Finding What They Were Looking For

SPORTS LEGEND: U2 effectively saved Canadian Football in Montreal.

Montreal has a long history associating with the Canadian Football League, but it was not always a successful one.

Montreal has had some form of a football team all the way back to the 19th Century. The team in Montreal was officially named the Alouettes in 1946 (which I believe translates to Skylarks in English), and was one of the founding members of the Canadian Football League in 1958.

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The team played in the CFL for the next twenty-five years or so, and had some success, especially when owned by Sam Berger.

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However, after Berger’s retirement, the team ultimately folded in 1981.

In 1982, a new Montreal team called the Montreal Concordes started up.

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They only lasted a few seasons.

For the rest of the 1980s and most of the 1990s, Montreal was without a CFL team. It appeared as though Montreal just was not a huge fan of foobtall.

However, in 1996, due to the NFL Baltimore Ravens coming into existence, the CFL’s Baltimore Colts moved to Montreal, and became the NEW Montreal Alouettes (I discussed the CFL’s U.S. expansion in an earlier Sports Legend here).

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The 1996 and 1997 seasons were not particularly popular ones for the Alouettes, and in particular, their home stadium, Olympic Stadium, was just not working out at all. The gigantic stadium had too many seats, the whole endeavor was kind of depressing, seeing so many empty seats. It looked like the team might have to fold, yet AGAIN.

Then a funny thing happened.

The Alouettes were scheduled to play a home playoff game in November 1997. They had not expected to be in the playoffs, so they had booked Olympic Stadium for a U2 concert.

Here is a bootleg CD cover of that concert, just for the hell of it….

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Anyhow, with the Stadium booked up, the Alouettes were forced to move to Molson Stadium, the much-smaller stadium on McGill University’s campus that the Alouettes had played on during the 1950s and early 60s.

Well, the 20,000 seat stadium sold out (it WAS a playoff game) and all of a sudden, instead of being a little fish in a big pond, the Alouettes were now a big fish in a little pond, and that began to get them a lot of media coverage and increased fan interest.

The next season they decided to play in Molson Stadium, and every game sold out! And every game HAS sold out ever since!

In honor of the role U2 played in their renewed success, before every home game on Sunday, the team plays U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday.”

So while it is a BIT of a stretch to really credit U2, the Alouettes do, so that’s good enough for me to say…

STATUS: True

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