On Tuesday night, the Toronto Argonauts flew into Moncton, N.B., and were welcomed at the Greater Moncton International Airport like rock stars.
“It felt like I was one of the Beatles or something,” Argos’ cornerback Byron Parker told the Toronto Sun.
The hearty greeting wasn’t reserved for just the one night though, as the Boatmen were welcomed on Wednesday by loud and cheering high school football teams, live music and dancers.
Toronto is visiting the Maritime city as apart of Touchdown Atlantic, an initiative to bring the CFL to its fans in the East, and will be facing off against the Edmonton Eskimos as the home team on Sunday.
Other than the game itself, Touchdown Atlantic may also serve as a launching point for expansion in the CFL.
“We’ll show that the accessibility is a huge draw for the CFL,” Toronto safety Willie Pile said. “If we show good in the game, [expansion] can be a possibility.
“The goal is to come out and give them [Moncton] a glimpse into what it can be like when you put your heart into it and work hard.”
Judging by the fervor that Touchdown Atlantic is drawing, the possibility of expanding the league to the Atlantic appears to make sense.
The celebrity-like buzz that has surrounded the Argos thus far in Moncton seems comparable to the enormous devotion that the fans of teams in the Prairies, most notable in Regina.
However, according to CFL commissioner Mark Cohon, while Atlantic Canada could be Canadian football’s next landing spot, it just isn’t going to happen immediately.
“Do I think that dream [the CFL coming to Atlantic Canada] is becoming a possibility? I think yes, it’s becoming a possibility,” Cohon told the Canadian Press. “Is it a probability or a reality? The answer is that we’re not there yet.”