Interesting Article On David Braley & Toronto

From today's Toronto Star.

Ghost ship Argo foundering under absentee ownership: Cox

An absentee landlord is rarely good news for tenants.

Likewise, an absentee owner is rarely good news for a pro sports franchise.

After almost two seasons of being controlled by David Braley, who also owns the B.C. Lions, the Argonauts are anything but rejuvenated as a franchise, anything but in a stronger position than they were.

The team, despite playing in the weak East Division, is somewhat better, but attendance has declined. Even now, with an NHL lockout theoretically freeing up discretionary sports dollars in the GTA and the lure of a Grey Cup game at the Rogers Centre in November, the stands are half-full and the profile of the team is distressingly low, lower than it was during the days when the club was owned by Howard Sokolowski and David Cynamon.

Having Braley own 25 cent of the league was always a bad idea with little upside. It still is.

His blue team crashed to its fourth loss in five outings on Sunday, delivering a dreadful performance with first place on the line in a 24-12 setback to the similarly struggling Montreal Alouettes. Creative counting put official attendance at 25,348, which is considered a very good gate for this football team these days.

Back in 2005 under Sokolowski and Cynamon, that crowd would have been a disappointment. Then, they were drawing more than 31,000 a game. In 2009, the final year of the old regime, an average of 26,374 turned out to watch a horrific 3-15 squad.

That looks like heaven now.

Since Braley “saved? the team — Sokolowski and Cynamon wanted other CFL owners to pitch in dollars to keep the Toronto franchise viable — it’s been pretty much downhill as far as both the profile of the team in the city and the willingness of fans to attend games.

That can’t be what Cohon was hoping for.

Sokolowski and Cynamon, whatever their shortcomings were as owners, did produce a championship and certainly cared about the team, maybe too much.

Braley, by contrast, is seldom seen, never heard from. Beat writers who follow the team every week have never met him.

Bob Nicholson was thrown overboard as team president in the last off-season, ostensibly because he had failed to excite the market. Well, it’s no better now. There’s less media coverage of the team and the promised increase in pizzazz through the hiring of head coach Scott Milanovich and acquisition of quarterback Ricky Ray simply hasn’t materialized.

Before Milanovich and Ray arrived, the Argos were among the lowest-scoring CFL teams. They still are.

With Ray out with an injured knee, the Argos, now 7-8, have won only one game. But even with him this was a team that had a difficult time scoring from the red zone.

The team’s struggles are about personnel and coaching and consistency and all the things that separate good teams from bad.

But Braley promised to turn a deteriorating situation around. He has not. The team has a losing record, the fans aren’t being turned on to the team.

His impact has been neutral, at best.

At least the 100th Grey Cup match at the dome is sold out. But it was the last time here, as well, so that’s not exactly a major accomplishment.

The Argonaut game experience is about the same, nothing great, although it was distressing to see that the enormous banners of past Argo stars that used to adorn the empty upper-bowl sections were gone on Sunday. In their place were ads for athletic gear, cars, coffee and media.

Roughed up by Hamilton and Saskatchewan the last two weeks, Montreal on Sunday looked nothing like the perennial powerhouse that has dominated the East for years, but it was still more than enough for the win.

The Argos led 9-7 in the third quarter, at least until Milanovich made the odd decision to have Noel Prefontaine, playing his first game in months, fake a punt and try to throw on third-and-six to defensive back Jordan Younger.

A gamble with a guy who hasn’t played throwing to a guy who doesn’t catch for a living. Shockingly, it failed, and the game was never in the home team’s control thereafter.

The Argos, fortuitously for them, would have to literally not win another game to miss post-season play. But they’ve already missed a chance to re-engage the interest of this market with the NHL on hiatus and the Blue Jays having experienced arguably their worst season.

This is like a ghost ship now. Pilot-less, aimless. At least Sherwood Schwarz liked to drop by for a chat once in a while.

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You would know better than I, but were things really that much better under C&S? From everything I've heard, their attendance numbers were grossly inflated and part of their last year they didn't even have a practice squad. I find it hard to imagine things are not better now than in 08 and 09.

If no local ownership is willing to step forward and try and save this sinking ship, things will continue to get worse. It is quite obvious to those of us who were not drinking the kool aid ,the Argo,s are inflating attendance numbers again and the franchise is in rough shape. Everytime somebody posted about the reality of the situation in Toronto , the day dreamers would be shouting that people were being negative and things were great in Argo land. Avoiding or pretending there isn't a huge problem in Toronto is foolish and what is the upside to pretending all is well?

I hope the Argo's find local and committed ownership, build a stadium similar to Winnipeg and SK.The biggest city in Canada should at least have a 30 000 seat stadium.

Hard to take a guy like Cox seriously when he just penned a column bemoaning the fact that the CFL isn't in some kind of crisis right now. I'm not a member of the "Toronto media hates the CFL" group, but Cox does stretch his credibility rather thin when he writes articles about the CFL being more interesting when things aren't going well. He's looking for controversy, and I guess he's trying to create some himself.

As for the Argos now, they have a solid owner in Braley. He is a guy that has shown time and time again that he is willing to do what is best for the league. Things aren't great in Toronto right now, but Braley won't abandon them.

Braley is pretty local; he's from Hamilton.

Can't comment on the "rough shape" opinion because we don't know the financial situation in Toronto because their finances are not made public, but I would suspect that they are in the toughest spot of any of the eight teams (with Hamilton probably not too far behind).

As for attendance figures, the Argos aren't really inflating them.. The numbers they give out are accurate as to tickets purchased, but that differs mightily from butts in seats. But this is not special to Toronto; every team posts their attendance figures in regards to how many tickets they sold, not how many were scanned coming into the stadium. So the official attendance figure might say 22,000 or so when there is only 15,000 in the stands. But that's not inflating the number, but simply doing what every other pro sports team does.

With Cynamon & Sokolowski the Argos at least had some ownership visibility. Attendance under C&S was also better than it is now. Doesn’t matter if they gave away freebies, they put asses in the stands. What’s better, having an empty seat or giving it away for free?

The idea that Braley is/was going to save football in Toronto is a huge farce. Braley took over the Argos for one reason - - to cash in on the 100th Grey Cup. He’ll dump the franchise within a year or two at the most.

The Lions are Braley’s baby - - the Argos are a foster child that he’s looking after for a short while. Look at the difference in how he treats the two franchises. When BC plays in Hamilton, Braley hosts the entire team for dinner at his place. When Toronto plays in Hamilton? Nothing.

I still can’t understand how the Argos are so allegedly unprofitable. Let’s open up the books and see where the money’s going. Compare the Argo payroll for front office staff, administrators and other hangers on to what the rest of the league is spending.

Prime example is Braley bringing in his buddy Mr. Bouffant, Chris Rudge. Other than preen for the cameras with his Napoleonic Era hairstyle and white suits, what exactly has Rudge done for the Argos?

Let's revisit this quote in 24 months.

The media always look back fondly on times when they had owners who were in the media a lot, because that gave them something to write about. Braley is comparatively invisible in the Toronto media.

I think the comments on the article itself covered the issues nicely. It's definitely looking at C&S with rose tinted glasses.

well in the 4 years i have been following the argos, starting with the 2009 season (3 of them as a season ticket holder), they have done better than they were in 2009. From what i have read, braley is more a behind the curtain kind of guy, staying out of the spotlight, but yeah the argos definitely need more done for them that is obvious to us, the fans.

Damien Cox. Enough said. I take anything he says or write with a grain of salt.

Damien Cox= Rogers stooge nuff said.

email this goof and tell him what you think

Braley is dead on, all the CFL needs out of Toronto is a team and I'm not even sure that is needed. The Argos are not a big draw for any team other than the Ticats I suppose but other than that, who cares about them. Just have a team there so the advertisers like it. If I owned the Argos, I'd be doing the Braley thing as well, you only have so much energy so why put it in Toronto when it doesn't even matter all that much. Smart guy David is. :thup:

But then, is that any different than the Leafs? Who cares if they win, it's about the advertisers, a team, nothing more and nothing less. Toronto is simply a deadbeat city in terms of sports but agree, it's best for most leagues with a "Canuck flavour" like the CFL and NHL to simply have a team there regardless of how well they do on the field or ice, just to appease the advertisers.

The Argos can "flounder" all they want, or be the best team in the CFL, either way it doesn't matter much I think. The CFL left Toronto a long time ago as it's flagship franchise, that tag is to the Riders all the way as we all know, unfortunately or fortunately however way you want to look at it.

The Cox article is just saying it like it is, for the CFL as we all have known for a long time the CFL no longer revolves around Toronto, and doesn't need to. And that actually is good news I say. Thanks Damien for re-inforcing this message publicly even more in the media. No new news, just something we all know. :wink: :thup: And of course it must hurt some people knowing that Toronto really doesn't matter that much besides some advertising, even for a 100 percent franchised Canadian pro sports league. Ouch. :o

And the Leafs are no different. The Blue Jays and Raptors, of course, are a joke for putting people in buildings in the US. Again, people know that.

The game day experience was much better with C&S.
They put up nice banners over the endzone seats ( the ones under the jumbotron ) featuring all the past argos logos. Really made the place feel like the argos home and not the bluejays home.
They used to allow fans on the field after games to meet players, which was always cool.
They had banners of legenday argo players in the 500 level endzones.
C&S were also seen at all the games and very approachable.
They won a Grey cup and won the east a couple times under their regime.
Attendance was also much higher.

I'll trust what you are saying dg but what you are saying illustrates what so many believe and that is the Argos are so vulnerable that they aren't worth caring about much. I mean it's not as if Braley is like a Lonnie Glieberman and yet, as you say, maybe even a slight drop in the perception of a "friendly" owner affects the team in terms of attendance.

All this is is more Toronto media cowardess. Care to explain Montreal ? Our owner is not even Canadian. Toronto team structure and coaching staff is hugely improved. Team is looking at hosting a playoff game instead of missing the post season. Its hard to bring a business back from the brink and it takes time. Its only been two years. Give them another 3 years of stability and the Argos will be relevent again. 23 000 attendance with a home playoff game, hosting the Grey Cup and free or next to free rent isn't a problem.

The Argos are not in great shape and the fact nobody wants to own them and they can't draw flies should concern It seems who ever writes a article on the CFL that doesn't say great things about the league,is obviously a moron and has no credibility :roll: The Als play in a university stadium that they can't sell out in the last two years. If the Als go bad, the fans will run away in Montreal. Montreal has has done some good things but a big city like Montreal shouldn't play in a smaller stadium than Winnipeg and Regina.

I think you need to examine or reexamine the history of what happened in Montreal. I will say as the new stadiums come on board in the CFL and with what we've see happen at BC Place, Montreal will be looking to the future to build an excellent stadium. Not right away of course with the renos that have occurred at Molson Stadium but look for maybe something along the lines of what's going to happen in Hamilton, a brand new stadium right on the current site of Molson Stadium which is an awesome location there in Montreal.

And I also think something like this might happen in Toronto and while I say we don't need to really care about the Argos as long as they have a team (still the no. 1 team I actually have care for in Toronto), it would be nice to see them get their own digs at some point. Again, once you see the new stadiums going up in the CFL and what happened with BC Place as I already mentioned, expect to see something happen in Toronto especially if there will not be any NFL team there which is most likely going to be the situation.

Article is too negative. An absent owner is better than one that constantly interferes with coaches and managers in doing their jobs. Still, Braley has sacrificed alot for Toronto. Without him, there might be no Toronto team. Unrealistic to expect attendance to exceed 30,000 in the long term. The market is just not there.

Damien Cox is not even a CFL writer, he covers hockey and the leafs. He has the nerve to write a negative story about the Argos and the CFL.

I emailed him and true to form he shot back with negativity about the Argos and the CFL and even started name calling :thdn:

sounds like a classy fellow.
What did he say precisely tc?