Toronto’s Mayor Thinks NFL and CFL Can Coexist — Say What Now?
The talks about our sister North American country Canada getting an NFL team in Toronto have been going on for a while but now they’re heating up. Toronto’s Mayor Rob Ford has been touting Toronto as the next big NFL destination and claiming that the NFL and CFL can coexist in the same market.
“I like both. I think both leagues are great,” said the mayor, disagreeing that a Toronto NFL team could hurt fan support for the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts. “There are a lot of football fans here. I’m here today to support the CFL.”
The mayor spoke of his excitement for Toronto’s 100th Grey Cup Festival and the financial boom that will result from the game in 2012 and the nine-day festival that will celebrate it.
But the Ford brothers have often made headlines by saying the are chasing an NFL team and trying to host a Super Bowl. The city councillor said earlier this month Toronto may acquire the Saints from New Orleans, which prompted the Saints to issue a press release calling the notion “completely false.”
To begin, I don’t think the Saints are moving. I have no insider information or reason to state this other than that the Saints survived a very economically depressed period after Hurricane Katrina. Despite many New Orleans residents being displaced, attendance was still competitive with the rest of the league. In fact, the Saints reported that their waiting list was 50K names strong back in 2010.
Saints owner Tom Benson is pretty well invested into the city of New Orleans and the Saints remain one of the teams that are less in debted than others. Besides a slight stadium controversy (and really what city doesn’t have or hasn’t had one) the Saints seem on pretty sure footing. With the economy being what it is, it just seems unlikey for the NFL to move a team on solid ground.
That being said, I wouldn’t rule out Toronto getting a team; but I would, however, rule out the NFL and CFL being able to co-exist. The Toronto Sun explicitly said that Mayor Ford HAS to choose between the NFL and CFL and I think they’re right.
They make the case that a Toronto NFL team would actually make the CFL stronger because the sport of football would become more popular north of the border. Both leagues would prosper. And yes, if you believe that, you are buying that the Argos are solid at QB going into the 2011 season.
I often get the feeling that Toronto’s NFL supporters (at least the ones who have a soft spot for the CFL) say this because it makes them feel better. No CFL blood on their hands. Others, it’s for political calculation.
Picture the sight of Tom Brady or a Peyton Manning coming to town, or even a Monday Night Football game in Toronto: the comings and goings of the Double Blue will become a mere speck on the Toronto sports scene–a hyper-competitive market where they have struggled for the past 30 years.
It is easy to predict media coverage would drastically diminish for the Argos. Ticket revenue and corporate sponsorship would shrink. The highway to Double Blue irrelevancy would be paved in red ink. (Yes, way more red ink than they have now.)
If you’re interested in this topic I think this is a good article to read. For a city/country that doesn’t have an NFL team I think they covered the potential issues the NFL would have with the mayor/city (rogue behavior) and the issues Canada might have with the NFL (wasting tax payer dollars that have been invested in the CFL).
But the bottom line is just like Canada wanted “in” on the NBA, they will want in on the NFL and the best professional football talent and probably soon. The question is how much they’re willing to sacrifice to get it and can they invest tax payer dollars into TWO leagues. NFL teams come at high costs to the host cities and aren’t typically the economic boon they purport to be. Not to mention the tightly controlled ownership and advertising issues that come along with the NFL that will surely squeeze the CFL out of contention.
I can guess that the NFL would come up with some crazy rule to keep the CFL from showing games on Sundays and Mondays? That alone would gravely impact the CFL schedule and viewership in the most crucial part of football seasons–the halfway marker and beyond.