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Elks to close upper bowl of Commonwealth next year, except for 'key games'

Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton. (CTV News Edmonton) Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton. (CTV News Edmonton)
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A few days after being officially eliminated from the playoffs for the second straight year, the Edmonton Elks announced fewer seats will be for sale in 2024.

The CFL club will close the upper bowl of Commonwealth Stadium next season, blocking off about 25,000 of the stadium's 56,400 seats.

"Closing the upper bowl is key to enhancing the game day atmosphere and rebuilding our home field advantage by bringing our fans closer to the action," president and CEO Rick LeLacheur told fans Wednesday.

"We’re confident that the combination of improved play on the field and a better atmosphere will create one of the most enjoyable game day experiences in the league."

LeLacheur said more seats will be open in the upper bowl for "key games" but didn't disclose the criteria for those.

The Elks will still offer about 31,000 seats for sale each game, which is still more than the capacities of CFL stadiums in Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Hamilton.

Edmonton is averaging about 25,000 fans a game this year, according to the league's website, behind only Winnipeg and Saskatchewan.

After peaking at nearly 58,000 fans a game in 1982, average attendance in Edmonton has been steadily falling. It went from nearly 42,000 in 2005 to under 24,000 last year, before an increase of just over 1,200.

At 4-12, the Elks are tied with Ottawa for last in the league. Edmonton's last home game of the season is Saturday at 2 p.m.

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