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PostPosted: Mon May 26, 2008 1:06 pm 
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IMO, to survive, the CFL will have to expand, and I don't mean just adding a team in Ottawa and Halifax.

They will have to at minimum expand to 14 teams to have long term viability. There are a lot of reasons, IMO. These may be the 3 main ones.

Lack of legitimacy.
Lack of content.
Lack of reach.

Right now an 8 member league is from a perception standpoint, laughable...and I like the CFL. It is crazy to have a league where you play 18 games to eliminate 2 teams. This will be a constant hurdle to drawing new fans in Canada and outside Canada until it is addressed. It screams minor league. A 14 team league could have the top 8 making the playoffs. That eliminates enough to make the regular season exciting and not pointless and makes for a better playoff.

From a business perspective the CFL struggles because it cannot land TV deals. This is partially because Canada has 1/10 the population of the US, but frankly there is a much overlooked reason that is probably more important. With 8 team, you are playing 4 games a week. Assume people won't want to see a good team blow out a bad one. It is very possible you MIGHT have 2 watchable games a week. How much TV revenue will you generate with crap matchups of a product that is alien to most? The league needs more content each week. They need to be able to say to the sports networks that they can deliver competitive games almost every Thursday night if they want more TV revenue.

Finally, I understand that part of the holdup on adding a team in say Windsor or Ottawa is coming from owners (and former owners) in the league who are pushing to block expansion in those areas. Windsor has reportedly been claimed by the Glieberman family. The Montreal owner is against expansion in Quebec City, even though to most eyes, that is by far the most viable expansion city in Canada.

I think the fact that the CFL is such a collection of embattled struggling teams, this kind of thinking --- protect what you have thinking --- hampers expansion. Owners want to keep control and not rock the boat.

I think it is perfectly fine to have a team expand in Moncton behind a bad owner and fail and try it a couple more times until the community gets with the program stadiumwise. If you structure your league properly, having a franchise fail is not crippling --- it can in fact be the impetus that gets Canadian communities behind upgrading stadiums for long term success.

Presently the league has no presence in NS or NB. That hurts viewership in Canada--- your most sympathec audience. You have football taking off in Quebec, but are allowing an owner to block capitalizing on it. You have to sit him down and show him that his financials would improve with rivals nearby. Having 2 home games a year vs. Ottawa and Quebec will probably be some of his best selling tickets if he LOUDLY allows himself to be overruled. Create rivalries between comunities.

London and Windsor fans really like football. Thier local governments as well as Halifax and Moncton's seem very willing to try out CFL football and put some money behind it, but frankly show they have little more than a cursory knowledge of what is involved stadiumwise. 25K capacity fixed seating with abundant restroom facilities, adequate concession facitlities, lighting, parking, and a sufficient pressbox aren't just the CFL's idea of a good stadium. They are a requirement for a team's survival with the CFL business model.

I say publically make the offer to every one of those communities to allow their cities to buy into the CFL if they can build stadiums that seat 25K. IMO the CFL is struggling to expand in part because they cannot find owners. That fixes that.

There is a precidence. Winnipeg is community owned and has been for 70 years. Winnipeg's books could give Canadian cities a clear look at what they can expect costwise.

This does a number of good things. With the city footing the bill, they will feel the spur to increase seating to the minimum level more than if a private individual owns the team. They will "get it" more looking at the winnipeg books. They are far less likely to chase expensive free agents and run up huge operating costs. Finally, it works better in smaller communities as everyone feels a part of ownership. Look at Green Bay and Winnipeg's track records.

19% of Canadians follow the CFL. If there were teams in Ottawa, Quebec, Moncton, Halifax, London, and Windsor, it hits me as a no brainer that your percentage of Canadians who follow the CFL would spike up dramatically--- my guess ~25-30%. That will help TV ratings a lot.




IMO, there is a threshold of viability in a number of areas that the CFL is floating below and there is no good reason for it. The assets, opportunities, and reputation are there for the CFL to firmly cement their place as the #2 football league in North America rather than slowly losing ground to the arena league and all the upstart semi-pro and pro leagues coming out, but they need to take action now.

Finally...And I know this is a hugely unpopular idea for Canadian fans after how the league was treated by owners, fans, and management in several of the US expansion cities, but a tiny bit of US expansion IS a good idea.

The CFL business model is based on 25k stadiums. Those are a ton easier to find or finance in the US.

The US media markets would dramatically expand the market for the CFL.

All you really have to do it keep the US representation small and in areas with large Canadian presences.

Put a team in NY and a team in Chicago. Lots of Canadians in those cities. I have to think there are enough CFL fans in Chicago and NY to average the 18K CFL teams need to break even.

It is not a big deal if ESPN won't bite. Short term, even local TV deals in those communities would do the job. That right there expands CFL TV by around 80%.

Both cities are underrepresented by college and pro football teams. Chicago is a huge city to only have the Bears. You could put the Chicago team in Evansville. Northwestern has great facitilies and is wealthy, but has always sucked at football.

NYC doesn't even have a pro football team because there aren't 50K+ stadiums kicking around anymore. That is a great place for the CFL business model.

You could probably work a deal to play at West Point in NY. Having a lot of bored military around always helps attendance. Barring that, you could talk to Hofstra or SUNY's Stony Brook University. There are a lot of people in places of power at Stony Brook who eye what UB has done to seperate themselves from the other SUNY universities with a lot of jealousy. Landing a CFL tenant might be just enough to get a 25K FCS stadium built. That would be a step forward for a lot of people out there who dream of FBS status in 20-30 years.



Last edited by finiteman on Thu Jun 19, 2008 11:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2008 6:44 am 
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CFL West:

Vancouver
Calgary
Edmonton
Saskatchewan

CFL Midwest:
Winnipeg
Chicago (expansion)
Toronto
Windsor (expansion)

CFL Central:
Ottawa (expansion)
Hamilton
London, Ont. (expansion)
New York (expansion)


CFL East:
Montreal
Quebec City (expansion)
New Brunswick (expansion)
Halifax (expansion)

Each team plays 18 games, and the playoffs would be expanded from six to eight teams.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, 2008 11:54 pm 
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I vote you CFL commissioner.

It seems quite doable to get the CFL in much healthier standing. I hope we live long enough to see them get it together.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2008 5:10 pm 
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Actually, if drilling in the oil sands in Canada (which is already a net exporter of petroleum) proves feasible, a booming Canada could happen sooner rather than later.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 29, 2008 7:49 pm 
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wbyeager wrote:
Actually, if drilling in the oil sands in Canada (which is already a net exporter of petroleum) proves feasible, a booming Canada could happen sooner rather than later.


Probably won't happen in our lifetime. Mass production would of Canada's oil (=tar) sands would represent a reservoir FAR bigger than anything in the Middle East. However, the hydrocarbons are tightly bound to the sands, meaning that it can't be pumped out of the ground. Processing the material is severely limited by the amount of water required (even if everything in Canada is used). The result would be a gallon of gas at US pumps costing 50-100 dollars. (Yes, gallon, not barrel.) Of course, given the vast amount of resources in the tar sands, lots of people are looking into it.

I think finiteman has good suggestions on US markets - start in Illinois and New York. I would add one in the Pacific northwest (Portland?) and New England (Providence?, Hartford?). CFL's expansion problems have been their choice of locations SO far from Canada: Miami, Shreveport, Las Vegas, Birmingham, San Antonio, Memphis.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 30, 2008 3:30 am 
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OK, putting teams in America is a no-no (as we learned over a decade ago). I know there are more Canadian markets we can turn to.

So, with this in mind, I have drawn up this alignment:

Atlantic Division:
Cape Brenton
Fredericton
Halifax
Moncton
Prince Edward Island
Saint John
St. John's

Central Division:
Hamilton
London
Montreal
Ottawa
Quebec
Toronto
Windsor

Western Division:
BC
Calgary
Edmonton
Regina (formerly Saskatchewan)
Saskatoon
Victoria
Winnipeg

This is how the CFL can look by 2050 if they play their cards right.


Last edited by pf9 on Fri Jul 11, 2008 11:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 05, 2008 9:34 pm 
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pf9 wrote:
OK, putting teams in America is a no-no (as we learned over a decade ago).....


With respect as I greatly enjoy your posts, I think this statement is based off a gross miscalculation on why the CFL's previous US expansion failed.


fossil wrote:
...on US markets - start in Illinois and New York. I would add one in the Pacific northwest (Portland?) and New England (Providence?, Hartford?). CFL's expansion problems have been their choice of locations SO far from Canada: Miami, Shreveport, Las Vegas, Birmingham, San Antonio, Memphis.


Could not agree more with your insight into expansion philosophy. I don't think the problem was so much expanding into foreign territory, it was expanding into hostile territory. Stay in areas with lots of canadians and there won't be nearly the hurdle to be taken seriously by the 25K+ fans you need each game to survive..


Last edited by finiteman on Sun Jul 13, 2008 5:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2008 8:00 pm 
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pf9 wrote:
... I know there are more Canadian markets we can turn to.

So, with this in mind, I have drawn up this alignment:

Atlantic Division:
Cape Brenton
Fredericton
Halifax
Moncton
Prince Edward Island
Saint John
St. John's

Central Division:
Hamilton
London
Montreal
Ottawa
Quebec
Toronto
Windsor

Western Division:
BC
Calgary
Edmonton
Regina (formerly Saskatchewan)
Saskatoon
Victoria
Winnipeg

This is how the CFL can look by 2050 if they play their cards right.


Ignoring the playoff problem of 3 divisions, I like how your mind is working, but I have some questions for you.

1) What time frame are you thinking with this? I would expect you would want to see expansion 2 teams every 10-15 years or so? What is the sequence?

Saskatchewan has about 1M people in the province. New Brunswick about 700-800K, Nova Scotia about 900K, PEI under 150K, and NL under 500K.

Now maybe in 30 years, all of these markets will double in size...say Saskatchewan would have about 2M people in the province. New Brunswick about 1.5M, Nova Scotia about 2M, PEI 300K, and NL 900K.

At that point --- if the business model the CFL operates under is still similar and the CFL is still around --- I think you could maybe have:

Atlantic Division:
St. John's
Cape Brenton
Halifax
Moncton
Fredericton or Saint John
Quebec


Throwing Quebec into the Atlantic Division would be workable, but again, this is 30 years from now. Can the league last that long with no other expansion than what else you mentioned? Additionally, I really question PEI and a team in Fredricton AND Saint John. Even 50 years from now.


I think using Hamilton --- under 700K with another 100-200K within 35 minutes or so --- as a minimum required for a CFL team is a good barometer--- in terms of marketing sales, not ticket sales. Now if you added a lot of teams nationwide, I think you would see a much larger portion of a team's merchandising dollars coming from outside their native markets. But for today, I think that is a hurdle.

Today, I think PEI would be crucial in allowing a Moncton site to work. I may be a minority opinion but I think the CFL would be wise to start with moncton to serve NB and PEI and then add Halifax to serve NS in 5 years or so. A lot of CFL fans do not share that opinion wanting 1 team for the atlantic region, noting the huge travel distances from the even the closest current CFL team, Montreal, to the Atlantic provinces. So how do you get to having an eastern division?

I can understand the crux of your arguement is to address that eventually by creating a division out there, but I'd argue that it could make more sense to add couple teams in markets like SE Maine, New Hampshire, Boston, Worchester, Providence, New York, and even possibly Syracuse & Rochester if you wanted to create a more travel friendly conference in the near future. All of those cities/regions are "Canada friendly" and have the markets to support a CFL team's marketing requirements.

I agree that St. John's, NL will be a good site for a CFL team soon, but I think with the current CFL model that is so dependent on marketing dollars it would be at least 15 years.

It seems to me like maybe in 35 years or so you could add a team in Saskatoon and not kill the viabilty of the much slower growing Regina Roughriders, but that again is a puzzle with only one seeming correct answer. Toon Town is about 230K to Regina's 200K, but they think Saskatoon will hit 300K in 10 years or so. The people in charge of the riders are regina businessmen, so they won't just move as long as they are the big wigs are in control, but I could see it becoming an issue one day. If Regina is say 245K and Saskatoon is 425K...how do you keep the team in Regina? Additionally, if the team moves, does Regina get a replacement team from the short-sighted CFL ownership and management power brokers? Probably not.

Overall, I think your plan is a good concept if you go hard core canada, but assumes the CFL is stronger today than I think it is. I think it overlooks too many better cities in Ontario and Quebec.

Let me throw out the more obvious ones--- adding more teams in the big 3 markets.

Ignoring Hamilton, there are probably almost 7M people living in cities within 30 Miles of Toronto. That entire region can only suport 1 pro football team in a league that averages only 25-40K attendence? That is just nuts, IMO, but the league allows the big city teams to hold the big markets ransom, effectively diminishing the league in the major markets by making it a fringe sport in the big cities.

I can understand that history suggests the Island of Montreal can only support one team, but are you telling me that the Alouettes would wither and die if there was a team serving Laval and the North Shore as well? The Alouettes will draw their 25K they need to fill their stadium from the island of Montreal, so we are really talking about the marketing dollars and TV dollars. I cannot fathom how Montreal would collapse if they had to split marketing in a market of 3.5M when the Riders, Tiger-cats, Eskimos and others make due with markets of about 900K to 1.2M. I think the real question of a 2nd team in Greater montreal is would the north shore communities fill a 25K stadium too? I think they could with nearby rivals Montreal and Ottawa.

I think you could even split Vancouver --- let the Lions keep Vancouver and the Northern cities and give Surrey and the southern cities to an expansion team.

Remember NY has two teams sharing the same darned stadium!!! LA had a pair of teams for a while. The CFL's can certainly do this with it's much smaller needs.

The CFL really works well in communities like Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and frankly in Saskawachen. People appreciate the CFL there. Are they more football crazy there than other communities in Cananda? I don't think so. I think they are simply servicing appropriate sized markets. I think Ontario, Quebec, and the Atlantic Provinces are criminally underserved, but the problem becomes the CFL's financial model, IMO. Canadian TV revenue is finite. While putting teams in underserved cities would certainly help national ratings, there is a real question if you can make up the piece of the TV revenue pie that you give to a Halifax team with a bump in NS viewership. Or do you NEED A couple of big US TV markets to make Canadian expansion viable?


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PostPosted: Sun Jul 13, 2008 8:12 pm 
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I just put together a map of CFL teams. Go to google maps and query "Canadian Football League Stadium Map".


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 10:38 am 
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As for the playoff structure, I would have 12 teams: 3 division winners and 9 runners-up

All teams are seeded 1-12 based on regular season record. This means a team can win a division - and still not get a first round bye.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 17, 2008 12:07 pm 
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The sad reality is that the Buffalo Bills could relocate to Toronto through a sale in the coming years. It's likely that the Argonauts of the CFL will fold and the new NFL team will adopt that teams name and identity. This makes it crucial for the CFL to expand.

I don't think the CFL needs too many teams, but enough in the region to offset the potential loss of the Toronto market:

CFL West:
Vancouver
Calgary
Edmonton
Saskatchewan
Winnipeg

CFL East:
Ottawa (expansion)
Hamilton
London, Ont. (expansion)
Montreal
Quebec City (expansion)


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