Yes, I've created another thread on expansion. :twisted: Let the groaning commence.
Let me first say that I've read through enough of the threads here to see that most of you are fed up with talk of expansion (particularly to the US), but what I've read has led me to come up with more variations on the idea to throw around.
I should also note that I am an American fan (Baltimore area) and very much enjoyed the CFL and the Stallions while they were here.
I am happy to read that attendance figures have gone up recently in the East (Toronto and Hamilton) and I'm hoping the CFL is able to expand to a healthy 10 to 12 Canadian team league (from among Ottawa, Halifax, Quebec City, Windsor, and London).
I've read posts from those who think the league could be successful in northern US states, which I agree with. Unfortunately, you need a big enough population, so a lot of the northernmost states out west are out of the question. However, I think there could be enough support for an American conference or rival American league (say, the "American Canadian Football League") that the CFL could arrange games and championships with (through which you generate interest in Canadian football, in general). This would obviously be down the road and would have to be done correctly. You'd need strong owners and proper stadiums. I understand stadium problems were at least a good part of the reason the Sacramento Gold Miners gave up and moved to San Antonio. I know a lot of you see issues with the import rule as it applies to US teams. I'm not sure of the right answer with regards to the import rule, but perhaps something could be worked out.
I think there should be at least 8 US teams, and perhaps as many as 12 right off the bat. A larger US TV network deal (even if it on something like CW (which essentially replaced WB & UPN)) should be worked out to help finance the addition of the American teams (e.g., stadium upgrades or new stadiums), and the entire CFL, in general. Since it sounds like getting 30,000 average fan attendance makes for a healthy CFL franchise, I would suggest limiting stadium capacity in the smaller markets to somewhere around that number (at least for starting off).
Here's a possible 12 team division arrangement:
West (Rocky Mountain) Division
Boise Behemoths (Boise, ID)
Great Salt Lake Effect (Salt Lake City, UT)
Portland Wave (Portland, OR)
Spokane Summit (Spokane, WA)
Central (Great Lakes) Division
Columbus Discovery (Columbus, OH)
Milwaukee Buzz (Milwaukee, WI)
Toledo Express (Toledo, OH)
Western Michigan Machine (Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo, MI)
Albany Empire (Albany, NY)
Hartford Rebellion (Hartford, CT)
Harrisburg Hunters (Harrisburg, PA)
Maine Reason (Portland, ME)
I think it is important to have a few teams clustered together to help generate regional rivalries. Some markets are on the small end, but the CFL would be the only pro game in town. Boise and Spokane are small markets out west, but both are growing fairly rapidly. The Great Lakes area markets aren't growing much (with the auto industry declining), but they are big enough I think to support a CFL team. Harrisburg is somewhat small on its own, but can be seen as part of a larger region (Lancaster, York) which drives up its TV market. (Plus, Harrisburg is close enough to Baltimore that I could easily drive up to catch some CFL games. )
I see the US schedule (18 games for 12 teams) going something like home-and-away against your division (6 games), 4 games against another US division, 4 games against a Canadian division, and 4 games against teams from the remaining US and Canadian divisions based on prior season finishing position (random seeding in the inaugural season).
Some population/market numbers:
Boise - #89 US Metro Area (544,201); #118 TV Market
Portland (OR) - #25 Metro (2,095,861); #23 TV
Salt Lake City - #51 Metro (1,034,484); #35 TV
Spokane - #108 Metro (440,706); #77 TV
Columbus - #33 Metro (1,708,625); #32 TV
Grand Rapids - #66 Metro (771,185); #39 TV
[nearby Kalamazoo - #146 Metro (319,348)]
Milwaukee - #38 Metro (1,512,855); #34 TV
Toledo - #78 Metro (656,696); #71 TV
Albany - #58 Metro (848,879); #56 TV
Hartford - #45 Metro (1,188,241); #28 TV
Harrisburg - #95 Metro (521,812); #41 TV
[nearby Lancaster, PA - #100 Metro (490,562)
& York, PA - #117 (408,801)]
Portland (ME) - #97 Metro (514,227); #74 TV
Other possibilities include:
Anchorage, AK - #139 Metro (351,049); #154 TV
Akron, OH - #70 Metro (702,235); #17 TV (Cle.)
[nearby Canton, OH - #116 Metro (409,996)]
Dayton, OH - #60 Metro (843,577); #58 TV
Flint, MI - #107 Metro (443,883); #66 TV
[nearby Saginaw, MI - #198 Metro (208,356)]
(Saginaw Bay Boatmen)
Youngstown, OH - #83 Metro (593,168); #103 TV
Rochester, NY - #50 Metro (1,039,028); #78 TV
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, PA - #87 Metro (550,546); #53 TV