Tagliabue slams door on Canadian expansion
Friday, February 3, 2006 Posted at 1:29 PM EST
Detroit â€? National Football League commissioner Paul Tagliabue says the league has no plans to expand into Canada.
During his state of the league address Friday, Tagliabue said the league's priority remains putting a team back in Los Angeles.
The long-standing notion has been that if and when the NFL returns to Los Angeles, it would add a second expansion team to keep the two conferences balanced.
The NFL currently has 32 teams, 16 per conference. Los Angeles would make for 33.
However, Tagliabue said the league is willing to go with an odd number of teams for several years, thus delivering a blow to Canada's chances of landing a club.
Toronto has long lobbied for an NFL expansion franchise and in the past Tagliabue has always kept the door open to the possibility, although during a visit to they city in 2002 he told Canadian fans not to hold their breath.
"I don't see any expansion on the horizon," he said then.
His latest comments seemed to underline that.
In October, Tagliabue suggested Toronto might host a regular-season game next season, the way Mexico City did in 2005, but on Friday he also shot that down.
Tagliabue has long teased Canadians about the possibility of expansion to the north, always stopping short of making any firm commitments.
During a 1995 visit to Toronto, he said: "We're very interested in this market. We know how much interest there is here in the NFL and we have equally as much interest."
In 1997, he said that any expansion to Canada would have to consider the possible effects on the CFL.
"So when it comes to Toronto, Vancouver or any other possible expansion location in Canada, we also have the element of the Canadian Football League. But that's part of what we will be studying in depth beginning now and going forward for the rest of this year."