... I know there are more Canadian markets we can turn to.
So, with this in mind, I have drawn up this alignment:
Prince Edward Island
Regina (formerly Saskatchewan)
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:
Fredericton or Saint John
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?