2009 McMahon Stadium 9 games (36,502 avg.)
Total Attendance-Regular season and playoffs 359,872 2009 McMahon Stadium 10 games (35,987 avg.)
Average Attendance-Regular season 36,502 2009 McMahon Stadium 9 games (328,516 total)
Average Attendance-Regular season and playoffs 35,987 2009 McMahon Stadium 10 games (359,872 total)

Edmonton Elks[edit]

Type of Record Attendance Date/Year Stadium Result/Games
Pre-season game 49,723 Fri 06/25/82 Commonwealth Stadium Calgary 23 @ Edmonton 18
Regular season game 62,517 Sat 09/26/09 Commonwealth Stadium Saskatchewan 23 @ Edmonton 20
Playoff game 52,709 Sun 11/15/81 Commonwealth Stadium B.C. 16 @ Edmonton 22
Grey Cup game (host) 63,317 Sun 11/28/10 Commonwealth Stadium Montreal 21 vs. Saskatchewan 18
Total Attendance-Regular season 463,188 1982 Commonwealth Stadium 8 games (57,899 avg.)
Total Attendance-Regular season and playoffs 514,299 1982 Commonwealth Stadium 9 games (57,144 avg.)
Average Attendance-Regular season 57,899 1982 Commonwealth Stadium 8 games (463,188 total)
Average Attendance-Regular season and playoffs 57,144 1982 Commonwealth Stadium 9 games (514,299 total)

Hamilton Tiger-Cats[edit]

Type of Record Attendance Date/Year Stadium Result/Games
Pre-season game 27,585 Wed 06/13/12 Ivor Wynne Stadium Toronto 29 @ Hamilton 24
Regular season game 35,394 Sun 11/07/76 Ivor Wynne Stadium Toronto 0 @ Hamilton 18
Playoff game 33,392 Sun 11/14/71 Ivor Wynne Stadium Toronto 23 @ Hamilton 8
Grey Cup game (host) 38,595 Sun 11/24/96 Ivor Wynne Stadium Toronto 43 vs. Edmonton 37
Total Attendance-Regular season 252,018 2005 Ivor Wynne Stadium 9 games (28,002 avg.)
Total Attendance-Regular season and playoffs 255,627 1972 Ivor Wynne Stadium 8 games (31,953 avg.)
Average Attendance-Regular season 32,129 1972 Ivor Wynne Stadium 7 games (224,906 total)
Average Attendance-Regular season and playoffs 31,953 1972 Ivor Wynne Stadium 8 games (255,627 total)

Ottawa Rough Riders / Renegades / Redblacks[edit]

Type of Record Attendance Date/Year Stadium Result/Games
Pre-season game 23,252 Thu 06/08/17 TD Place Stadium Hamilton 29 @ Ottawa 30
Regular season game 35,342 Tue 11/02/75 Lansdowne Park Montreal 6 @ Ottawa 46
Playoff game 32,699 Sun 11/15/75 Lansdowne Park Montreal 20 @ Ottawa 10
Grey Cup game (host) 51,242 Sun 11/21/04 Frank Clair Stadium Toronto 27 vs. BC 19
Total Attendance-Regular season 224,656 1975 Lansdowne Park 8 games (28,082 avg.)
Total Attendance-Regular season and playoffs 257,355 1975 Lansdowne Park 9 games (28,595 avg.)
Average Attendance-Regular season 28,082 1975 Lansdowne Park 8 games (224,656 total)
Average Attendance-Regular season and playoffs 28,595 1975 Lansdowne Park 9 games (257,355 total)


Montreal Alouettes[edit]

Type of Record Attendance Date/Year Stadium Result/Games
Pre-season game 34,191 Tue 07/04/78 Olympic Stadium Toronto 24 @ Montreal 27
Regular season game 69,093* Tue 09/06/77 Olympic Stadium Toronto 20 @ Montreal 14
Playoff game 60,007 Sun 11/09/03 Olympic Stadium Toronto 26 @ Montreal 30
Grey Cup game (host) 68,318 Sun 11/27/77 Olympic Stadium Montreal 41 vs. Edmonton 6
Total Attendance-Regular season 476,201 1977 Olympic Stadium 8 games (59,525 avg.)
Total Attendance-Regular season and playoffs 531,601 1977 Olympic Stadium 9 games (59,067 avg.)
Average Attendance-Regular season 59,525 1977 Olympic Stadium 8 games (476,201 total)
Average Attendance-Regular season and playoffs 59,067 1977 Olympic Stadium 9 games (531,601 total)

Saskatchewan Roughriders[edit]

Type of Record Attendance Date/Year Stadium Result/Games
Pre-season game 33,350 Sat 06/10/17 Mosaic Stadium Winnipeg 25 @ Saskatchewan 25
Regular season game 55,438 Sat 10/14/95 Taylor Field Calgary 20 @ Saskatchewan 25
Playoff game 33,300 Sun 11/17/19 Mosaic Stadium Winnipeg 20 @ Saskatchewan 13
Grey Cup game (host) 52,564 Sun 11/19/95 Taylor Field Baltimore 37 vs Calgary 20
Total Attendance-Regular season 337,527 2013 Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field 9 games (37,503 avg.)
Total Attendance-Regular season and playoffs 368,469 2013 Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field 10 games (36,847 avg.)
Average Attendance-Regular season 37,503 2013 Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field 9 games (337,527 total)
Average Attendance-Regular season and playoffs 36,847 2013 Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field 10 games (368,469 total)

Toronto Argonauts[edit]

Type of Record Attendance Date/Year Stadium Result/Games
Pre-season game 39,804 Wed 07/07/77 Exhibition Stadium Ottawa 6 @ Toronto 28
Regular season game 52,521 Fri 09/10/82 Exhibition Stadium Hamilton 30 @ Toronto 25
Playoff game 54,530 Sun 11/20/83 Exhibition Stadium Hamilton 36 @ Toronto 41
Grey Cup game (host) 54,741 Sun 11/28/82 Exhibition Stadium Edmonton 32 vs. Toronto 16
Total Attendance-Regular season 378,840 1976 Exhibition Stadium 8 games (47,355 avg.)
Total Attendance-Regular season and playoffs 378,840 1976 Exhibition Stadium 8 games (47,355 avg.)
Average Attendance-Regular season 47,355 1976 Exhibition Stadium 8 games (378,840 total)
Average Attendance-Regular season and playoffs 47,355 1976 Exhibition Stadium 8 games (378,840 total)

Winnipeg Blue Bombers[edit]

Type of Record Attendance Date/Year Stadium Result/Games
Pre-season game 33,421 Wed 07/03/91 Winnipeg Stadium Ottawa 32 @ Winnipeg 45
Regular season game 35,959 Sun 09/12/93 Winnipeg Stadium Saskatchewan 23 @ Winnipeg 41
Playoff game 32,946 Sun 11/22/87 Winnipeg Stadium Toronto 19 @ Winnipeg 3
Grey Cup game (host) 51,985 Sun 11/24/91 Winnipeg Stadium Toronto 36 vs. Calgary 21
Total Attendance-Regular season 275,734 2013 Investors Group Field 9 games (30,637 avg.)
Total Attendance-Regular season and playoffs 296,059 2011 Canad Inns Stadium 10 games (29,606 avg.)
Average Attendance-Regular season 30,637 2013 Investors Group Field 9 games (275,734 total)
Average Attendance-Regular season and playoffs 30,637 2013 Investors Group Field 9 games (275,734 total)

CFL attendance vs. other North American professional sports leagues[edit]

The following table compares the Canadian Football League regular season average attendance against the regular-season average attendance for the other professional sports leagues in North America with average attendance of at least 10,000 spectators per game.

League Sport # Teams Season Average
attendance
Average vs.
prior season
Total
Attendance
Ref
National Football League American football 32 2019 66,648 -0.7 17,061,787 [16]
Major League Baseball Baseball 30 2019 28,339 –1.7 68,494,752 [17]
Liga MX Soccer 18 2018–19 22,896 -9.7 3,503,135 [18]
Canadian Football League Canadian football 9 2019 22,917 –3.9 1,856,263 [19]
Major League Soccer Soccer 24 2019 21,310 -0.03 8,694,584 [20]
National Basketball Association Basketball 30 2018-19 17,844 -0.7 21,964,447 [21]
National Hockey League Ice hockey 31 2018-19 17,377 –0.7 22,002,081 [22][circular reference]

References[edit]

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  14. ^ "CFL.ca | Official Site of the Canadian Football League". Greycup.cfl.ca. Archived from the original on 2012-08-21. Retrieved 2013-09-13.
  15. ^ Published November 17, 2005. "CFL Sees Numbers Rise At The Gates - SportsBusiness Daily | SportsBusiness Journal | SportsBusiness Daily Global". SportsBusiness Daily. Retrieved 2013-09-13.
  16. ^ "NFL Football Attendance". Sports Business Daily. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
  17. ^ "From Terrible Teams To Rising Costs: Why MLB Attendance Is Down Over 7% Since 2015". Forbes.com. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
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  20. ^ MLS Attendance
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