I hear what you're saying, Hfx, and agree with you for the most part.
However, we have had success in the past with a less talented team when we had the Burgers. In the 1977 season, we drew close to 60,000 average per game, which rivaled the NFL at the time.
From where I sit, and I apologize in advance for repeating myself, but I think the problem is with football in this country. The CFL seems to draw better out West, although there is only one franchise that sells out regularly - Regina. Nobody else does that! TSN has done what it can to promote the game, and the CFL panel does a bang-up job with their analysis and even humour.
The biggest problem with the CFL is the NHL; not that the NHL is a problem, but it happens to be the number 1 draw, sports-wise, in this country. Basketball has become popular in Toronto and the Blue Jays seem to draw fairly well, but hockey is in a league of its own where popularity is concerned. I have often said that even medium-sized cities would draw well with an NHL franchise. Compare, for example, the press coverage of the Habs versus the Als. Hardly any comparison, right? That tells us something right there.
Look at the absymal state of the CFL in Toronto, a city with over 5,000,000 population in the GTA. They can barely draw 20,000 fans for home games. Ottawa this year was a novelty; I wonder how long it will take for that to wear off. Lest we forget, both Ottawa and Montreal were without professional football for years and life went on.
IMO, football itself has to be better promoted and in the public eye more. We should invite HS/college players to home games at reduced rates; HS/college players should be invited to special training camps to learn various positions; there should be more indoor facilities where future players can hone their skills during the colder months of the year... When we start approaching a point where thousands upon thousands of kids are playing football, things can/will change.
Definitely, we need better people involved from ownership, management... BUT - buying a CFL franchise is definitely a crap shoot with no guarantee of a return. It's very hard to attract someone with deep pockets and football savvy under those conditions. Hard to attract sponsors with deep pockets also when they see small crowds. At the end of the day, a professional sports franchise is a business. For owners to take the plunge, they have to see a future in it and even the possibility of making a few shekels in the process.
Sorry to sound pessimistic about this, but I have always felt that the CFL is in many ways hanging on. I know I may well be ruffling feathers by saying that, but this is what I perceive, season in and season out. The product on the field is very exciting and I have enjoyed the play of our athletes.
I sincerely hope that the CFL brand gains in popularity and interest. I would like nothing better than to see thousands and thousands of season-ticket requests, resulting in building new, larger, state-on-the-art stadia and even expansion into other cities. Is that realistic in the short and medium term? For the sake of the CFL, I sure hope so.