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Old October 6th, 2014, 04:43 AM   #4121
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Why is there so much talk about the NFL? As the recent Bills sale just proved, Toronto doesn't even have an ownership group that can afford to purchase a team, so all this talk of whether Toronto deserves a team or not is entirely moot. For better or for worse, the Argonauts will be the highest level of football in the city for the foreseeable future.
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Old October 6th, 2014, 05:29 AM   #4122
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Why is there so much talk about the NFL? As the recent Bills sale just proved, Toronto doesn't even have an ownership group that can afford to purchase a team, so all this talk of whether Toronto deserves a team or not is entirely moot. For better or for worse, the Argonauts will be the highest level of football in the city for the foreseeable future.
Talking about why Toronto doesn't support the Argos and talking about buying the Bills are two different things.
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Old October 6th, 2014, 05:46 AM   #4123
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Toronto isn't a soccer town just because soccer it's popular among kids. Off course is becoming the primarily choice of high schools, soccer is dirty cheap to play compared to hockey and football, and athletic preparation is far more harder for football player than soccer, where basically everybody can play it. That doesn't mean it will be more popular than hockey, basketball and baseball in the foreseeable future.
I'm not basing this on how popular soccer is amongst kids. Cultural relevance is a good gauge of where something is heading. Hockey is flat lining, while soccer and basketball will take their place along side it in the not too distant future. Baseball is in gradual decline while football (all variations) is in 5th and falling lower each passing year.

I know you and I both follow football, but we get a warped sense of how big this sport is in Toronto because of our social circles. Amongst the general population, football is largely off the radar. I've lived in cities where football matters and they don't feel like Toronto. It survives only due to Toronto's sheer size. Sort of like how hockey limped on in Phoenix.
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Old October 6th, 2014, 08:13 AM   #4124
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I'm not basing this on how popular soccer is amongst kids. Cultural relevance is a good gauge of where something is heading. Hockey is flat lining, while soccer and basketball will take their place along side it in the not too distant future. Baseball is in gradual decline while football (all variations) is in 5th and falling lower each passing year.

I know you and I both follow football, but we get a warped sense of how big this sport is in Toronto because of our social circles. Amongst the general population, football is largely off the radar. I've lived in cities where football matters and they don't feel like Toronto. It survives only due to Toronto's sheer size. Sort of like how hockey limped on in Phoenix.
Canada's growth as a nation in the foreseeable future is almost entirely based on immigration.

Our federal government, regardless of which party or political slant is in power, is in a perpetual process of competing to attract the brightest and best from abroad.

Very few, if any, who arrive on these latitudes to build a new life will have the slightest knowledge or awareness of what the word 'football' means unless it pertains to what English soccer-star-turned-TV-commentator Gary Lineker once cheekily described as "22 men chasing a white ball on a green rectangle and Germany wins 1-0."

Those who do choose to take an interest in the gridiron version of football will quickly find the NFL as the league to follow. The same way that England's Premier League, Spain's La Liga, Germany's Bundesliga, Italy's Serie A or UEFA's Champions League dominate the interest of so many young people spanning so many varied nations around the globe today. It's quite simply the by-product of the convergence of internet broadcasting, improvements in the delivery of specialized TV, social media, peer pressure and fashion in sportswear.

The interest in these leagues absolutely dwarfs all other competing interests. The CFL, at least in southern Ontario, is fighting a battle for hearts and minds it can't win. It simply isn't important enough anymore to captivate young minds the way it did half a century ago. In Toronto, it is not talked about casually amongst sports fans the way the Leafs or Raptors or soccer in general is. Baseball is doing quite nicely of late and the Blue Jays were very astute in introducing Mississauga native Dalton Pompey late on in the season and he certainly had tongues wagging locally with his bright play, with both glove and bat, as the season wound down. This is a team that will have no trouble selling hope for next season.

If only the Argos could claim to be so lucky. A team with less than 4,000 total season tickets sold less than two seasons after winning the Grey Cup.

As sad as the future looks for the Argos, the CFL won't be the only victim of these changing demographics. Hockey, once considered a bulletproof, blue-chip commodity in this area, is definitely in peril. As Isaidso points out, participation in the game across the country is taking some alarming turns. Back around 1996-97, hockey and soccer finally reached equal numbers in terms of registered youth players across the country. About 530,000.

Since then, hockey has struggled to maintain that number, let alone rise above the 600,000 mark. What's alarming within that number is that male registrations are down close to 50,000. Only a matching rise in female registrations has kept things from turning sour. But the male game is what drives the marketing and commercial aspects of hockey that are so vital to the game. Symptomatic of a decline in hockey interest in the Toronto area is the sparse support given to any hockey entity not wearing a Maple Leafs logo, though even the Marlies, the Leafs AHL farm team, struggle to draw 3,000. The OHL's Brampton Battalion juniors recently moved to North Bay and Mississauga Steelheads are playing in front of little more than family and friends these days in their marvellous 5,100-seat arena. Less than 1,000 were on hand today to watch two future NHL superstars - Sean Day and Jakob Chychrun - go head to head. It was amazing to watch them.

On the other hand, youth registrations in soccer are pushing past the 1 million mark, triple that if you were to count adult beer league players. In ever increasing numbers, generations have grown up playing and understanding soccer first hand. They've married and had kids who are now building on that process in a way that has never happened with football. A tipping point has been reached. Look at how TSN, the home of the CFL, have raced - awkwardly - to expand their soccer coverage, heartily boosting their coverage of both MLS and Premier League games. This, just a few years ago, was a network that scarcely acknowledged soccer existed.

This is illustrative of the challenge that the CFL faces, not just in Toronto, going forward. Profit margins are thin. Even with clubs that make money, like Saskatchewan or Winnipeg or Edmonton, year-in, year-out, the profit margins are not that big, with less than $5 million a year being the norm, break even not uncommon. When you factor in the need to subsidize most of the eastern conference, it leaves little in reserve for a bad run of years. When MLS moved into the three biggest markets in Canada, it not only competed for the discretionary spending of sports fans and corporate sponsors, it began to battle for air time and column space with broadcasters and news publishers.

When you begin to chip into the already thin profit margins of the CFL, it begins to truly test the league's staying power. It may not be an issue - yet - in western Canada, but don't think for one second that Robert Wettenhall and his Alouette marketing staff were blasé about seeing the Saputo family erect a terrific soccer stadium to house the Impact next to the Big O. And TFC are doing no favours to the Argos. Chip away a little bit of ticket or suite sales, change a sponsor's mind about where to drop ad money for a season or three and erode their media presence and it soon adds up to a huge worry for the CFL in crucial markets.

All of which bears heavily on hearts and minds in local governments about spending on stadium renovations. And in this day and age, there's little room for sentiment or history. People just want to know how you're going to pay for whatever it is you want to do. All the Argos have done for so many years in the past five decades is lose money. They're in tough.
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Old October 7th, 2014, 04:47 AM   #4125
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Toronto doesn't support the Argonauts because Toronto is very much a world class, major league city. If they could get an NFL club to play there, I have no doubt they would support it. They want to play in the league with teams from New York, Boston, Dallas, Washington, Seattle, etc - not small cities / provinces like Saskatchewan, Winnipeg and Hamilton. The people of Toronto want to be in one of the most important, largest, powerful sports leagues in the world (NFL) and don't really care about the CFL which they know, despite its importance in Canada, isn't a real big deal. Its not that difficult to understand.
First off, besides the US, Canada and occasionally London, the rest of the world could care less about the NFL. It is not one of the most "important and powerful" sports leagues in the world. The NBA may fit that description, but not the NFL. The world is interested in the EPL, not the NFL. As for the sports fans of Toronto only wanting to play the really cool cities in the US, it must suck having to watch the Leafs play the Jets, the Sens, the Flames and the Oilers. Thank God we do have two semi cool cities in Vancouver and Montreal. It is strange, but Tokyo is a world class, major league city and they don't seem to mind playing teams in cities such as Fukuoka, Sapporo or Nagoya. In fact every major league, world class city (London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Madrid.....) play teams located in smaller cities in their domestic sports leagues. Do Arsenal fans bitch and moan and not show up to games just because the Gunners are playing teams from Hull City or Swansea? No, Toronto is the only city in the world that thinks it is too big and too cool to play in a domestic league with other cities in its own country. This is very odd and very strange and yes it is very difficult to understand.
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Old October 7th, 2014, 05:06 AM   #4126
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I didn't say anything about people in other parts of the world caring about the nfl. It is one of the most powerful and important leagues in the world though, based on economic value of the teams. The teams in the nfl average #1 or #2 along with the top teams in the european futball league for the value of the franchises. Also, i wasn't talking about "coolness" of cities, just size. I can't say exactly why the fans of Toronto don't support their CFL team very well, but obviously they don't.
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Old October 7th, 2014, 06:08 AM   #4127
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I didn't say anything about people in other parts of the world caring about the nfl. It is one of the most powerful and important leagues in the world though, based on economic value of the teams. The teams in the nfl average #1 or #2 along with the top teams in the european futball league for the value of the franchises. Also, i wasn't talking about "coolness" of cities, just size. I can't say exactly why the fans of Toronto don't support their CFL team very well, but obviously they don't.
It may be one of the richest, there is no doubt about that, but outside of North America it is neither important nor powerful. American style football's appeal is almost entirely North American based. The World League of American Football was a complete disaster (except where there were a lot of ex-pats or American servicemen). So if Toronto ever did get an NFL franchise, the rest of the world would hardly notice. Now if Toronto scored an EPL franchise, that would make world news (because of course that can't happen). All around the world, major cities and their powerful teams play matches against little dink teams in their domestic leagues. In the EPL, Man U. draws 75,000 per match and they have to play against teams like Queens Park that only draw 17,000. Fortunately they tend to dominate on the field as well. Maybe Toronto's problem is that they are used to dominating Canada at almost everything, but when it comes to the CFL they don't dominate their smaller competitors either on the field or at the attendance gate. Toronto sucks at not being #1. It is awful being the big fish in the small pond that keeps getting its ass kicked by all the other tiny fish.
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Old October 7th, 2014, 07:18 AM   #4128
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As sad as the future looks for the Argos, the CFL won't be the only victim of these changing demographics. Hockey, once considered a bulletproof, blue-chip commodity in this area, is definitely in peril. As Isaidso points out, participation in the game across the country is taking some alarming turns. Back around 1996-97, hockey and soccer finally reached equal numbers in terms of registered youth players across the country. About 530,000.

Since then, hockey has struggled to maintain that number, let alone rise above the 600,000 mark. What's alarming within that number is that male registrations are down close to 50,000. Only a matching rise in female registrations has kept things from turning sour. But the male game is what drives the marketing and commercial aspects of hockey that are so vital to the game. Symptomatic of a decline in hockey interest in the Toronto area is the sparse support given to any hockey entity not wearing a Maple Leafs logo, though even the Marlies, the Leafs AHL farm team, struggle to draw 3,000. The OHL's Brampton Battalion juniors recently moved to North Bay and Mississauga Steelheads are playing in front of little more than family and friends these days in their marvellous 5,100-seat arena. Less than 1,000 were on hand today to watch two future NHL superstars - Sean Day and Jakob Chychrun - go head to head. It was amazing to watch them.

On the other hand, youth registrations in soccer are pushing past the 1 million mark, triple that if you were to count adult beer league players. In ever increasing numbers, generations have grown up playing and understanding soccer first hand. They've married and had kids who are now building on that process in a way that has never happened with football. A tipping point has been reached. Look at how TSN, the home of the CFL, have raced - awkwardly - to expand their soccer coverage, heartily boosting their coverage of both MLS and Premier League games. This, just a few years ago, was a network that scarcely acknowledged soccer existed.
Again, youth participation in soccer doesn't reflect its popularity. According to you, basketball should be the most popular sport in the US, which it is only if we take in account kids participation, but when you compare the popularity of college football + NFL and the popularity of college basketball + NBA, you get a different picture of what's really big there.



I don't know where you got your data, but they aren't accurate at all. Hockey Canada registration increased of 17% from 2001-2002 season to 2012-2013. 624,148 kids under 18 are registered with Hockey Canada. 1,136,000 is the number of Canadian men 15 years and older who play hockey. 1.5% is the annual growth for overall hockey participation. All of this when the approximate total equipment costs for one kid is ~$800. I don't buy your pessimism.
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Old October 7th, 2014, 08:01 AM   #4129
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Flashman: I agreed with about 90% of what you wrote in that long post including the prediction that hockey will be the next shoe to drop. Where we disagree is in the extent to which the CFL will fall.

I'm an immigrant from London UK and gravitated to the CFL despite the presence of the NFL. I realize that I'm just one person, but I think people will be attracted to this league for the same reason I was. It's a good product, entertaining, affordable, and it's ours. In a world of myriad sports options it's really our only national sports league at the pro level. When's the last time a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup?

The CFL is the only league where I can talk to someone from Hamilton or Montreal or Saskatchewan and they're dialed in. The CFL acts as a glue that brings the country together. The Premiership does the same thing for the Brits. That's important in a country as vast and regionalized as Canada. These things don't matter to everyone, but they do matter to some of us.

Many people feel alienated by leagues like the NHL which caters to corporations and the wealthy. How many families can afford to go to Leafs games? Regular people can relate to leagues like the CFL and it's a refreshing alternative. There will always be people that love football because it's a wonderful sport and there will always be people that prefer our brand of football over 4 down football. And it's not just Canadians that fall into that category.

We still get Baltimore Stallions fans showing up at the Grey Cup.
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Old October 7th, 2014, 08:12 AM   #4130
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Zach: Do you have hockey participation numbers for Toronto? My perception is that hockey overall is maintaining its position, but that there are lots of changes below the surface. In some markets its still growing, in some its flat lining, and in others its in decline. I suspect Toronto falls into the last category. Nationally hockey got a bump after the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, but the trend line isn't up.

The idea that hockey could one day not be #1 in Toronto is laughable to some, but things have a way of creeping up on people when we're not paying attention. 30 years ago no one in Canada watched the NFL. It was CFL all the way. And university football was once a big deal in this country. If you can believe it, the University of Toronto Varsity Blues football team used to post average attendance of 25,000+; now look at them.
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Old October 8th, 2014, 07:12 AM   #4131
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The following is an excerpted paragraph from a Toronto Star article in January, 2012:

Enrolment in Hockey Canada teams is currently 572,000 players, down more than 200,000 from its peak. And the prospects are grim. In the next decade, some say there could be 200,000 fewer kids playing the game. Yet Hockey Canada remains apathetic to the injury problem.

My personal insight into the game of hockey is deep, long-standing and the by-product of many years earning the best part of a very good living by being rinkside and dealing with a variety of media and commercial concerns and first-hand experiences with the game's brightest stars. And their agents.

I wouldn't trust a Hockey Canada-generated statistic as far as I could throw Gump Worsley.
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Old October 8th, 2014, 09:49 AM   #4132
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Place Bell , Laval (part of the Montreal Census Metropolitan Area)









http://lacitedelacultureetdusportlaval.ca/medias.html
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Old October 8th, 2014, 09:56 AM   #4133
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I wouldn't trust a Hockey Canada-generated statistic as far as I could throw Gump Worsley.
I'm completely outside the hockey world, but that's my perception as well. Being in a position of power and influence for so long often breeds an environment of entitlement, complacency, and arrogance. I doubt an organization like Hockey Canada is willing to concede that 'fortress hockey' has vulnerability.

Giving the Leafs a monopoly in southern Ontario has been damaging to the development of the sport here. It's not an adequately served market. People will gravitate to other sports when you're ignored or your product is out of reach to so many people.

What will that Laval arena be used for, AHL?
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Old October 8th, 2014, 03:18 PM   #4134
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I wouldn't trust a Hockey Canada-generated statistic as far as I could throw Gump Worsley.
Before or after he's had a meal? And are we talking shotput style or can you swing him around by one arm and one leg?

Details, man!

...

My family in NJ noted a similar themed article earlier this year regarding youth enrollment in sports, finding that football and hockey were both lagging. Parents were citing costs as a major factor, in that both have limited field/rink space compared to hoops, baseball and soccer. Gymnastics and tennis were also struggling as those feature semi-pro coaches versus the volunteer deals you often get with team sports.
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Old October 8th, 2014, 05:07 PM   #4135
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Place Bell , Laval (part of the Montreal Census Metropolitan Area)









http://lacitedelacultureetdusportlaval.ca/medias.html
Montreal Canadiens minority owner Michael Landauer owns the club's AHL farm team, Hamilton Bulldogs. The plan is to move the AHL club to Laval and mimic what NHL teams in Toronto, Philly, Chicago etc. are doing by having their reserve players close by.

It's a lovely looking project. The video is a hoot with elegant, sophisticated and lonely-looking women - nice little black dress on one - roaming the lobbies and bar area. And wine glasses?!

Laval's a decent enough place but a bit of a hoser heaven. The girls that inhabit the hockey arenas there have bigger hair, higher heels and tighter jeans. The new arena replaces the much-storied Colisee, a crazy old barn that used to house Laval major junior hockey teams. It sits close by the Laval Penitentiary and it was a truly crazy and occasionally scary place to visit.



Gifted, skillful players like Mario Lemieux, Mike Bossy, Donald Audette, Vince Damphousse and Marty Lapointe played there.

So did thumpers like Gino Odjick and Sandy McCarthy and that was more to the tastes of the crazy fans who'd stand on the top rail of the boards and scream at players over the low glass or hang around the visitors bench yelling threats.

The former owner of the Laval Titan juniors, Jean Claude Morrisette, once attacked a referee with a beer bottle as he tried to leave after a game in the 1994 Memorial Cup final, arguably the worst Memorial Cup in modern memory. The ref, a prison guard at the penitentiary, needed hospital treatment for his cuts.

When the Titan were handed a big cheque by the league to prepare for the Memorial Cup, it was like something out of Fast Times at Ridgemont High. They went straight down to the local equivalent of Crazy Bob's and bought a set of whatever passes for Dominator MX10's in Quebec. Big, bitchin', refrigerator-sized speakers that they hung from the rafters to blast fans with(they blew out the woofers within a year).

Just before a Quebec-league playoff game, a group of suits from the Canadian Hockey League's Memorial Cup committee visited the arena to check out preparations. The arena DJ was an eclectic and mischievous fellow. He slipped on a disc of tracks he'd compiled for use at gay bars he worked at. As the group of suits toured the building gazing and nodding, he was blasting out some of the raunchiest tunes about the joys of sex involving, ahem, the tradesman's entrance.

The club created a huge banner reading House Of Pain, with pitchforks and blood drippings around the letters, that used to hang from creaky old catwalks above the visiting team's bench. It would be raised and lowered repeatedly - by hand - after the Titan scored.

After the Titan left, the arena was home to the Laval Chiefs of the North American Hockey League, an operation that basically used the movie Slapshot as it's template and Oogie Oglethorpe as it's icon of worship. The fights on the ice would spread into the beer-soaked stands. You had to see it to believe it.

Ahh, Laval. Stay classy.
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Old October 8th, 2014, 06:57 PM   #4136
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Before or after he's had a meal? And are we talking shotput style or can you swing him around by one arm and one leg?

Details, man!
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Old October 9th, 2014, 01:08 AM   #4137
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Flashman: I agreed with about 90% of what you wrote in that long post including the prediction that hockey will be the next shoe to drop. Where we disagree is in the extent to which the CFL will fall.

I'm an immigrant from London UK and gravitated to the CFL despite the presence of the NFL. I realize that I'm just one person, but I think people will be attracted to this league for the same reason I was. It's a good product, entertaining, affordable, and it's ours. In a world of myriad sports options it's really our only national sports league at the pro level. When's the last time a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup?

The CFL is the only league where I can talk to someone from Hamilton or Montreal or Saskatchewan and they're dialed in. The CFL acts as a glue that brings the country together. The Premiership does the same thing for the Brits. That's important in a country as vast and regionalized as Canada. These things don't matter to everyone, but they do matter to some of us.

Many people feel alienated by leagues like the NHL which caters to corporations and the wealthy. How many families can afford to go to Leafs games? Regular people can relate to leagues like the CFL and it's a refreshing alternative. There will always be people that love football because it's a wonderful sport and there will always be people that prefer our brand of football over 4 down football. And it's not just Canadians that fall into that category.

We still get Baltimore Stallions fans showing up at the Grey Cup.
I believe a there is about a 2/3rds overlap between those that watch NFL and CFL on TV in Canada. They aren't mutually exclusive. We get the same thing in the US where there is a big overlap between college football fans and NFL fans so I think the CFL can thrive just like NCAA teams. The CFL/NCAA have a lot in common such as having teams in cities without NFL teams and the tradition and atmosphere make the games a great entertainment value.

Also, aren't the minor league teams very popular as affordable alternatives for hockey? Here in Missouri, St. Louis has a minor league hockey team that goes after the crowd looking for cheap family entertainment despite having an NHL team, and there is a minor league baseball team here in Kansas City that goes after the family crowd and their biggest advertising campaigns have to deal with being a cheap alternative to the MLB team for families
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Old October 9th, 2014, 05:18 PM   #4138
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The Place Bell is being constructed right next to my house. I wonder what foot traffic/regular traffic will look like in a few years.
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Old October 10th, 2014, 03:39 PM   #4139
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I believe a there is about a 2/3rds overlap between those that watch NFL and CFL on TV in Canada. They aren't mutually exclusive. We get the same thing in the US where there is a big overlap between college football fans and NFL fans so I think the CFL can thrive just like NCAA teams. The CFL/NCAA have a lot in common such as having teams in cities without NFL teams and the tradition and atmosphere make the games a great entertainment value.
That sounds about right to me, but Toronto is a big question mark. The US has no equivalent to this city. It's like your NYC, LA, SF, and Chicago all rolled into one metropolis: closing in on 20% of our national population.

Canadians do watch both the CFL and NFL, but I'd like to see the CFL resuscitate in the Toronto market to the point that it supports 2-3 franchises much like the Premiership does in London (6 teams) or the AFL does in Melbourne (9 teams). We can't have such an important market effectively siphoned off to the NFL. The NFL and CFL can co-exist the way they do now, but putting an actual team in Canada would do permanent damage to the CFL and its future prospects in this country.

The NFL likely recognizes that and also sees the benefit in having a growing, stable, and stronger CFL. I can't see them risking it when there is next to no up side for the NFL. Putting a team in Canada would not increase NFL revenues. It will simply refocus revenue towards 1 franchise instead of 36.

Quote:
Originally Posted by weava View Post
Also, aren't the minor league teams very popular as affordable alternatives for hockey? Here in Missouri, St. Louis has a minor league hockey team that goes after the crowd looking for cheap family entertainment despite having an NHL team, and there is a minor league baseball team here in Kansas City that goes after the family crowd and their biggest advertising campaigns have to deal with being a cheap alternative to the MLB team for families
CHL and AHL do well across Canada, but they're a couple notches down from the CFL in prestige and stature.
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Last edited by isaidso; October 10th, 2014 at 03:49 PM.
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Old October 10th, 2014, 07:04 PM   #4140
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