Expand to a 10 or 12 team league. Is this viable?

Hi Guys,

There has been much discussion on some of the other boards about revamping the CFL's playoff format. Some are in favour of doing away with the current two division system. Some believe that the two division system is actually detrimental to the CFL. Some want the best 6 teams based on wins/losses to qualify for a playoff position. Others believe the CFL needs to expand to 10 or even 12 teams in hopes of bolstering interest.

There have been some good arguments on both sides but the idea of a 10-12 team CFL league caught my eye.

Is a 10-12 all Canadian team league even possible? Here are some reasons why I cannot see a 10-12 team league in the near future or even in the distant future [whatever that might mean lol]:

  1. In the 90s the CFL tried to expand by bringing in some U.S. teams. In one season there were actually 13 teams playing in the CFL. That failed and I'm glad it did. The CFL is a tradition for many of us. It is as Canadian as maple syrup and the maple leaf tree and Rocky mountains. Many of us grew up with the CFL in our blood. I embraced the CFL in the 1963 Grey Cup game and I've been a fan ever since. I'll never get used to the idea Canada's CFL Grey Cup having resided for a year in Baltimore. Not that I have anything against the U.S. I don't.

  2. While I would like to see some expansion it appears that this is easier said than done. Even with 9 teams over the past 60 or so years, the CFL has struggled. Ottawa Roughriders. Montreal Alouettes. Even the B.C. Lions were on the brink at one time of going under.

  3. Talk about expanding into the Atlantic Provinces has been going on for years. I'd love to see a 10th team. Perhaps we may see one sooner than later and I think that would be fabulous. I'm sure there are many fans east of Montreal in the Atlantic provinces that would love to see the "Atlantic Schooners". BUT... IT HAS NOT BECOME A REALITY....... YET!

  4. Attendance from year to year though it fluctuates has also been consistent as the following graph and info shows over the last 60 years or so.... https://stats.cfldb.ca/league/cfl/attendance/... There has to be a reason for that. These stats do not appear to support expansion of even one additional team let alone three.

  5. In 1996 the Ottawa Rough Riders folded leaving the CFL with only 8 teams. It would take 18 years before Ottawa would have its own team again. How long would it take to increase to 12 teams in the CFL?

  6. Some are advocating 10-12 teams in the CFL. I'm all for it but what cities would [could?] the CFL expand to? What cities could actually support a CFL team? The talk is that Halifax might be able to and that is good. It will be great to see it become a reality but I cannot think of a single other city that the CFL could expand to and expand successfully. I've not heard anything. I've not read anything. Perhaps others have.

I would be very interested in hearing other fans' thoughts on this expansion thing. I for one would really like to see it to happen but I cannot see it happening for a very long time.

I love this game. I love the CFL. I certainly would like to see it remain healthy and grow.

Here's a great link provider by "Grover" regarding expansion into the Atlantic provinces:

<2. While I would like to see some expansion it appears that this is easier said than done. Even with 9 teams over the past 60 or so years, the CFL has struggled. Ottawa Roughriders. Montreal Alouettes. Even the B.C. Lions were on the brink at one time of going under. >

A bad business is a bad business, no matter what that "business" is (not the league as a whole--but individual).

BC has made poor mistakes in the past, but the four hour games we we're having not too long ago certainly didn't help.

As for expansion, unless people from Saskatoon are willing to drive 2.5 hours to play in the New Mosiac Stadium, the only city that is a definite YES would be Quebec City, but that would require using a Grey Cup or two to fund new stadium (if the Laval doesn't want to get into the action).

If Quebec City can support an NHL team they can definitely support a CFL team.

Like Kevin always says " If the Cfl can survive the 90s, it can survive anything."

I like the progress that has been made in recent years. I think we need to keep on the same path and then introduce a 10th team in the near future if we continue growing our fan base. Because of the debacle of the last expansion, we need to be sure about the next one.

Even if there were three Canadian cities ready to start teams tomorrow, is there enough Canadian talent for that? I know this discussion came up when Ottawa entered the league, but adding three teams would be a huge shock to the football “system” in this country.

Not trying to stir the pot or advocate for or against anything, just genuinely curious what the product would look like with three new teams.

Who wouldn't love to have 12 thriving teams in Canadian markets?

It would help to appease both those who want a variety of different matchups and those who want to maintain a divided league.

Oddly, there does seem to be actual hope for a 10th team in Halifax, but no one's going to be holding their breath on that just yet.

If there were suitable stadiums and ownership groups (and those are huge IFs), then Halifax and Quebec would be the natural choices. After that it gets murky. It should be a western based team if we want to remain a divided league. Perhaps the Okanagan will continue growing rapidly and be that 12th market in 15 or 20 years.

However, even with 9 teams, there are steps the league can take to rectify its flawed playoff seeding system. The simplest way would be to return to a schedule heavy on divisional matchups. The problem there is that the millennials apparently want a variety of matchups rather than the same 3 or 4 teams several times a season.

The other way, of course, is to maintain the league's unified approach to regular season scheduling into the playoffs and seed the teams based purely on their onfield performance over the course of the season, and not on their geography.

Personally, my biggest desire would be to get Halifax in, schedule the regular season so that teams only play 5 or 6 games against the other division and the rest within their own, get rid of the crossover, and stick with that until team 11 ever actually gets into the mix.

You raise a good point letsgoticats. :slight_smile:

Just a reminder guys, I would really like this discussion to focus on the potential of expansion of the CFL and whether expanding to one, two or even three teams is even a viable option for the CFL. There is a great discussion on re-structuring the current playoff format topic next door “Re-seed playoffs” that Bombers27 started.

Perhaps I mislead a few when I used the term " solution" in my thread title so I’ve changed it.

A 10th team would work. 10 is will probably be the max which is fine with me.

Thanks Dave well said. I'm still learning about CFL. My First real live game was in 1956.

You probably know my views already. I could right a book today on CFL attendance problems.
But NO it's useless. But I've done some real looking into needed changes. Few points :

CFL play today has never been better with outstanding athletes.
Today CFL has to face reality and make solid changes to bring back the big time interest.
Get this out of the way Quickly!! from a western fan point of view.
Halifax in the league will be the knife that kills the camel. BAD move!
Today local pubs want big profile sports. On Sunday all 20 TV's are NFL. They will not play CFL games on Sunday. Out of 200 guest probably 5 want CFL games. BIG name cities draw attention.
Soccer/football success due to big city names. White caps vs Seattle, TO vs NY

Eastern teams need bigger attendance to keep up with the west. Yes there's salary cap but for the east. West has more slush money. Check profits of each team.
Talked to several CFL players and they agree that CFL should become a developmental league.
NFL has hugh practice squad who they pay more then CFL regulars.
I watch JR hockey and love it. Not NHL but affordable. Fans in BC WANT big time sporting events as most larger cities do.
What happen 50/30/10 years ago does not apply today. Done right could bring big profits for owners.
Cheers! May not happen BUT just maybe

I think the next few years with the group seeking a franchise in Halifax will be very telling.

If there are any other potential ownership groups in other markets, they'll be watching closely. If Halifax can succeed, then who knows what might happen after that. Still a lot of work to be done there before we can get a good grasp of how realistic the idea is this time.

The other factor on the horizon is the next broadcast rights deal. Will be the big leap that some hope for and that would make all teams financially viable, or something less? If there's a Halifax team, that would mean 5 games per week instead of 4 and would obviously give the league greater bargaining power (although also one more team taking its cut from the broadcast $$$ pie).

If the league ever does get to the position where its broadcast money can virtually guarantee profitability, it will certainly garner more interest in expansion franchises.

I agree 10 is probably the max you could go... where you put and 11th and 12th teams, to keep the East/West balance? Halifax is the most logical place to go for the 10th team, provided that fan base is there. There are a few who have mentioned Saskatoon(its has a bigger population than Regina) & Quebec City, but could those two places sustain a CFL franchise? I would guess that answer to that is no.

"Halifax in the league will be the knife that kills the camel. BAD move!"...by Brianjoxx

Please elaborate. Why do you think it would be a bad move?

Twelve would be great, but there is no viable market in Western Canada that isn't already served. Saskatoon would just cannibalize Roughrider fans. The Okanagan region might get big enough eventually, but I don't sense any desire there for a CFL team.

Atlantic region would probably work, and Quebec MIGHT work. Beyond that I see no other options for the East Division. And of course there is the issue of needing stadiums, owners and broad corporate support. Even a 10th team is probably a longshot. But certainly if we go above 10, we should aim for 12. An uneven number creates scheduling headaches.

I'll echo others going to 10 short term seems viable. If this group in Halifax is sucessful, it will be the template for other potential investors thinking of putting teams in other new markets, similar to how this group looked at the Ottawa model.

Anything beyond 10, I think the league will need to focus on 10 healthy franchises. Separating the football ops from the business side. Then it will more appealing to other potentially suitors and vet from there.

Here is an interesting tidbit I came across:

"In October 2009, it was officially announced that the Edmonton Eskimos would face the Toronto Argonauts in Moncton, New Brunswick, on September 26, 2010, in the first regular season game ever in Atlantic Canada. That game was referred to as Touchdown Atlantic.The game was played at the new Moncton Stadium on the campus of Université de Moncton in front of a reported sell-out crowd of 20,725. Tickets went on sale to the general public on March 25, 2010, with a one-day pre-sale being conducted the day before. After 32 hours of being up for sale, the 2010 Touchdown Atlantic was announced as a sellout on March 25, 2010. The Eskimos won the game 24–6 thanks to their 247 interception return yards on six interceptions, the second most interception return yards in CFL history."

A sell-out crowd of almost 21, 000 fans? Not bad at all! And THAT was in Moncton, not Halifax. Interesting.

Always been a big fan of a Maritime franchise, if the ownership would materialize. Believe it would be marketed as a regional franchise, with support coming from PEI and NB.
After that the demographics and geography of this country make it dicey.
As has been statedover and over QC has more people than Hfx-Dart and almost a stadium but little interest.
There is a giant void in the centre of the country (northern Ont)
Out west, Saskatoon has more pop. than Regina, but it would destroy the Rider franchise.
Victoria has a decent metro pop., but don't think there is a lot of interest or enough fans in outlying areas.
The only other decent population bases are London, K-W and Windsor. London is the only one with a strong passion for football (Western). Plus, there's the stigma of another southern Ont team.
Of course there is also the issue of needing stadia in all of the markets mentioned above. Only one currently has a building of over 10 000 permanent seats.

I would love a HEALTHY 12-team league but the reality is that probably won't happen for a LONG LONG time.

Hopefully the success of the Ottawa franchise could be a positive influence for any potential ownership groups deciding on whether or not to start a team and the building of a stadium.

This topic has been discussed already on other threads several different ways.

Bottom line: Canadian markets are far and few between.

Maritimes assuming Halifax, Windsor/Detroit are the only cities that you can expand in Canada such that you are a) not interfering in another existing teams market, b) adding potential new fans.

Victoria -- forget it. It is a retirement community never mind needing a stadium.

Southern Ontario (anywhere but Windsor) -- either clash with Hamilton, or are GTA area where the Argos can not even put 20k people in the stands for a normal game.

Quebec City -- clash with Montreal who also can not fill up there own stadium.

There are no other Canadian cities viable enough that are not dividing up the existing fan base.

You want 12 teams than you will have to accept that some US markets will have to be explored. St. Louis, Portland and Hartford are three that could work maybe, but to even think about going to any of these cities the league would have to do homework before entertaining the thought. Nobody wants a repeat of the last expansion to Shevport ?? who?? Memphis, or San Antonio just to name a few. The absolute dumbest places to put your first attempt at growing in the US.

Why do you think Quebec City would clash with Montreal?

I have no idea if the support is there for their own team, but they are decent sized market and they're much further away from Montreal than Ottawa is. It's about comparable to the Calgary-Edmonton distance.

When they had their NHL team, they certainly didn't clash with Montreal, well not in a bad way.

Australian Rules Footballsomehow they have 15 teams and a salary cap of almost 10 MillionAustralian dollars! Its a contact sport and the ball looks like a football- our football.Their population is less than ours and I can probably tell you they wouldn’t have to constantly defend ARF from companies like Rogers.

So, how does a smaller population with a big land footprinthave 15 teams and pay their players 2 X as much. Their stadiums look every bit as nice as ours.

details herehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Football_League