The following article is from today's (July 3) Toronto Star. I hope it works out the way BY envisions it. Only time will tell I guess. The Argos and the Cats really don't have a choice except to work 'with' the Bills. They certainly can't go head-to-head with the Bills/NFL and hope to win.
An Argo-Cat fan
Ticats will come back, owner vows
STEVE RUSSELL/TORONTO STAR
Faced with the hypothetical doomsday scenario – the Toronto Argonauts blown to oblivion by the arrival of the NFL Bills – the CFL commissioner did not mince words.
"The CFL as we know it," Mark Cohon was saying last week, "would not survive."
It's settled, then: the CFL needs a thriving franchise in Hogtown. So wouldn't it be a good idea to get one in Hamilton some time soon? The Ticats, sadly, haven't been much of a foil to their big-smoke historic rivals these past handful of seasons.
Rescued from bankruptcy in 2003 by moneyed native son Bob Young, they've been mostly backsliding on the field. They tallied 5 wins in 2005, 4 in 2006, 3 last summer ... How low can they go? Well, they were blown out in last week's opener by the Alouettes, 33-10.
But Young, on the eve of tonight's Toronto-Hamilton tilt at Rogers Centre, remains hopeful a turnaround looms.
"My prediction," said Young in a telephone interview, "is it's going to start (tonight) on the field."
If you're a Hamilton fan taking Young's positive spin with a grain of salt, the owner understands. The technology entrepreneur is nothing if not self-deprecating, chalking up many of his tenure's travails to the illusion of success that came with a nine-win season in 2004, and to his own misguided hires.
"It's now obvious to me why we were as successful as we were in the 2004 season. We won nine games, four of which were against the (league-worst and now defunct) Ottawa Renegades," Young said. "Speaking in the third person, the owner was a complete idiot when it came to rebuilding."
He got a laugh and expanded the thought. He said that, while he has run his technology businesses by hiring smart, young executives over older, experienced ones – "Technology moves so quickly that what you knew in the 1980s really doesn't apply to today" – failure has taught him the philosophy isn't transferable to the gridiron.
"Football is exactly the reverse. Bob O'Billovich (the Hamilton general manager since December) is probably the guy making the single biggest difference to the Ticats this year, and Bob's (68) years old. Bob's very strength comes from the fact he's seen every possible permutation and combination ... in a game that hasn't changed in 60 years."
One thing that's changed is the NFL's encroachment on CFL soil, eight Bills games in Toronto in the coming five seasons.
Young, seeing an opportunity where some see an enemy, said he is in the process of forming a marketing partnership with his NFL neighbour.
"We're trying to help the Bills be successful in Buffalo," he said. "(We) actually have a lot in common with the Bills. If we can get Bills fans to come to Ivor Wynne Stadium when the Bills aren't playing, we're more than happy to convince our fans to go down to Buffalo when the Ticats aren't playing. ... Both organizations are looking forward to working together in the future to do some joint marketing."
Perhaps Hamilton's greatest possible service to the betterment of the Canadian game would be to field a competitive club. Young acknowledged that the hometown citizenry is growing "impatient" with the franchise's chronic fumblings, and attendance has dipped from an average of 28,002 in 2005 to 23,201 last year. But Young called the fan base "surprisingly supportive" and promised them better – if not tonight, then soon-ish.
"You would think they would all be throwing rocks at us, and instead they extend sympathy," Young said.
"Having said that, I don't really want either sympathy or rocks. I want to win. ... Touch wood, we'll do it this year as opposed to next. I just have to hedge in my promise of instant gratification, because I've been proven wrong more than once in my predictions on this stuff."