Argos, CFL looking into NFL team

Did anyone see this story yet? Interesting...


The ownership of the Toronto Argonauts and the CFL have begun laying groundwork to buy an NFL franchise, reports the Globe and Mail.

Sources told the newspaper that David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski, along with the CFL commissioner Mark Cohon and some of the CFL governors, are involved in a plan that could bring an NFL team to Toronto while keeping the CFL and Argonauts healthy.

"It's the single biggest issue the CFL is facing," a league source told the Globe and Mail.

The newspaper estimates the price tag on an NFL team could be as high as US$1 billion.

And here is the full story from the Globe & Mail. :cowboy:

[url=] ... tball/home[/url]

Argos owners kick NFL into play

From Thursday's Globe and Mail
October 10, 2007 at 11:23 PM EDT

Believing there is a real possibility of an NFL franchise coming to Toronto, the owners of the Toronto Argonauts have begun laying the groundwork to buy that team in partnership with other owners in the CFL.

David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski, who purchased the Argos out of bankruptcy in the fall of 2003, have long worried that the arrival of a National Football League team might endanger the 130-year-old franchise, wipe out their substantial investment in the Canadian Football League, and damage the viability of the league as a whole.

Though Mr. Cynamon and Mr. Sokolowski declined to comment yesterday, a variety of sources within and outside the CFL have confirmed that the Argonauts owners have decided to take the offensive rather than passively await the arrival of the NFL juggernaut.
In conversations that have included other CFL governors and league commissioner Mark Cohon, the Argos owners have outlined a strategy that would include actively pursuing any NFL franchise that might be a candidate for relocation to Toronto as a means of ensuring the survival of the Argonauts and the CFL.

David Cynamon, right, and Howard Sokolowski have already crossed paths with the NFL after signing suspended tailback Ricky Williams for the 2006 CFL season. (Gary Hershorn/Reuters)

"It's the single biggest issue the CFL is facing," a league source familiar with the situation said.

Any perceived threat to the existence of the CFL would be met with considerable public outcry, especially in Western Canada, where the league enjoys its strongest community and cultural ties.

In an interview last week, B.C. Lions president Bob Ackles said he believed an NFL franchise in Toronto would kill the CFL and that he had already been working to mobilize political opposition should the threat become real.

The NFL could sweeten the idea for CFL owners by granting the league the right to approve any potential NFL owner in Toronto. In theory, that might be part of a new working agreement between the two leagues.

Mr. Cohon declined to comment yesterday, but did issue a statement saying: "The CFL and NFL have enjoyed a very strong working relationship for over a decade, and we have expressed mutual interest in continuing that relationship into the future. However, at no point have the CFL and NFL discussed the notion of CFL ownership of a Canadian NFL franchise."

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy added: "We do not have any expansion plans and no teams have filed the necessary paperwork for relocation."
While the NFL has no current plans for expansion, several existing teams are believed to be potential candidates for relocation, including the Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings, Jacksonville Jaguars and New Orleans Saints.

Of those franchises, the Bills seem most likely to move in the short term, given that 89-year-old owner Ralph Wilson has publicly declared the team will be sold to the highest bidder after his death and that the Buffalo market might be too small to satisfy the revenue demands of an NFL franchise purchased for current value.

That combination of circumstances is believed to have piqued the interest of Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, who last fall announced he was teaming with cable entrepreneur Ted Rogers in hopes of bringing the NFL to Toronto.
Now, it appears Mr. Tanenbaum and Mr. Rogers will have some competition when and if the Bills or another team hit the open market.

There would be some complications involved if a consortium of CFL owners attempted to buy an NFL team, foremost among them a purchase price that could approach $1-billion (U.S.).

Under NFL rules, a franchise's principal owner must have at least 30-per-cent equity interest in the corporate entity that controls a club, and no more than 25 "owners" can hold equity interest in the team. There are a limited number of individuals among the current CFL governors who might be able to come up with that 30-per-cent stake.

But one advantage an Argonauts/CFL ownership group might possess is the ability to provide political cover for the NFL if it crosses the U.S. border for the first time.

In 1974, the World Football League announced it planned to operate a franchise in Toronto under the ownership of John F. Bassett, only to retreat to Memphis after then-federal health minister Marc Lalonde introduced legislation to block the league and protect the CFL (that Canadian Football Act died at committee stage).

But if the NFL were to arrive in Toronto with a CFL connection and with the promise that it might actually help the Argonauts (by forcing prospective season-ticket holders to also purchase Argos season tickets, for example) it might be an easier sell with the Canadian public and legislators.

There would also be the issue of where a Toronto NFL team would play. Because the Rogers Centre (current home of the Argonauts and baseball's Toronto Blue Jays) lacks the necessary seating capacity, it could only serve as a temporary home.

Any prospective owner would face the challenge of building a new, NFL-specific stadium. Both the Tanenbaum/Rogers group and Argos/CFL group believe it could be financed almost entirely through the sale of seat licences.