I’ll update this post with pictures or videos if / when I can find them.
In the spirit of fun, and acknowledging how lucky I am to be a fan of this great franchise … I’ll leave it to you to decide whether these should be on a Top or Bottom 10 List
10 Toronto Argonauts Memorable Pregame or Halftime Shows, At Least Ones I Personally Can Remember
10 Divot replacement at BMO Field.
This is the default halftime show at BMO if nothing else is going on. We are lucky to have the only natural grass surface in the league, but it needs attention at halftime, and sometimes this is the only show we get.
9. Muhammad Ali.
Garth Drabinsky was hired to jazz up the halftime shows one year – having Tony Hawk do a skateboard show was pretty good even if we couldn’t see what he was doing inside the halfpipe, but I remember the biggest one.
The halftime show was essentially Ali coming out onto the field, getting mobbed by both the Argos and Ottawa Renegades, and everybody cheering, and for years this was memorialized with a banner at Skydome, alongside the Grey Cup banners. A banner to commemorate a particular halftime show. I never quite understood why that banner needed to be there.
8. Superdogs! Or regular dogs.
I actually love the dogs catching frisbees. This must be a cheap show to do but it’s worth every penny. Who doesn’t love dogs?
7. Cornell University Big Red Band.
Occasionally the team would import a US marching band. Cornell’s band played at halftime of the 1997 Eastern final, and then joined Argonotes for the 4th quarter and a performance outside after the game. I was lucky enough to conduct this massive Cornell + Argonotes band, and my one regret is that we only had about six extra music books for the 150 people in their band.
Actual quote from the Cornell band:
Also, thanks for everything last week. We had an amazing time playing in the Skydome and playing with the Argonotes during and after the game. People in the Cornell Band have said it was the best road trip they’ve been on (which means that it was better than parading down 5th avenue in New York City!).
6. Electric Drills.
Five contestants competed to see who could drive a 4″ Robertson screw into a 4×4 the fastest. If you are thinking “Could the fans even see what was going on?” then you are asking the right question.
5. Supermodels Kick Field Goals.
This was the personal idea of Argos owner Sherwood Schwarz. I was very excited to get a call from the team – “Mr. Schwarz wants the band on the field at halftime.” I was imagining all kinds of fabulous scenarios, but it turned out he wanted the band to play a little “Ta-da!” after each of the supermodels failed to successfully kick a field goal.
4. Inappropriate Metaphors
In 1995 the team set up a fun fair sort of thing outside Skydome, including a giant inflatable slide for the kids, which was a nice idea except the inflatable was a model of the Titanic hitting an iceberg and sinking, which was perhaps not the best message the Boatmen could offer during those dark years.
3. Anthems. Well, one guy in particular
You know, all things considered, I kind of admire the guy for doing what he wants, for self-producing films, for assembling a top-notch blues band, but in 2007, he sang “O Canada” to a chorus of boos, and wound up actually issuing a press release to apologize.
2. Ashley Takes Off.
I wish there was still video of this on Youtube but it’s gone dark. I’m still looking. You gotta see this.
Contestant Ashley was invited onto the field, blindfolded, and all she had to do to win a free trip from Noli Tours was to run 20 feet towards a banner. The crowd was supposed to yell to guide her in the right direction – but somehow she got turned around, and started running, still blindfolded, at full speed for about 80 yards in the wrong direction (as Faye the on-field host shouted “Ashley, STOP!” over the PA) and ultimately she crashed into one of the sideline barriers. Fortunately nobody was hurt and I hope they gave her the trip anyway.
1. Kick for a Million.
The best halftime show ever.
Contestant Brian Diesbourg attempts to kick a field goal from 20, 30, 40 and 50 yards for escalating prizes. He missed the first three and we all thought, wow, this is too bad, he’s not even going to win the TV set for a 20 yard kick.
And then this happened –
He won $1,000,000 – well, actually, $25,000/year for 40 years, and even though that was a little controversial. it was still an amazing show.
Bonus: Argos “players” join Argos Cheer
This was epic too, especially if you ever wondered what would happen if the dance team didn’t get off the field in time.
See also this awesome 2015 Argos Cheer Thriller routine that trapped one of the “players”